Restoring the Godly Call
By Kathaleen Reid Martinez, Ph.D. Director of the Center for Leadership Studies at Regent University.
In our postmodern culture, leaders must follow a godly standard.
For Christians, that standard is nothing less than whom called has called them to be.
Technology explodes around us! Electronic advances accelerate past our abilities to assimilate them. With the new millennium approaching, we roar into an era of organizing globally and nationally. Simultaneously, we are closing out the final traces of the industrial age as we push into the information society.
In the midst of our Modernist culture, our leaders took us into frontiers only dreamed of in centuries past. Men landed on the moon and explored remote planets. Genetic engineering revolutionized our ability to rearrange the minute interior of human life. We combined theory and technology to control the "unruly masses" that threatened global communities. Organizations lived by the rules and values found in social science paradigms. Research enhanced the design of corporate structures and provided leaders with principles to escalate growth in organizations and to improve society.
Through our technologies and scientific theories, we had solutions for the problems of the once proclaimed "Golden Age"—the 20th century. But with the exhilarating rush of scientific breakthroughs came an eclipse of transcendence wherein the human maker superseded the transcendent maker in our culture. Society's leaders often bought into the thinking of such men as Nietzsche, who believed God to be a human construct created because we needed to explain ourselves to ourselves. After all, our leaders often reasoned, our social, economic, and scientific success spoke for itself. We needed no god. By the end of the 1970s, a lack of certitude in our ability to conquer our world surfaced. Speakers such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian author and prison-camp survivor, fed our unease. His words, "Men have forgotten their God," rang quietly in our ears, unable to be silenced.
By 1989, we rejoiced as the Berlin Wall fell! But with the fall came the structural decline of modern secular, social regimes. We faced the reality of no longer being in the "predictable" scientific Modern Age. Now we faced the postmodern world. The challenge was no longer "Men have forgotten their God." The Postmodern challenge became, "Which gods do we remember and serve? What shrines do we build? And to which gods do we build them?" Questions that remind us of the polytheism of ancient Greece and Rome, the days of Peter, Paul, and Silas. Today's society calls out, "Who will lead us into the third millennium?" Solzhenitsyn, speaking before congress two decades ago, put it thusly, "Very soon, only too soon, your country will stand in need of not just exceptional, but of great men. Find them. Find them in your souls. Find them in your hearts. Find them in the depths of your country."
Solzhenitsyn's warning is upon us. How will Christian leaders in our organizations and nation respond? Traditionally, they are taught to "Know thyself," and to "Pursue the good of society." I suggest more. They must ask whom do I serve and for what purposes do I serve? As I lead, when do I show the Truth revealed to me in Jesus Christ? When do I compromise that Truth, and why do I compromise? Last, but not least, do I lead through my epistemology—my knowing as I study more about leadership—or in my ontology—my being where only the Spirit of the living God can provide the leadership within that creates in me a new being?
As Christian leaders answer these questions they must also ask whether they have been called as contemporary Nehemiah’s to rebuild the city walls in the new millennium. To rebuild in postmodern society, leaders must hear the cacophony and plurality of voices, while offering hope by instilling godly principles into their organizations. To rebuild requires following a godly standard. Where is that standard for leadership? For Christians, the standard is in whom God calls them to be. To "know thyself" is not enough; rather, Christian leaders must know themselves in God.
Kathaleen Reid Martinez, Ph.D. is the director of the Center for Leadership Studies at RegentUniversity.
God showed me that our relationship with Him is like my relationship with my son. We want to come alongside of Him and be about the business of the kingdom. We often mess things up, we delay successful outcomes. He does not need us to get the task done. He is about seeking and saving, transforming lost lives. But He is also interested in shaping us. Although God does not need us to fulfill His work, He enjoys co-laboring with us. I want my son to grow up to be a kind, responsible adult. With this goal in mind, I have to be more concerned with his development than I am with ‘getting the job done’. God feels the same way about us!
