The leader whose commander is the Lord knows who controls his destiny
Today’s Scripture reading comes from Matthew 16:24, quoting from the New King James Version:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’”
Who wants to “deny” himself? What does it mean exactly, and how is it done? Look around you and observe. Ours is not a society that particularly thrives on self-denial.
I will be the first to say, there is nothing wrong with having. The problem comes when possessions have us and when our minds are not on God’s interests but on man’s. It is not natural to give up our self-interest or to sacrifice for others. The thought of doing without is not an ingredient the typical leader prefers. We do not like having fewer resources than the mission requires.
However, we must ask ourselves what might be facilitated through self-denial and in making Christ our all. Denial of self might translate to, “But whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Joy in service then becomes the byproduct of giving oneself unreservedly to God’s interests.
Self-denial leads to the possibility of flourishing, both professionally and spiritually. It might lead one to integrate faith with one’s profession. Where do the two intersect? One might ask if there is anything “actionable” that shows one how to take up his cross or that projects spiritual integrity into the workplace.
Some professions require an oath to demonstrate commitment to the profession. The Christian and Christian leader must also determine the extent of his or her faith commitment in service.
One might think that through self-denial one forfeits what is due him. The opposite is true. Through such renunciation, we gain and what is given up is repaid. God knows what we give up in service to Him. The fact that He will “repay” represents His recognition and appreciation.
While our flesh does not like the idea of giving up or accepting less, it benefits us to do so. In the words of Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
The leader whose commander is the Lord knows who controls his destiny. The tug of fleshly desires is weakened when I take my mind off my own interests and focus on God’s interests. When I do that, I am, in effect, denying myself.
Points to Ponder
Over the next week, here are 3 points to ponder during your personal time of reflection or with a small group or mentor.
- First, Are justice, kindness, and humble service the tenor of your leadership?
- Second, Are you genuinely concerned for the welfare of others?
- Third, As you consider workplace or home productivity, are you willing to be ruled by godly wisdom even if it runs counter to your “get-it-done-now” approach?
It’s time for a quick monthly evaluation. Click here to download the monthly reflection sheet. Use the reflection sheet to help gauge your habit of integrating faith and profession, and to help get you into the habit of keeping a written record of those times when the Holy Spirit speaks to you.