Denying Ourselves

Denying Ourselves Is a Distinct Sign Of Faith Leadership 

Luke 9,23: "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

What's essential acording to Jesus about faith leadership?

Jesus told each of his twelve sent ones, after the multitude had their fill of bread and left, that his leaders will follow him, and deny themselves, and accept the suffering that comes along the way.

Notice Jesus studiously avoids all the guilt-trip, will worship, relgiosity words like "must" and "should" and "ought" and "try." 

Thank you Jesus you were not having any of that bunk!

Isn't it about time we church types stop with the "must" and the "should" and  the "ought" and the "try try try."

And instead- try (like act in) faith (simply acting on the promises of God).

It is faith that brings the power of God's grace to live what we profess.

Denying our very selves is a personal faith decision.  

We all are aware of this scripture decision, but perhaps we put it off until after we have the church office and the income "we deserve", and after we settle down, and after everyone around us starts acting like we think they should, and after all our personal needs are met, and after we get the education we need, and after having the living arrangement and car we covet, and after all our insurances are paid.

But hey wait- Jesus is talking about right now: "Don't waste another minute thinking my faith deal is just about bread miracles, and excludes suffering, because the sooner you get over that, the sooner you'll be working for me."

Our faith and church lives are lived out in a culture that thrives on self interest, and looking out for number one, and "personal success", regardless to any cost to ourselves and our neighbor.

And I wish I could say with a straight face that these realities hadn't entered the sanctuary, but sometimes there's that atonal sound of flesh applauding flesh coming from it and my spirit winces.

But then I take heart in the sanctuary leaders who have helped me admire the human Jesus all the more, guys and gals who at some point definitely decided to pick up their particular crosses and follow. They had made the decision firstly for Jesus, and only secondly for themselves.

I think of the mega-pastor who personally answers correspondence and takes the time to meet anyone after services. I think of that pastor's mother still doing mid week evening healing service in her son's church, and pouring herself out yet again as she has been doing for at least forty years already.

I think of pastors who were never "successful" themselves but whose example of devotion and loving Jesus will always be a picture in my mind's eye. 

But let me be clear. Jesus is not looking for doormat leaders or followers who allow folks in the street or church to wipe their feet on them.

We're salt of the earth and light of the world and we season our speech and witness with just the right amount of all that humanity within us that resists decay.

I'm thinking we are going to need a lot of faith (confidently acting on the promises that brings down the Holy Ghost) to lead others in his NAME. 

And a good dose of seasoning too. 

But before any leading, Luke 9,23 says we first deny ourselves and follow Jesus, NAME above all names, leader above all leaders.   




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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.