Isaiah 42:1-9 are powerful verses that directly tell us that God wants to support our work for Him. The basic theme of Isaiah is found in his name. Isaiah means “salvation is of the Lord.” In fact, the book of Isaiah has the word “salvation” in it 26 times. Isaiah is concerned with the theme of salvation beyond the other prophecy books combined. Salvation is a major theme in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah does not view salvation as just something spiritual that will occur in the distant future. Salvation in Isaiah also concerns social, political, and spiritual conditions that are against His truth and ways. Conditions that corrupt. God wants to save His people from the consequences of sin, of an unholy, unrighteous lifestyle. In Isaiah 42:1-9, we see this theme of salvation. We also see the nature of a godly servant. “Here’s my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight. I put my spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice and he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth and in his lull the islands will put their hope. This is what God, the Lord says, he who created the heavens and stretched them out and spread out the earth and all that comes out of it. Who gives breath to his people and life to those who walk on it. This is what God says. I, the Lord, I have called you in righteousness and I will take your hand, I will keep you and I will make you to be a covenant, a covenant for the people and the light for the Gentiles. To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord. That is my name and I will not give my glory to anyone or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place and now things I declare before they spring into being I announce them to you.”
This passage in Isaiah 42 teaches us three things about being a godly servant. First, you must portray a servant’s character. Look at verses 1-4. He is talking about the coming Messiah and he shows us very clearly the character that the coming Messiah will have. “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight and I will put my spirit on him.” Gods’ part is very important for us to understand. He is the one that lifts us up in times of difficulty. God said, “I will uphold, I will hold up, my anointed one.” Before God set Himself to create everything, He had a plan that Jesus Christ would come. He would step from out of eternity and into time. His plan also included us, all who will receive His Son as Savior and Lord. Scripture is clear that He chose us before we chose Him. So, if you want to have the character of a godly servant you must be willing to be upheld and supported by God. You must be willing to give God praise and honor above everything and everyone else. You must realize that you cannot do it yourself!
Secondly, the godly servant must focus on the world around him or her. The godly servant in verse 2 (Christ) will promote justice and comfort the weak and hurting. Verse 3 says, “A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” In gentleness He will comfort and promote justice. He will not falter or be discouraged until he establishes justice on earth. He will persistently pursue justice and deliverance for all who are hurting and willing to listen to His voice. If we want to be godly servants, we will have to follow Jesus’ example. We will have to be concerned about others, especially the hurting and downtrodden. The godly servant brings light where there is darkness. The godly servant attempts to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. To free the captives from sin, death, and hell.
Third, a godly servant must respond to His call. Apart from responding to His call, we are shackled to our own weaknesses and spiritual inadequacies. We must possess the call of God in our lives. We must realize that unless God is in something, mere human effort will not yield eternal results. The successful Christian life is not based on mere human effort. It is a partnership. Without the Christian being conscious of God’s call in his or her life that Christian will flounder and struggle. God’s call involves His general call to a righteous and godly life, behavior that is set apart toward Him, and a specific call to be involved in some activity or profession. Awareness of both calls gives direction and guidance to our lives.
If we want to be godly servants, we need to give God the glory for anything that is accomplished spiritually. Our allegiance is to Him. Yea, it’s nice to get accolades, “Nice job, nice job,” but never forget, a godly servant reflects and portrays the image of the Son. He or she responds to the call, but it is all about Him. We often have our own agenda rather than consider what God wants. The nature of a servant is that the servant is where he is in order to do the will of his master. A servant serves. That is the way it is!
Margaret Fankster Thippen writes about her dad who had a muscular disorder that caused muscular atrophy. Knowing that he was withering away and would not be able to move or even swallow soon, he threw himself into his work as a British minister working with foreign mission homes. At Easter, two weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter. In the letter he said: “It would be terrible to wake up one Easter morning and have no voice to shout, ‘He is risen.’ But it would be more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.” He wrote many letters, many books. He believed that because of the disease that afflicted him, he was able to contribute more time to writing and prayer. His work sparked prayer cells all over Europe. Before his death, he was more focused on serving God and working for His kingdom than at any other time in his life. It was then that he bore much fruit.
God has gifted every one of us to do something unique and special. He has created you to work alongside of Him in some special way. To repeat, the first step in following God is developing godly character. Maybe you have responded to His call for godly behavior and you are developing that character. The next step is involving yourself in some ministry or service that glorifies God. He has gifted you to bring Him glory and honor. If we will use those gifts in service to Him, we will bear fruit. We will grow and mature spiritually and others will be benefited as God ministers to them through us.
Godly Burn up
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