How Close Can You Get?

By Liam Glover

[6 min read]

How Close Can You Get?

I remember many years ago when I was involved in youth ministry (back when I had hair) young people (mostly guys, to be honest) would approach me asking me what, from a Christian perspective, is OK regarding the way they interact with their girlfriend or fiancée. 

I would buy them a drink (usually some form of caffeination) and sit across a table from them to tell them a story about cattle farming in the outback. Cattle properties can be 1000s of hectares, with fences that are 100s of kilometres in length, making fencing the property uneconomical. So, the strategy was very simple. Place food lots and water troughs in the centre of the property. Farmers didn’t need to concern themselves about the edges of the property, because the livestock would always want to locate themselves as close as possible to the source of life – food and water.

Upon hearing this, I’d invite the young person to see their question from a different perspective. My hope was that they would ask themselves not about how far away can they be away from the source of life as they interact with their significant other, (even dangling their leg over the metaphorical boundary fence), but how close can they find themselves to the life source. 

How close should we be from the one who is leading us – who is the way, the truth and the life? 20 or so years later and I find myself serving Arrow Leadership, whose tag line is “to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, to lead more to Jesus.”

What does it look like for leaders to be led more by Jesus, especially now, as we lead exhausted people from a state of depletion There are a few things to consider:

 

How do we develop our remaining?

In the agrarian world, so I am reliably informed, the quality and quantity of fruit on a fruit tree is determined by the level of connection that branch (upon which the fruit hangs) has to the trunk. (And then in turn determined by the appropriate level of soil nutrients, water, sunlight, etc.)

There is not very much fruit to enjoy if there is a disconnect or distance from the life source. 

Jesus’ words captured in John 15:5,8 read, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. …. When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”

The production of Kingdom fruit is in direct relationship to our remaining. For leaders to be led more by Jesus, we need to find ourselves so inextricably linked to the vine (Jesus). I have experienced significant life from establishing a Rule for Living, which provides appropriate structures to engage in spiritual rhythms which foster and further my relationship with Christ.

What practices or rhythms have you established that allow you to consistently remain connected to the vine? Do you need to integrate more disciplines of abstinence and less disciplines of engagement? Or vice versa?

 

How do we develop our followership?

It is significantly more complex than tapping on the button follow on insta. Followership requires commitment. It requires faithfulness. It requires obedience.

I found myself recently in a conversation with a Christian leader about ways to describe a spiritually mature Christian or, perhaps more acutely, possible definitions of a spiritually mature Christian.

One suggestion proffered was along the lines of, “someone who serves others more.” No doubt, serving others is a key hallmark of Christian maturity. Another definition was, “someone who has, and obediently responds to, revelations from our trinitarian God in the shortest time.”

We read in Matthew 7 and Luke 6 about the reality that storms strike and rising flood waters impact everyone, the impact of which is determined by the quality of the foundation. And, from Jesus’ perspective, the only difference between the two types of foundation is the key word “follows” (Luke 6:47).

Each person comes to Jesus. Each person listens to Jesus’ teaching.

However, the enduring person is the one who follows.

If we remain in Christ (as suggested in my first observation above), we might see ourselves, in the context of the storm story of Jesus, coming to Jesus. And in remaining, we might also be listening to Jesus.

Importantly, however, how are we following the teaching of Jesus by putting his teaching into practice?

What intentional strategies do you have in place to integrate the revelations experienced through exposure to the teachings of Jesus? Research points to a 50% loss of transformative impact where we do not apply within 48 hours revelations to our context. To say it another way, without application of the revelation within 48 hours, we might only experience half of what God might intend through us and in us.

 

How do we develop our faith?

If you drive at night a small distance out of town (whatever that may be in your context), you find yourself where street lighting no longer illuminates the road before you. You are exclusively relying on the throw of your headlights to show you the way – for the next 50 metres or so. 

When I am driving on such a road, I travel in my car at the speed limit, which is usually 80 or 100km/hr. I have faith that beyond the 50 or so metres I can see, there is more pavement on which to drive. I do not drive in staccato fashion – driving slowly then quickly, concerned about whether there is more road upon which I can drive.

Psalm 119:105 is a familiar verse, but bares repeating, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet, and a light for my path.” So often this verse is quoted or referenced, but re-interpreted to mean, “your word is a lamp to my future and a light for my plans.”

The revelation of the word who became flesh (John 1) is sufficient such that we can be confident in stepping towards our immediate future, not necessarily knowing our ultimate destination. We have such strong desires to know our future and invite our trinitarian God to bring a revelation of our future.

But Jesus’ consistent invitation is to follow him. 

Every step of being led more by Jesus increases our trust and faith in him. His desire is that we follow so closely to his footsteps that our view of the future is obscured by the soles of his sandals. And that’s OK.

How do you actively reduce the scope of your vision to seeing what God has for you now in your present immediate future context? What intentional process is required to allow you to be fully occupied with where Jesus is taking you, as you seek to lead others and organisations to increasing Kingdom realities?

To explore these questions (and other key leadership considerations), connect here with one of the team to discuss participation in one of our transformational experiences.

So my final question is, “As you are led more by Jesus, how close are you?”