“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” – Galatians 6:3
So many in this world really think they are something. There seems to be no limit to how far one can promote their self. Blatant self-aggrandizement is neither frowned upon nor thought to be the slightest bit unhealthy. The inundation of selfies has moved from a cultural phenomenon to an everyday norm. Whether on mainstream media or on the general public’s social media, so many present “who” they are to the world…who they have “become.” As “normal” as this is, the truth remains, that all the self-actualization and pursuit of personal success means absolutely nothing if God is not in it.
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” – Jesus Christ
Only by receiving Jesus’ words, and allowing his life to envelope and define our life, can we begin to experience eternal life. We become what God intends when we receive what God speaks, and believe it so much we obey it and “enter in” to it. It begins with knowledge of what we are and what we ought to be. God intervenes and shows us our true self, broken, fragmented, not mirroring the image of His perfection. We are then presented with a challenge to leave who we have been, who we are, and become what God desires. What will we do with it? What we do, that is, how we respond, determines what we become.
The Challenge To Become
The challenge to “become” is located in the realization that we can and must join essential self with existential self. We accept God’s perfect plan for our life, then begin to actualize it in our actual circumstances, both now and for eternity—hence the term eternal life. The Word of God must be heard and believed and acted upon in order to join the eternal (perfection, beauty, wonder) with the finite (corruption, brokenness, disappointment). Outside of this kind of being, we have to create our own “being”, our own “livelihood” outside of God, which is not eternal nor fulfilling.
First, we visualize (i.e. we catch a vision, we begin to see, to truly understand, and believe) that there is in fact a perfect pattern which exists for us all.
Secondly, we agree and believe wholeheartedly that this perfect, essential pattern must be joined to our existential being (i.e. it must become our actual circumstance, our reality!).
The essence of what things ought to be will have to “become” the very thing that actually exists. They have to “become” because they do not presently exist—but God is taking us there. It is already available, but requires our will and volition to pull it down from the invisible, making it visible (Faith!). Herein lies the challenge, because, like all people, we are born into and raised with pre-conditioned ideas, certain parameters, frames of being—and to move beyond these into higher dimensions of living is a daunting task. To do it by faith is indeed a challenge, but a challenge with marvelous rewards (cf. Hebrews 11).
It involves facing down fears, taking risks, breaking away from norms, resisting criticism, and using “muscles” we never used before—because in the faith realm we will do things we’ve never done before. We cannot soar with Him until we can run with Him; we cannot run with Him until we learn to walk with Him; we cannot walk with Him unless we get ourselves up and with purpose and intent begin to believe. I’m talking about knowing and doing the impossible. I’m talking about learning to fly with skill and precision.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31
Becoming That Which You Are Meant To Become
With all its challenges, I think the process of “becoming” should be a harmonious transformation, much like the course of nature from inception to full actualization—like an acorn seed to an oak tree, or a creepy, crawly caterpillar to a flying butterfly. Humans, however, because of our sinful nature, resist the process. We curiously gravitate to the lower, base elements of life: appetites, basic needs and physical desires, food, sex, and sleep.
To elevate to that which is not only possible, but also most ideal, is the path less taken. For this reason, we need more than inner desire—we need a mentor! We need someone to go before, to lead and show us the way. Jesus did just that in the lives of his disciples. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” he said. “Follow me, and I will make you,” he said. Spiritual leaders should look to Jesus’ model for mentorship. He did not just tell his followers to follow his instructions, but to follow him! He embodied the leadership qualities he was teaching. Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” He too realized once we believe on Jesus and follow him, we also need earthly leaders to follow. We need godly mentors.
In the Garden of Eden, man was not left alone to try and “figure it all out.” God visited man in the cool of the day. There was a time of visitation and impartation. God talked with him. God was leading him. I’m convinced that man in the Garden was not man in his end state, but rather perfection in motion. Mankind was created by God and in continual relationship with God, in a perpetual state of becoming, until sin entered in. A limitless, infinite interaction with the Divine would have continued uninterrupted were it not for sin. God met with Adam for a purpose. God’s purposes always carry us to what is next. He never leaves us in our present conditions, but by His very nature, “brings us along” to a more desired haven. This is what leaders do in the lives of others.
Jesus modeled leadership for us long before the arrival of leadership seminars, workshops, or the countless books on the subject.
Spiritual leadership is the dynamic out-working of the “go before”, “lead from the front” mentality of our Savior. If it does not originate and flow from the indwelling Spirit of Christ, it is not spiritual leadership. It may be “similar” in principle, but authentic spiritual leaders mirror the Lord. Leadership goes forth, ahead of others, with the intent of bringing followers along. It is not for the leader’s sake or glory, but for the follower’s fulfillment, that they might “become” something rather than nothing. God, not the leader, receives the glory for this, for the leader is only so because of God. Jesus did not leave his followers to “find their own path,” follow do-it-yourself programs, or encourage them to become self-made men and women. No! Jesus led by example. He called them, chose them, and mentored them! We must follow Jesus’ example and recognize those answering a call on their life—and mentor them!
What we are and what we become has everything to do with the leadership we have in our life (or the lack thereof).
I don’t think anyone is simply born a leader. Leaders do not spring forth out of a vacuum, but rather they are birthed by that which they become: like produces like. There is a process of becoming. No man is above his Master (i.e. Teacher). Even Jesus Christ, although born with destiny and purpose, grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52). A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Heaven (i.e. God) gives gifts and raises up leaders through life’s processes and by placing teachers in our life. Much of what we can become will never come to fruition until someone else recognizes our inner desire, and then adds an outside agent of faith to germinate the underlying potential. Every person has potential!
The challenge to become is real. The benefits and rewards and change that take place in us are also real—worth every effort, every risk, every sacrifice.