Life rarely turns out like we think. Leadership is not what we assume when we sign up. The goal of success is not accomplishment but relinquishment. We are told that if we do certain things, we will gain what we desire. Leadership is about acquisition. The American church has largely put all its chips in on the American dream, freedom, and success. We measure the wrong things, and we chase the wrong dreams.

In Matthew 16 we see one of the greatest proclaimations of the person of Christ in Scriptuer. Peter is asked by Jesus who do men say that I am. Peter tells Jesus who others say he is. Jesus then says Peter, who do you say that I am. Peter says you are the Christ (the anointed one). Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” That is powerful stuff.

Jesus then goes on to “show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Peter did not like this. He said Jesus, far be it that you should suffer and die. Peter saw victory as accomplishment, not relinquishment. Jesus’s rebuke was as effusive as his praise for Peter had been a few verses ago. He says get behind me, satan. It was one of the harshest criticisms any disciple would ever receive. Jesus was saying that suffering, death, and resurrection are not optional. They are central to God’s plan.

Then Jesus does something so powerful and so profound. He doesn’t just scold Peter for his pity but he invites us into where true joy and true victory is found. He calls us to relinquish our lives, our dreams, and our future. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

The key to greatness in God’s coming kingdom he told his disciples is not through power and accomplishment but through death and relinquishment. We as western Christians don’t like either. We experience the need for cross bearing in our relationships, in our careers, or in our marriage and family sisutiaions and we fight for control. We fight aginst the call to give up what was never ours. We join Peter in saying “surely not me Lord.” We wollow in the self-pity of those who feel that they have missed the best moments of life the best offers that they believe they deserve to have the success far to many preachers on TV have told them they are owed.

What we are called to do is put to death ever vestage of self pity. Put to death every desire for control. We are called to relinquish our rights and to walk in obedance to Christ and take up our cross daily. The problem for us is we see relinquishment as giving up what is ours we see it as weakness. We hate it. Controll is our precious. It is the things we love most in this life, because we feel that if we can control our present, it will repair the sorrows of the past and guarantee our future happiness. The Jesus way is relinquish what isn’t yours what never was yours because Christ gave up willing what actually was his. He relinquished glory to live for you, die for you, come to life again for you and acend to heaven and to plead for you to interceede on your behalf.

We see relinquishment as giving up what is ours or what is owed us. Or we see it as some act of resignation and fatalism. Far from it. It is a letting go of what was never yours so you can free your hands to accept from God’s goodness what he has already ordained for you, for your good and his glory.

Elisabeth Elliot in her book Finding Your Way through Loneliness talks about what she wrote in her journal after she came to understand that her husband Jim had been killed by the very people he had tried to bring the good news of God’s love.

Life begins a new chapter—this time without Jim. . . . I have been reading over some of the first part of this book—it is almost prophetic. They were days when God was teaching me to find satisfaction in Himself, without Jim. But always there was the hope that some day He would give us to one another. He did, on October 8, 1953. Two years and three months together.

If Thy dear Home be fuller, Lord, For that a little emptier My house on earth, what rich reward That guerdon were.
Amy Carmichael

These words come to me over and over. The peace which I have received is certainly beyond all understanding. As I went about my work in the house, on the station, with the Indians, I found peace as I looked up to the Father of Lights, from whom comes “every good endowment and every complete gift” (James 1:17 Phillips).

I say that I found peace. I do not say that I was not lonely. I was—terribly. I do not say that I did not grieve. I did—most sorely. But peace of the sort the world cannot give comes, not by the removal of suffering, but in another way—through acceptance. I was learning that the same Lord, in whom there is “never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency” (James 1:17 Phillips), the Lord who had given me singleness and marriage as gifts of His love, had now given me this one. Would I receive it from His hand? Would I thank Him for it?

Elisabeth Elliot

The call to follow Christ is not one victory after the next. Very often it feels like death after death because that’s what a cross produces. We are called by Christ if we are are to be his disciples to take up our cross daily and follow obedientaly. His call to us is the call to lose your life in order to find it. In our culture one that worships success to the point that we measure faithful ministry by success and not surrender. We must be a people who do not say “never Lord” when he places his good hand on something we believe to be most precious. Rather we must give what was never ours to gain what we could never earn.

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