Vyacheslav Goncharenko. Leadership vision
It’s highly important for a church to have a vision. Where there is no vision, the people perish (KJV Proverbs 29:18). A person who has no purpose is going to live his life running in circles, achieving nothing. Surely, many people have personal goals and visions. But it’s better to have a goal and a vision from God. In church you can hear about God’s vision, that is what God thinks. Today I would like to speak on this topic.
Let’s start with the story from the book of Isaiah. I would like you to open your heart, receive this message and put your faith in it.
For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counseller, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
It speaks of the punishment God’s people suffered: removal of the leaders of society. We see a wide range of leaders mentioned: prophets, judges, mighty men, and men of war, honorable men and even eloquent orators. Each sphere calls leaders differently. For instance, a religious leader is called pastor or priest, prophet, apostle; a military leader – general, marshal, even a sergeant is a leader for a certain group of people. Our political leader is a president. In some Asian countries he’s called Shah. A leader could be called chief, head, boss, supervisor, manager. A leader on a ship is called captain.
A leader is responsible for many things, isn’t he? We may not feel like it, may not think it’s a big deal because leaders have been always around: they are always involved in doing, managing, controlling something, giving orders; they have some kind of a vision. In fact, being a leader is a great responsibility and very hard work.
I have heard that 95% of leadership decisions could be made by a competent teenager. Then someone may ask, if that is considered to be true, then why do they get paid? They get their money for that 5% of decisions that no one else can make but them. These decisions are so complicated and demanding that they require enormous effort .
Recall the way Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. Just imagine that on the decision He was about to make hung the life or death of all humanity, past, present and future generations. He felt huge pressure when He thought of the sufferings He, as He knew, had to go through. He even turned to His disciples, “Why aren’t you with Me?” Jesus expected His friends to stand by. “Peter, couldn’t you pray with me for an hour? Why couldn’t you stand with Me just one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). He was going through terrible agony. It is written that His sweat fell down the ground as drops of blood. History keeps record of people who experienced the same. I have heard of a general who lost a battle and sweat mixed with blood appeared on his face.
There are hard times in history when leaders have to make serious decisions in the face of different choices. Then we begin to see that leader’s task, for instance pastor’s, is not only to come before the audience and preach. A leader is responsible for many things. We have to learn to understand and appreciate leadership because since the collapse of the Soviet Union in our country leaders are not highly regarded. Quite many confusing things are happening in this sphere. When a leader disappears people begin to realize how truly important that person was and how crucial leadership is in itself.
Let’s imagine a situation. You are on the plane with many other passengers. The leader of the aircraft, the pilot, is the person in charge of your life on board. But unexpectedly he, a free thinker, comes in and announces, “Hello, dear friends! I have turned on the autopilot system and am going to parachute because I like this idea better.” How would you feel about it? You would be surprised as a minimum or even shocked. All passengers will definitely approach the pilot, “Hey, and what about us?” “You can fend for yourselves somehow.” Or imagine a driver of a bus you are on says, “For some reason I feel hungry. I will stop by this restaurant and have something to eat.” You will ask, “What about us?” The driver replies, “I have no idea.” Surely, it’s hard to imagine these to happen in real life but it’s crystal clear that as soon as a leader disappears or a general leaves a battle field, it signals the beginning of chaos, “Whom to listen to? Where to go?” Even retreat could be a problem because to do it there should be a proper order given. Who is there to give orders for everybody to listen and obey if he or she is not a leader? When a shepherd abandons his sheep, they disperse and become easy targets for wolves.
And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
There people are likened to sheep. A sheep can never find a way home without a shepherd. Similarly, if a leader is taken away a people has no defense against an enemy.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Apostle Paul says, “While I am here everything is going to be all right. But as soon as I depart wolves are going to enter in. They won’t spare the flock. It’s going to be the beginning of chaos.” I have heard of instances when a church didn’t listen to its pastor whom God appointed as its leader or when a church was left without a pastor. I recall when I visited one country a person who had invited me shared, “For ten years our church anticipated a pastor to be assigned. The former pastor abandoned the flock as a result of his personal difficulties. And our big church was left without “shepherd”. We had no pastor for ten years and we began to see the significance of having a pastor. We went through a lot of stuff. In fact we suffered one defeat after another having no sensible leadership.”
