I have been blessed to have many strong mentors. I have been touched and trained by Jack Stanton, Elmer Towns, Luther Williams, B. Gray Allison, E. J. Daniels, Norman Noble, and Ken Bradley just to name a few. These men radiated strong leadership qualities. And then there are the writers that have instilled little nuggets of gold into my leadership vault – Ron Edmonson, Tim Elmore, Rick Curtis and classics like Vance Havner, Andrew Murray, Paul Billheimer and Leonard Ravenhill.
With these in mind and heart, and countless hours of my own study in revitalization, I offer my own rendition of Jesus’ 10 Competencies which every revitalizer ought to strive for to be effective.
First, and these are not in any order of rank, is this: Jesus knew when, where and how to ask the hard questions. His discernment and boldness is crystal clear. When speaking to religious leaders, He knew the correct words to dig into their heart and mind, unearthing the root issues. Jesus did not offer roses and teddy bears to the deception and dishonesty of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He called a lie by its originator – the devil, and He paralleled satan’s schemes with the false religiosity of His day. The religious charlatans were of their father, the devil, and Jesus exposed them. It is imperative for the revitalizer to discern truth from sham, and call leaders and congregations to follow what is true. Sugar-coating the truth will never help fix a church that is declining or dying. Remember, speak the truth in love, but speak the truth!
Second, Jesus was priority-driven. He dealt with what was urgent. In John 17:4, He said He had “accomplished the work which You (the Father) have given Me to do.” He was laser-focused; never distracted from what HAD to be done, but always willing to divert his attention to what needed to be handled immediately. He never failed to stop for those who were sick or grieving before going further. He handled distractions as though they were a part of the plan of the Father (and they are). He never got anxious, never showed disdain for the distraction or the detractor and never shrugged away anyone’s crisis.
Third, Jesus lived what He taught. As my parents used to chide, “Practice what you preach!” And Jesus did. Be genuine when you ask churches to do what you are, and have been, doing. In Luke 7:22, “He (Jesus) answered and said to them (John the Baptist’s followers), “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.” Jesus’ ministry was proof of His message and His authority. He had no problem humbling Himself by washing His pupil’s feet and encouraging them to continue His example. Revitalizers should be known as servant-leaders, not experts. The strategies, processes and plans we present to blemished brides originated from the eternal Bridegroom. Give Him the glory!
Fourth, Jesus took time to refresh Himself. Mark 6:31-32, “And He (Jesus) said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.” Luke 6:12, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” Jesus was into self-development. He took time to recharge His physical and spiritual batteries. So must we!
Fifth, relationships must always trump roles. Jesus cared more about people than religious rules, rituals and regulations. John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Who we are is more important than what we can do. Jesus had no problem breaking the “rules” to care for those who were in need.
Sixth, Jesus replicated Himself in others. Matthew 10:1, Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Mark 3:14-15, And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons. He did not micromanage them, but He did oversee them.
He prepared and trained the apostles to assume His responsibilities. They may have been uneducated and uncouth, but He pushed them to accomplish more than they could have ever imagined. He trained them so well they gladly followed Him to the point of martyrdom. Here is His three-step strategy. 1) He did the ministry and they watched. 2) They did the ministry and reported back to Him for evaluation and advice. 3) He departed, and they took over the ministry and trained others. And it is continuing today through every believer! When the church adheres to this discipleship process, they can’t help but be productive.
Seventh, Jesus expected His followers to be sold-out to His cause. We must gain buy-in to lead in revitalization. Mark 8:34-35, And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” He was asking them to relinquish their plans, goals and future for His agenda. We must be willing to lose everything, so He can do the miraculous.
Eighth, Jesus led His followers with an authority beyond Himself. John 12:49, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.” We would do well to:
a) Seek the Lord at the start of every day.
b) Be calm and trust Him when things look bleak.
c) Stand firm in the Word when the enemy attacks.
d) Admit error/sin and seek forgiveness.
Ninth, Jesus perpetuated His ministry in us by leaving us a strengthener and counselor. John 14:12-16, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever…” Always seek the unction of the Holy Spirit and empower others with the very same Spirit.
Tenth, FINISH WELL! Revitalization is not about us; it is about Him and His Bride being joined in perfect harmony! (All scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible)