This is the fifth post of a seven part series on manhood. The series is called Manspirations and the intent is to aim the spotlight of Scripture on the life of a man to determine how a man should live once redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. (2 Cor. 5:20)
When I see you, I see the face of God. Regardless of our spiritual walk, we bear the imago dei – the image of God – each in his own unique way. God reveals Himself in many ways, and I am convinced one of His most effective tools are humans like us. If we are in Christ, the Spirit lights up our bones with the presence of God. And though Lord knows we ain’t perfect, God is making His appeal through us by way of our words, our actions, and by the story He paints with our lives.
And thus, we are leaders. Men and women are both called to lead in their distinctive roles, but we will focus on men here. A mark of man of God is that he leads. He steps up and owns his call to lead.
Leadership has become distorted by sin. And we shouldn’t just consider extreme examples like Hitler. Those guys are easy to spot. The real danger lies in the millions of bad leaders who, misguided and sinful, quietly build their own kingdoms. Satan loves that kind of leader. To consider proper godly leadership, we must redefine what it means to lead. We must allow Jesus to speak into this topic as our God and perfect example. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), so His leadership is what we ought to hold up and strive towards. In Him we find our true north.
Jesus is the consummate servant leader. He washed the filth off the feet of His disciples. He used his position of leadership to serve and he used service to lead. In this respect He was meek and gentle. But when the money changers made a mockery of His Father’s house, He burned hot with righteous anger. He drove them out physically. He didn’t ask, “Um hey guys – well, I don’t think you’re supposed to do that in here.” He flipped tables and kicked every last one of the scoundrels out of the temple. He used his masculine strength and power to push them out. Part of leadership is fierce protection. And this is all borne out of love. To remain holy, it must be.
Men are called to lead under the leadership of God Himself. Our authority is delegated to us by God and we operate under His leadership. We report to Him. And we will give an account to Him.
An ambassador is a representation of a people in a foreign land. He is away from home. He is there to show the foreign land what his people are like and also to build a relationship with the host country. And this can be deadly. For example, Chris Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, was killed by an angry mob. Ambassadors aren’t always welcome aliens. So when you feel lost, hated, or misunderstood, this is the norm. A man who is winsome, respectful, and loving will do best to walk well among outsiders (Colossians 4:5-6) and this will build bridges of peace, but sometimes the outsiders will burn down the bridge after hanging him from it.
Men, remember that if you are in Christ you show the world what He is like. Gandhi once said that he likes Christ but not Christians and I see what he was getting at. We have a high calling to show the image of God to other people. But this isn’t performance. We aren’t on stage. The call here is be authentically you in complete dependence upon the Spirit to move and direct you. Ask for help in your ambassadorship. Beg for guidance and listen for the voice of God. We may lead out front, but we don’t do so alone. He is always with us.
Speaking Into Nothing
When God made the world, He spoke into nothing. He used cosmic words of power to shape the cosmos. Yes, words. His truth is so powerful, so potent, that when spoken it changes the universe. God’s Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11) and we must open our mouths to proclaim it. We must stand upon the truth and deliver it as the Spirit leads.
But sometimes it feels like speaking into nothing.
If we embrace our role as ambassadors, we will speak the truth of the Gospel to those around us. At least if we love them, we will. And sometimes the eternal magnificence of what Jesus has done will crash against a bulkhead of nonresponse. Your friends may not change. Your business may not change. Your wife may not respond. At least that you can see.
The promise of the potency of the Gospel is that when we share the love of Christ with someone through word and deed (both are crucial), something happens. The universe is affected, eternities are affected. We sow seeds and often we aren’t around for their growth. But we continue to speak into nothing and trust God to do His will.
Leading Can be Lonely
Leadership can be vague. Let’s drill down to clarify. You, man, have spheres of influence. In his book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men, Stephen Mansfield calls this your field. That would be your family, your coworkers, your church, and your friends. And remember, you may get lonely tending your field. Mansfield explains:
“…a man cannot fulfill his purpose if he is living for applause, approval, and affirmation in this world. It simply will not come—not enough, certainly, to answer the needs of his soul.”
The needs of your soul are fulfilled in Christ. So when it gets lonely, hard, and painful, don’t tend your field looking eagerly to others for recognition.
I love to hunt with bird dogs. When the dog handler has established a deep relationship with his dog, a bird dog will not only do everything he says, it will do so with exuberant joy. When he brings a bird back to his master, he shakes with delight. He cannot contain his joy of working for his master. We should remember our master is God. We work for Him alone. If we bring our work to the wrong master (read: anyone but God) we will be sorely disappointed.
Look around you. Who has God placed in your life? They need you. They need you to love them enough to speak the truth. They need you to be the man God made you to be. They need you to stand next to them in the battle of life and remind them of their hope. They need you to stand in the sun so they can rest in the shade.
They need you to lead.
Photo credit: DVIDSHUB via Flickr