“Not on your own, but with God’s help you can!”
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
If you asked anybody, “What amazes you most about what Jesus did while on this Earth?” You would get responses like, “He raised the dead,” or “He died for my sins” or “He healed the blind and the lame.” No doubt that each of these are amazing works of God, Calvary can never be denied as the greatest work that Jesus did. I would have responded the same way. Calvary aside, one of the most amazing things to me that Jesus did while on this Earth was transforming the twelve into disciples, and ultimately into the leaders of the first century church. That was an amazing accomplishment.
I know firsthand as a leader and a pastor how difficult it is to change people. I understand how much time it takes to cause habits and thinking to change. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the twelve disciples were total idiots, but let’s be honest, they didn’t have a whole lot going for them. They were definitely less than ordinary. They didn’t have a lot of natural talent. Their intellectual abilities were lacking. Each one of them was prone to failure, bad attitudes and mistakes, no one more than the leader of the group, Peter. Almost every one of them had issues with their faith. They all had bouts with doubt. On one occasion, Jesus said of them;
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Jesus called them fools, yet He also saw them for what they could be, instead of what they were. These twelve “fools,” or at least eleven of them, went on to turn their world upside down. They became the propagators of the Gospel after Jesus ascended. They built the church from the ground up. Their ministry continues to influence us to this day. So the answer is ‘yes’, a loser can be turned into a leader. A fool can become a person of wisdom. In fact, more often than not, God typically calls these kind of men and women to become the leaders in the church;
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
The twelve that Jesus called were Galileans. (they were from the area around the Sea of Galilee) They were not part of the religious elite. Not one of them was even religious. Galileans were considered low class, uneducated nobodies. They were unwise and ignorant men, less than ordinary. But Jesus began to shape them and mold them into leaders. They would be the ones to carry on the work of Christ after He ascended. It was a process that would take about three years, but would not be completed until Jesus ascended and then filled them with His Spirit.
For a period of three years, Jesus led, taught, mentored and rebuked these twelve men. They were firsthand witnesses of almost all of the miracles of Jesus. Their faith grew each time Jesus performed a healing. Slowly over this three year period you can see a gradual but definite change in their thinking. They were progressing but had not yet progressed enough to make it on their own, for when Jesus was crucified, they all scattered. Their faith dissipated overnight. Everything they had been taught by Jesus was forsaken and forgotten because of fear and doubt. Many of them went back to their old calling; fishing. They forsook everything they had learned in those three years and turned their back on Christ. It wasn’t until Jesus met them on the shores of Galilee that they were persuaded to follow Him again.
It needs to be pointed out that the disciples did not accomplish many great things for Christ until they became endued with the power of the Holy Ghost;
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
When the Holy Ghost came upon them in Acts, chapter two, they immediately began to preach the Gospel to the crowds of people in Jerusalem. This was the beginning of their great works.
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
The Holy Ghost transformed these men. The Holy Ghost Changed them. The Holy Ghost renewed their thinking. Jesus gave them the necessary hands on training that they needed. But His Spirit in them is what ultimately changed their thinking! This was the mystery that had been hid from the world for ages. This is what every man and woman needed and what Christ wanted to give. Paul said it this way, “It is Christ in you, the hope of Glory!” Jesus working inside of each of us. This was what was needed to change the twelve;
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
It is clear from these scriptures that it takes more than a good leader to change a person. It takes leading, teaching and mentoring, and it also takes the transforming power of the Holy Ghost. You must not underestimate the power of the Holy Ghost in this process. Jesus taught and mentored them for three years and they still turned their backs on Him. If Jesus had trouble turning them around, then surely you and I will. They need a mentor/leader and they need Jesus working inside of them!
Note: Be sure and read Part 2 of this article in our next PreachIt.org Newsletter coming on 7-31-10!
“Ultimate success comes from a series of small wins that lead people to victory. That is what momentum in ministry is–a bunch of small successes that are back-to-back-to- back. Every once in a while there may be a setback, but if the successes are greater than the setbacks, momentum still continues. It may be three steps forward and two steps back, but it is still forward momentum by one step.”
This excerpt is from the highly-sought-after book Momentum In Ministry. This book is recommended for every Pastor, Leader or Leadership team in the Church. Along with the book, which is available on paperback as well as ebook format, there are also resources such as PowerPoints, Teaching lessons, and Video sessions. These are must-haves to help the Pastor mentor his/her leadership team into the dynamic leadership team that God has intended for them to be. You can view the Momentum In Ministry book and teaching materials at http://www.pastoralhelps.com/momentum-in-ministry-exclusives-page/