Saturday, May 19, 2012
How a leader can avoid failing miserably AND avoid succeeding even more miserably
“Anything done in our own strength will either fail miserably or succeed even more miserably.” G.K. Chesterton
Guy Stevens, the Director of NEO360, a church planting network here in NE Ohio, once shared this quote with me. I have passed it along in messages at CVC over the years. It reminds me how necessary if is for leaders to abide in Christ. Jesus said:
4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5, ESV).
Getting things done while not abiding in Christ equals doing good things through self-effort (in our own strength). That's a sure-fire way of doing nothing of eternal value. Getting things done through self-effort is fruitless. Ecclesiastes calls it “chasing after the wind.” I Corinthians calls it “wood, hay, and stubble” that burn up on the day of judgment. Galatians calls it “running in vain.” Philippians calls it “laboring in vain.” Hebrews calls it “dead works.”
When I share the quote, "Anything done in our own strength will either fail miserably or succeed even more miserably, " I sometimes see light bulbs go on in some leader’s eyes. Our deeds done when we’re not abiding in Christ may be successful in men’s eyes, but they are not successful in God’s eyes. And, in that sense, they fail. And to make matters worse, the “success” can reinforce even more self-effort on our part.
That's why I sometimes pray, "O God, save me from 'successful' self-effort."
Below is a prayer that I put together relating to a leader’s need to abide in Christ to bear much fruit that remains.
Read it. Then, think. What might happen if you and I used it as a guide for praying this every day for the next month or so?
Jesus, I praise You as the living Vine in heaven. And I thank You that You have made me a living branch on earth.
I confess how little I have understood how great my need is for You. And I confess how little I have understood that You desire to bear fruit through me to bless the world with Your love.
So, now, I offer myself as an empty branch to You. Apart from You, I am lifeless, hopeless, helpless. I ask that You fill me with Your fullness, Your life, Your love. I desire a complete and close connection to You. I know that You want me to be a fruitful branch.
Let me more and more clearly see this wondrous union between You and me. Guide me into an ever-increasing communion with You. Let my whole being cry out, “Jesus is indeed to me the True Vine, bearing me, nourishing me, supplying me, using me, and filling me to the full to make me bring forth fruit abundantly. And I am indeed a branch to Jesus, abiding in Him, resting on Him, waiting for Him, and living in Him that through me He is giving His fruit to a perishing world.”
By faith, Lord Jesus, I claim Your strength for my weakness; Your riches for my poverty; Your supply for My need. I yield myself wholly to You. I am nothing without You. I can do nothing without You. But through Your life in me, I can accomplish all Your holy will and bear much fruit for the Father’s glory.
May it be my aim for the rest of my life to discover more deeply what it means to abide in You, Jesus. Right now, by faith, I connect to You, Christ. Bear Your eternal fruit through me. Bless the world through me today.