03 Jan I’d Rather be a Father than a Leader
Ministers and politicians have a couple things in common. I know you probably just thought of a few examples of public scandals, but I wasn’t talking about the few that cheat people out of money and live hypocritical morality. I’m referring to the initial desire in one’s heart to be a leader of people. In order to pursue a calling like this you’ll generally find two traits at work in varying degrees. First, a person who wants to lead people has to have a great conviction that they are the solution to a particular problem. Instead of sitting back in hope that someone else will take action, a leader steps up to fill the need. Secondly, a leader has to have enough ego to think that others need to hear what they have to say. This second trait is what often hinders the would-be leader from true success. There are many biblical and historical examples of humble leaders who kept this trait in check. Moses protested when God called this 80 year old, stuttering shepherd to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Some historical accounts say that George Washington whispered in a humble, barely audible voice as he was sworn in as the first President of the United States of America.
Humility aside, no leader wants to be considered mediocre, or unsuccessful. Over the years that I’ve been in ministry I have struggled with an ego that wants to be heard by thousands. It probably spilled over from my childhood dream of being a rock star. I could imagine myself on a huge stage surrounded by a multitude in a football stadium. They would hang on my every word. Cameras would zoom in on my emotional plea for hearers to respond to the message, and the broadcast would go out all over the world. What would I say? Well, that’s a detail that I’d work out later. Seriously, when I felt God call me to ministry I imagined that he would make me bigger than Billy Graham. Then, I planted a new church and got a reality check. Actually, that’s a bit understated; I had my selfish dream obliterated, and my ego underwent a serious operation.
Recently I have been considering this guy in Genesis named Abraham. You see, God gave him that name and it meant “Father of many.” God told him that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Problem was that he didn’t have a kid until he was a very old man. Can you imagine him introducing himself?
“What’s your name?”
“Father of many”
“Oh, how many kids do you have?”
“Well, none so far.”
Ouch. That’s embarrassing. But as I consider his legacy, and the promise that God gave him, I’m in awe of the way that God used him. Though he only had a few children by the end of his life, he stands as the patriarch of many nations. The Arab nations were born through his son Ishmael. The Israeli nation was born through his son Isaac. What’s more, God’s blessing passed through his line and gave the world a Savior. All the people on earth have been blessed through Abraham. Moses was a great leader, who led over a million Jews out of captivity. Joshua was a great leader who led the same people into the Promised Land. David was a great king who led a nation, but Abraham has more descendants, physically and spiritually than one could ever count.
Our church is growing. God is adding to our numbers. Chairs are filled, kids areas are booming, and I even have a group of people who seem to like what I have to say. But I have a new desire. I told God that if I had to choose between being a leader of thousands, or the father of many, I want the latter. Abraham may not have had the influence of Moses or David, but he was fruitful. Thank God for the many that he has called to lead multitudes. I’m in awe of the way that God has prospered some ministries. I’m as surprised as anyone to realize that in my heart I don’t dream of ministry success, but spiritual sons and daughters. I hope I don’t have to live to a hundred years old before I see that happen.