A few days ago I tweeted a confession: “Jesus Christ blows me away. I’ve been walking with him for twenty-three years, and he still surprises me.”
A good friend of mine picked up on that confession on Facebook. “Now what did he do?”
Oh, nothing big. He just took my theology and dumped it on its head, which upended my whole philosophy of leadership. Again.
Jesus has been doing hilarious miracles in my life. Maybe I’m the only one who’s laughing, but I can’t count how many times recently I’ve just tilted my head back and reveled in the absurdity of it all. The funny part (at least to me) is that the jokes have been at my expense.
First, a life-long struggle I’ve had with anger just kinda evaporated a couple of weeks ago. I only realized in retrospect.
Next, I got an email from the German Publisher of Finding Home, in which I was reminded that my book is going into a second printing there (praise God!) and that a nice royalty cheque is on the way. Which is hysterical, because I don’t speak German and have done zippo to market the book out there. FYI, that’s not supposed to work.
And then, just last week, I blogged on grace, only to watch in astonishment (and again, laughter) as my hit count for the day rose beyond my average 43 hits to 349, then 452, 556, 689, 778—coming to a halt at 855 views. Did I mention that I did nothing different that day?
And then this morning, I got a wonderful email from a guy serving in a church I worked with for nine years (but left behind five and half years ago). He wrote,
“Hi Brad, Just wanted to encourage you. Thanks for all the work you put into the Prayer Manual for healing prayer at ______________! I want you to know that we are making copies and are using it to train people in healing prayer. Please pray that this will bear fruit… we are being empowered and are seeing lives transformed.”
The slapstick comedy in this latest revelation is that I got into seriously hot water while serving in said church for the prayer ministry training he’s talking about—to such a degree that a couple of parishioners called several interrogation meetings. A few people even wanted me ousted as Youth Pastor. After thoroughly investigating what I was doing (both locally and with our Conference), our Board affirmed my approach as thoroughly biblical, but the damage was done. So imagine my delight, five and a half years later, with no input on my part, upon discovering that someone had dusted off that old material and is using it in the very place that rejected it.
I’ve also realized a few things about my leadership recently. The people in my life who “get it” with Jesus the most, need me the least. My most brilliant attempts to galvanize people around truth and outreach have often produced… next to nothing, at least that I can see. Truthfully, the most incredible moments in my career have just kinda happened, appearing “out of thin air” around me more than through me. These things are rarely planned. In fact, they often arrive in the playful guise of an interruption to my brilliant plans.
Amidst all this hilarity sits a frustratingly counter-intuitive parable God’s been using to pull the carpet right out from under my belief system.
26 (Jesus) also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
What?! Yup. All this has prompted other confessions from my soul: “Jesus, I’m a Lead Pastor of a church and I have no idea what I’m doing. I thought I did, but apparently not.” And apparently that’s not just okay, it’s ideal. That way God gets the glory. This principle works whether we believe it or not, but I can say from experience: Believing that true kingdom growth isn’t up to me, that I don’t and won’t understand it, seems to take the thing to a whole new level. My job is to scatter seed, then let God do his thing. When it’s ready to harvest, I get to swing the sickle. Woo hoo!
Jesus, lead on.
And keep me laughing.