The 11th chapter of the book of Judges tells an interesting story of Jephthah, a judge of Israel. He was a true leader but the community expelled him for being a son of a prostitute. So the Jews rejected him because he was born in a dysfunctional family. But some time later Ammonites began to attack God’s people’s lands. So Israel found no one who could defend them and then they remembered of Jephthah. Jewish elders came to him and said, “Jephthah, help us! You are a great leader, you are a brave man, you have knowledge and faith! Could you help us?” Jephthah consented. And through this man, God gave great victory to His people. This is an example of how important a leader is. What if Jephthah had said, “You kicked me out so now take care yourselves?” God’s people would have been left without a leader like sheep without a shepherd before a wolf.
And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
This is how God sees people: they are like sheep without a shepherd in His sight. They are scattered, each one strayed off on his own way. Their lives will never make sense or have purpose. Every person needs a leader, each one needs a pastor who will direct him and help along the way. If a leader is taken away society suffers all kinds of violence.
And the people shall be oppressed, everyone by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.
This describes the situation with no proper order. Chaos and uncertainty rule in countries where there is no good leader. Churches without good leaders suffer chaos and uncertainty. In families with no good leader (for instance, a family left without a father) children may feel unrestrained; they may run over their mother, misbehave. In fact, such a family is dying. When a leader is taken away everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
That was the story of stealing, rape, murders of tens of thousands of Jews, when almost the whole tribe of Israel was lost. It’s an example of how the stories of no leadership end. My purpose today is for us to realize the importance of leadership. So when a leader is removed babies and children are going to rule.
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
The situation when children are in charge over adults is a topic for a separate discussion. Some day, I will share with you of how harmful it is for people. Removal of leaders led to destruction in Israel until people came to senses and began looking for a leader.
When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand: … For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen…
Sometimes we may wonder: where does destruction come from? That punishment came over as people dishonored their leaders. Do you remember what Jesus said concerning them, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee!” (Matthew 23:37). They were disobedient and cruel, they chose to follow their own ways and rejected God’s ways, which He showed them through His leaders.
Dear friends, today I am throwing down a challenge. I would like the Holy Spirit to touch so that you can change the way you think. Here is what I have discovered is going on in the world. Today there is no educational institution for spiritual leaders. If you visit any university, college or school and ask: “What kind of education do you offer your students? Where they are going to work in the future?” you will find a wide choice of professions. You can become whatever you like, work and meet your own needs, earn money and be happy with your life. But in no secular educational institution will you hear that they prepare spiritual leaders – pastors, teachers of the Word of God, apostles, prophets, evangelists, God’s managers. Nowhere! While the majority is hurrying up to occupy top positions in different spheres believers should keep in mind that Jesus Christ is building His Kingdom and He is looking for doers! Do you have faith in Jesus Christ? Do you believe that He is building His Kingdom?
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
I don’t object you having a secular profession. Jesus Christ also had a job, He was a carpenter. But there is a higher calling. You can have both and keep in mind that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is eternal. For this reason I encourage you to be a part of something greater than this world and will last forever. You can be anything in this world: you can earn a diploma, win a prize, make a fortune. But bear in mind that in a hundred years from now all of these will end up in a trash dump. One great athlete, a world champion, discovered at the dump the cup for which he had fought with sweat and blood. Here is my question: is something which sooner or later is going to be thrown in a waste pile worth laying down one’s life for? Why am I making this comparison? To draw your attention and show you the reality of the Kingdom which is going to last for eternity and live through all kingdoms of this age. Don’t you want to be a part of this Kingdom? Don’t you want to hear God’s calling and lay down your life for His Kingdom which has no end?
You have got to see that Jesus Christ also runs His business and it’s the most honorable of all on the earth. Jesus called Peter and his brother, fishermen, saying “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’s souls.” Who of you could see and hear the emphasis which Jesus laid and make it a priority over all the words of other people saying, “Do this! Do that!” And here’s the crazy thing: when a person who doesn’t know the future offers you something, “Come here! Go with me!” you follow him but when God’s Son Jesus Christ calls you, you hesitate. Do you think His plan for you is worse? Quite often we are tricked by the lust of this world and ready to exchange eternal things for temporal.
