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There are moments when others will mistakenly believe we carry the leadership baton, when in fact we are only servants of it. This was the case with John.
People thought he was the Messiah. He quickly turned this around by showing that he only had a small part. The greater vision was coming. Responding in humility, boldly opens the door for vision to be released.
Note that John knew the message and shamelessly proclaimed it. By doing such, he immediately dismissed himself from receiving any glory. He was only a servant to the greater vision.
Too many aspiring leaders disqualify themselves by promoting themselves. The color we bring to a vision serves to compliment the other ones. Together we make a bold and beautiful vision.
I love John’s reply in verse 16. “…but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am-…” Later John goes on to suggest that who they were seeking will do even greater things. This is the mark of a true servant-leader.
In every vision there are a multitude of people who play a vital role to its release. It is therefore crucial that each member know their part and operate in it with both confidence and humility. John is a great example of both.
How much of a role do you play in the vision of others?
How are you walking in boldness with humility in this vision?
Leaders know how to take an obscure vision and make it practical and attainable.
Immediately following John’s words to bring fruit in keeping with repentance, the crowd asks, “What then shall we do?” I love John’s response.
Share with others. Don’t take more than is yours. Don’t threaten anyone.
Three simple things. Practical and attainable.
Note that John addresses the entire crowd in his delivery. He tells the everyday person to share a tunic. He charges the tax collectors to only take what is rightfully theirs. He commands the soldiers with do not extort money from others. In other words he breaks down the vision for each person. He makes it real for them.
As leaders, we can have incredible vision but the real question is whether the vision will reach all people. Can everyone be included in the vision? Are the first steps attainable? As a leader, do you know how to include, involve and initiate change?
Finally, allow me to draw your attention to the motive behind vision. Compassion.
If our vision is not about helping others, it’s a vision about us. Selfish.
How are you including others in your vision?
How can you make your purpose wrap its arms around compassion?
Harsh words to say the least! And yet true.
At times God calls his leaders to a raise their voice, even if it shakes a bit. We are called to echo the words and heart of God to a generation. This is the purpose for which God gives vision to his people.
Vision is to unify and bring meaningful purpose to people’s lives. As harsh as the words John proclaimed on that day, they were meant to align people and call them to a greater good.
John challenges the people to bear good fruit. What may be interpreted as a mean guy that is simply yelling at people is really all about a man with a vision to restore kindness and grace to a nation.
Kindness and grace comes as we do our best to bring good fruit. This is in response to the three verses we looked at previously (4-6) and appear just above these three verses (7-9). Make paths straight and fill the valleys. In other words the ‘how’ to the ‘what.’
Every visionary must have a how to the what. What is the vision God has given you? How are you going to see it happen? When and where will you share it?
I’ve seen many a leader who has the what of the vision but has little idea of how and when and where. Oh, and don’t forget, why. Why? To bear good fruit. This is the purpose of vision.
Do you know the why, what, where, when, who and how of the vision you hold?
Your vision carries history and destiny with it.
Luke 3.4 – “As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet…” A God vision has been breathing for a long time. God patiently waits for the individual to walk out the vision. This was the destiny of John the Baptist. He was simply putting feet to the vision written hundreds of years prior to John.
As Kingdom leaders we are to prepare the way of the Lord with each vision. This requires us to know the history of Scripture and the destiny it brings. As mentioned before our leadership is to help others in their pursuit of Christ.
Note John’s call. “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
“Make his paths straights.”
“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.”
In other words we are to level the playing field for all. The purpose behind this? To grant access for all to come to know Jesus. If our vision does anything less than this it is a selfish one at best.
We can’t afford to have more of a vision for erecting a building than we do in building people into giant Christ followers. Every aspect of our leadership should be meticulously designed to make rough places, level ways (verse 5).
How is your vision as a leader helping others in life?
What are you doing to make crooked paths straight?
God is clearing a pathway for the vision you’ve been given.
Remember John, Zechariah’s son? God did not forget him. Fast forward approximately 18 years and we see John going about preparing others for Jesus. 18 years is a long time to wait for the vision to make its way into the hearts and minds of people.
For all those years the vision was made to marinade in the life of Jesus. He learned the culture, the land, and the people. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is taking a vision to others without learning about those who will receive the vision.
Note how these three verses name nine people as well as the region. This provides the backdrop for the vision. It becomes imperative that leaders take time to study the ingredients surrounding them in order to understand what the vision will marinade in.
Never make the mistake of underestimating this. In this time of waiting, we are given insight into potential opposition we may face. This allows us time to adequately prepare ourselves and the message.
Finally, we see another, John who goes before us to prepare the hearts of others. Teamwork is a vital ingredient to seeing the vision radiate into the lives of the people.
What are you doing with your vision during your season of waiting?
Who do you have on your team?
Not everyone will understand the vision God gives to his leaders. Leaders must learn to develop their character as tall as the vision God gives.
Jesus tells his parents the purpose he was given and they didn’t understand it (verse 50). No one understood Jesus more than his parents yet they were not able to grasp the meaning. There will be, at times, people closest to you who do not understand what it is in your heart to do.
Regardless, Jesus goes with his parents and remains submissive to them. The very people who couldn’t comprehend his vision! This speaks of a leader’s ability to have great vision and yet remain humble and under authority.
I’ve known many a leader who received a vision only to remove himself from those around him out of pride. Submission is a vital part of the release of the vision. Pushing people away from you because they don’t get it is one way to see a vision die.
The result of all of this?
Jesus increased in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man (verse 52). The accountability he placed himself in allowed for the vision within him to flourish. Never underestimate the power of accountability.
Our growth as leaders is as important as the growth of the vision.
How are you staying grounded as you lead?
Who are the people you allow to speak into your life?
Leaders constantly prepare for their time to lead.
Jesus is 12 years old when he gains opportunity to teach in the temple. Other leaders are around him asking questions and listening to him (verse 46).
The first 12 years of Jesus’ life are silent. We really have little idea of what was going on in the home of Joseph and Mary. What we can conclude is that Jesus was learning all he could from his parents and the voice of his Father.
Remember, his parents are righteous people. They would have taught Jesus the Scriptures and raised him in an environment of strong character. Now at age 12, Jesus puts all he learned to the test, one might say, before the leaders in Jerusalem.
We realize that for five days Jesus is left on his own. We know this as his parents spend one day traveling from Jerusalem, one day traveling back and three days searching. Each day he is meeting with leaders. What did he do at night? How did he eat? Where did he sleep? He obviously knew more than the Scriptures. He knew how to take care of himself.
We marvel at the fact that he was sitting with other leaders. What I find fascinating is that he had no trouble in finding food or a place to sleep. This tells me of the character he had developed over the past 12 years.
Jewish individuals were very hospitable so I’m sure he had others offering places to stay and food for him to eat. Yet it was in Jesus’ ability to relate to the everyday person that is remarkable. I believe this is the mark of a leader’s ability to walk in humility.
He knows how to ask politely. He knows how to say thank you. He knows how to conduct himself when he is not with leaders. This is the mark of true character. Being authentic when you’re not in the spotlight.
What character traits do you posses?
Which character traits do you need to improve on?
What else did you notice from this passage as it relates to character?