As leaders in the body of Christ we are not just gifted to lead by the grace that is given to us in Christ, we are to also be examples of the character of Christ to those we lead. This is perhaps the greatest testimony of our leadership to the lives of those that we stand before in the spheres of our influence in life. The process of God’s grace in each of our lives is one of revealing the testimony of Christ in us. This means that the character, nature, way, power, and authority of Christ must become embodied in each of our lives. Whether it is the promises of God or the pressures of testing, both are part of a process in our lives that makes us partakers of God’s divine nature. The promises are the substance of life that He gives us and the pressures of testing are the proving of what is being given to us by God within our lives.
2 Peter 1:4 …by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the Holy Spirit who was given to us has poured out the love of God in our hearts.
Our peace with God is not merely a state of being calm in our hearts or at ease in our soul. Our peace is a positioning in Christ whereby there is no gap between God and us. We have been made one with Him and there is no separation between Him and us. In this He manifests in our lives and His Spirit is the substance of His grace that changes our lives from the inside out. The true test of what is in us is made known by the pressures that come against us from the outside sources of our lives. This dynamic of the inward life of Christ and the outward pressures upon our lives causes the testimony of Christ within us to become a force of life that changes the character of our lives. In this process of grace we face tribulations or pressures in life. All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
When we face the pressures of persecution we choose to persevere. Perseverance is not just a holding on to something in pain. It is a position of attitude from within our hearts. It is a choosing to cheerfully endure in the midst of the pressures that are against us. This is not just a thing of our soul. It requires us to draw from our spirits to receive the life of the Holy Spirit within our hearts. In the presence of the Lord there is the fullness of joy and true perseverance is drawing upon the presence of God in our hearts in order to see His life flood our souls with the testimony of true endurance. It is not a thing of misery, but a decision to embrace the life of Christ that is within us. True perseverance always carries the substance of a choice to be cheerful and to endure. It is a cheerful endurance. When we find the secret of true perseverance we discover the key to seeing the character of Christ in us manifest. Our own character changes by the life of the character of Christ within us. The beliefs of our hearts become transformed by His life within us and this empowers our actions to be those of the character of Christ. Those inspired actions activate the imaginations of our hearts. Our imaginations begin to create the truth of Christ and His kingdom that defy the pressures that oppose us. This in turn releases an influence of the change of character in our lies. This is seen as hope – a testimony of Christ in us revealed through the substance of our lives.
As leaders we set an example that others can follow in this process of change. The character of Christ becomes manifest in us when the beliefs of our hearts receive and trust Him more that the things that oppose us in life. Whatever we believe determines how we act, how we act determines what we think about, and what we think about determines our influence in this world. What we think about determines what comes off of us, and this influences those around us in this world. Andre Maurious said, “If you create an act, you create a habit. If you create a habit, you create a character. If you create a character, you create a destiny” I believe that the true actions of our lives are determined by the true beliefs of our hearts. Christ in us is the key to this process of change in our lives. Our character is to be the character of Christ. This is more important than the gifting, the skills, the charisma, or the manifested talents of our lives. It is Christ’s character that can sustain Christ’s gifting and it is only that which of Christ that can overcome the world. As leaders we must know that the pressures of life appear as our enemy, but the power of Christ within us is a greater friend than the weapons that oppose us. We must pay more attention to our character, than to the surface abilities of leadership.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson