Of the 125 imperatives Jesus spoke in the Gospels, the second most frequently mentioned revolves around loving God and loving our neighbor. It appears eight times. The command spoken most often refers to the need to muster courage in the face of uncertainty. Christ urges us 21 times to not be afraid, to have courage, or to take heart.
During Foursquare Connection 2010 in Atlanta this year, Francis Chan reminded us of our need to be encouraged by the words of Jesus. Francis observed that if we didn’t need comforting from time to time, the Holy Spirit would not have been called “Comforter.” It makes perfect sense when you realize how much of the enemies’ effort is focused at undermining our confidence. Decisions prompted by fear are very different than those motivated by courage.
I came across some “lessons learned” from John Maxwell this week, lessons he learned after an intense and lengthy season of challenges in his life. They are simple, straightforward and to the point. Each one of them is a powerful statement and I thought you would appreciate them. Read them slowly, deliberately, and allow them to settle in your soul. Remember, they are “lessons learned” from a difficult season. In them, John describes what he needs to be able to exercise courageous leadership in the face of potentially overwhelming circumstances:
- Convictions that are stronger than my fears
- Vision that is clearer than my doubts
- Spiritual sensitivity that is louder than popular opinion
- Self-esteem that is deeper than self-protection
- Appreciation for discipline that is greater than my desire for leisure
- Dissatisfaction that is more forceful than the status quo
- Poise that is more unshakeable than panic
- Risk-taking that is stronger than safety-seeking
- Right actions that are more robust than rationalization
- A desire to see potential reached more than to see people appeased
As I read through John’s list, I felt instructed, corrected and rebuked. It was an important exercise for me to ask the Lord to deal with specific areas of my life where I have left myself vulnerable to the schemes of the evil one. Your life and mine carries significant influence wherever we have responsibility. Let’s “man-up” or “woman-up,” whichever the case may be, to the task before us.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”
Glenn Burris Jr. is president-elect of The Foursquare Church