Long ago, the Lord showed me the meaning of leadership. There are many leaders, ministers and regional pastors in our church. We also have branches in different cities around Belarus. As any other pastor the quality of my work increases when I have a team of several people working by my side. Jesus had 12 disciples, and later He formed a group of 70 people whom He had chosen. 120 people were in the room when Jesus ascended to Heaven. That was Jesus’ church. I think these numbers set limits for people with various leadership skills. When God adds more and more new people to the church, we have to develop a structure which can effectively spread the Kingdom and take care of all newcomers.
Once, the Lord showed me the so-called “principle of vessels”. A glass contains 200 grams of water. And you know there is no way for 300 grams to fit in. No way! God has made it clear that every person is a vessel. Each person as a vessel can hold a certain number of people. The Scripture says there are different kinds of vessels.
2 Timothy 2:20,21:
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
From God’s perspective, each person is a vessel which He would like to use. For instance, our church will grow proportionally to the number of leaders. This is a pure mathematics. Tell me how many people are in your church and I will tell you the number of leaders and ministers. And vice versa, tell me how many leaders and ministers you have and I will tell you the number of people in your church. The proportion is approximately 1 to 10. Our congregation makes up to 1500 including children and we have 90 leaders and about 50 ministers. If the number of leaders and ministers increases, the Kingdom will become bigger and the church will grow larger. Some of you might wonder, “What should we do to make our church grow?” The growth comes when new leaders step forward and take responsibility.
Leadership lifts a person to a new level, a new level in relations, a new level of influence. I can see this, my friends, so clearly. We will increase in number if you hear my message today and say, “I would like to give it a try and reach this new level.” We will see growth. We will witness new souls joining the Kingdom of God. Each new vessel holds a new number of people. I believe we should make efforts in this direction.
Here is my challenge to all of you: please listen to me and commit your life to the Lord. Turn your ship around and move it in the direction of the Kingdom of God and of the ministry. Serve the Lord and do His will at least for a time. Serve Him while your life is in its spring season. It won’t be spring all the time, you will experience summer, fall and winter when nothing can be done and the only option is to stay home. There will come a time for you to just sit down and relax. Your health condition might become poor and your strength might be gone. But don’t make hurry that along!) While you are full of energy, while it’s a spring season in your life, when everything is in bloom, when you feel strong physically as well as spiritually, use your strength to serve the Lord and do His will. And when fall or winter comes you will have good memories.
I can recall a young man, one of our ministers. Something bad happened in his life, which moved him to backslide. Once he sent me a letter where he wrote, “Pastor Vyacheslav, I want you to know that the time when I served Jesus Christ, when I worked for His Kingdom was the best time in my life. Everything else was just emptiness and darkness. I have nothing to remember except that several glorious years in your church when I was committed to Jesus Christ. That time even till this day is the only thing that keeps me moving. When I served the Lord I felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit, His hand upon my life and my oneness with Him. I knew who I am. When I did His will I realized my identity,” So turn your ship around and move it in the direction of the Kingdom! Hear God’s calling! Dedicate your life to Him. Dedicate your life to do God’s works! Don’t forget, God also has a business. Change the way you see leadership!
I think most of us should change how we view leadership. I would like you to give thanks to the leaders who have ministered and keep on ministering to you, who have helped you grow spiritually. If today you can feel solid ground under your feet and can stand firmly, I want you to know that it didn’t just happen. It happened because of the leaders you had. Spiritual leaders, spiritual fathers and mothers, who took care of you while you were weak. All truth is parallel. A baby who comes into this world requires help. He won’t survive without father and mother. Even if he does, his life would be ruined because if he doesn’t get enough love and proper upbringing in the beginning he would stumble around choosing to follow crooked paths. His life would be suffering, not happiness. The same applies in the spiritual world.
Think of what it is going to be look like if the Lord will bless our country. God’s grace will be multiplied over Belarus. God’s grace abounds in times of crisis and it will draw many to come to know Jesus Christ and serve Him wholeheartedly. Suppose that tomorrow a thousand people come to our church. Who of you is ready to say, “I will take care of them”? Of course, it comes at a price: we have to open our hearts and rid ourselves of selfishness. I have to ask you, my friends, how long are we going to live for our own satisfaction, pleasing only ourselves? It’s high time for us to realize that we should live for the One Who died for us and came back to life again! Don’t you agree with me?
Think over this vision. Turn your hearts and welcome this vision, never speak against it. Never say a word against leadership because you don’t know their level of responsibility and can’t judge them! In your homes never speak against spiritual leadership of the church, home groups’ leaders and the pastor. Why? Because you are sowing bad seeds into your children’s hearts and they may grow to become backsliders. Never stop to listen to someone who speaks against leadership and pastorate! Never be a part of such conversations! But on the contrary, endeavor to help your leaders, take the place of a leader’s assistant, become a leader yourself! It’s an exciting thing to learn the art of directing people. It’s something that will give you satisfaction and extend the sphere of your influence. I will see how God is working through you. You will be in demand.
You might think, “I doubt I will make a good leader.” Gideon might have had the same thoughts when he, afraid of Midianites, hid himself in a cave. An angel from the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” Gideon was amazed at hearing that, “What kind a mighty warrior am I? Just look at me: I am full of dread, I am trembling like an aspen leaf!” The angel said, “Go. Your strength is enough to deliver your nation!” Remember how Gideon called out an army of 32 thousand people. And the Lord said, “You have too many. Dismiss most of them.” And finally, there were 300 left who set out and defeated a powerful army and set their people free. You might sound like Gideon, “I won’t make it…” How do you know? What do you know about yourself? God knows you better. Often God chooses those whom no one else would choose. But history is filled with amazing accounts in both the Old and New Testaments, showing us that God chooses insignificant people. Elijah was a man like we are but he prayed and the sky opened up and the rain fell down. We read about those people who by faith conquered kingdoms, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, received back their dead by resurrection. We can see those people throughout the Scripture. What kind of people were they? You may say, “O, they were great chosen leaders!” You should keep in mind that they were humans who had their own weaknesses and infirmities. They had their struggles and some were even betrayers. Peter rejected Jesus three times, but Jesus forgave him and asked, “Do you love Me?” “I do,” Peter confirmed.
Don’t you love Jesus Who loved you up to the point of dying on the cross? If you love Him you must hear in your heart God’s calling, “Feed my sheep!” You are a mature person, you stand firmly on your feet. You have read the whole Bible from cover to cover; you have received answers to many questions. But thousands of people in this world are still searching to hear something. Here is our purpose – become their fathers and show them the way to the Kingdom of God. In fact, if you do so it will add to your personal growth, enlarge the area of your responsibility and bring you to a new spiritual position. It will indicate your transformation from being a spiritual baby into a spiritual father. Church as no other institution is responsible for growing spiritual leaders. You seldom hear a secular institution saying, “We would like to assist your endeavors!” They are doing their own business. Jesus expects us to produce spiritual leadership. He expects you to say in faith, “Yes, I will crucify my self-interests and my will for Jesus’ sake. I want to serve Him.” But you don’t know the end of this path. You may go further down this road or God may make you move in a different direction. But in any case I am convinced there should be continuity in the church: once you joined the church and somebody helped you grow. It’s like in a family when elder children have grown up they are entrusted with new responsibility to take care for younger ones to maintain continuity. That’s how it should be in the church of God. That’s the way the Kingdom of God becomes strong and mature.
Get involved in Sunday school! Don’t be afraid of taking a leadership position! See it as challenge. Your life will change. Your manner of praying, reading the Bible will change. You will see God and people He will give you in a different way. And when your life reaches its autumn, you will never be alone. You will have thousands of homes, thousands of brothers and sisters. You will be surrounded by so many grateful people! They will come and say, “Thank you that you were moved by love, not selfishness and your life was transformed into ministry and my life.” Maybe your ministry and example will touch people who later will become great ministers and preachers of the Gospel, who will bring salvation to cities and entire nations. And you will have a part in it! Isn’t it exciting for you?
I give thanks to God for all who are involved in a ministry today. But my heart is on fire and is dreaming of the times when we will multiply, move forward and see the Kingdom of Jesus Christ growing bigger on the earth. God’s purpose is for His Kingdom to take hold over the entire world. All kingdoms of this world will fall down but the only Kingdom to shine for eternity is the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!
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