Taking the Next Step

next-stepToday, I want to talk a little bit about your leadership. That’s right, your leadership, because I bet you have some…and maybe more than you think. It might be at work, in church, in the community, or even in your family (because if you’re a parent, you’re a leader).

So, I want to talk about leadership, not because I’m a great leader, but because I’m learning about what being a great leader is about and, in many ways, it’s actually about risking what you have for the future. Let me unpack that.

As a leader, the greatest and hardest kind of fear to overcome is risking what you have for what could be. In many ways, it’s easier to launch something from scratch, than to risk losing what you have for an uncertain future. So, what often happens is people settle – they accept the status quo, and they don’t push forward and rock the boat because it’s easier to accept what you have than to risk it for something even greater.

But, I write all this because I believe you shouldn’t settle and you should push forward. I believe that in whatever area you are leading, settling isn’t the right response. I actually believe that what you will regret is not so much failing, but rather not trying. And, I know it can be hard to risk what you have for the future – to rock the boat a bit or make some real life changes. I just believe it’s worth it.

Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • I think it’s worth the risk to push for an amazing marriage by really serving and sacrificing for the other person, than to settle for just getting by.
  • I think it’s worth the risk to really seek to lead your family spiritually, than to settle for hope that going to church will be enough.
  • I think it’s really worth the risk of cutting down your work hours in order to invest in your kids.
  • I think it’s really worth the risk to try a new initiative in order to move forward in your business or ministry, even if you might not make it.

Because, the truth is, we often listen to fear that continually says, “What if you lose what you have?” I would rather have you listen to hope that says, “What if you do make it? What if that change does work? What if it’s really worth it?

Because, I sincerely believe that the best decisions come not from listening to fear, but to hope. And, I believe you are probably leading in some place, so what if you listen to hope and really take a leap of faith? Because, all I know, is that settling has never led to a life full of meaning, and I think that’s what we are after.

Followers of Jesus ~ Actually Follow Him and Step Out of the Boat

st_peterLast Sunday we looked at an interesting passage where Jesus comes to the disciples walking on the water. In the next moment Peter asks Jesus to call him out on the wind and waves. Jesus does, and Peter steps out. Then Peter starts to sink…

This seems to be the part that most of us remember and focus on. Somehow this has become a picture of Peter’s failure, when that misses the point completely. This isn’t a picture of Peter’s failure…but of Peter’s growth.

No one does anything perfectly the first time (expect maybe for Jesus). All of us learn through failing, succeeding, and trying again. What we forget is that growing often starts with failing. So when Peter starts to sink it’s not a failure, per say, but instead a moment where he grows.

Earlier that day Jesus had given him a clear command to feed the people. Peter refused. This time Jesus give Peter another clear command to come to him on the wind and waves. This time Peter doesn’t refuse but jumps over the side of the boat into the dark, turbulent waters. Peter is learning. And yes he sinks, but Jesus grabs him and together hand in hand they walk back to the boat. Peter learns that he can only do this thing  through and in Jesus.

This is the point for us, that we often are scared of failing. We don’t follow Jesus when he gives us clear commands (forgive, serve, give, follow, etc) because we are scared of failing. But here is the thing. Jesus isn’t scared of us failing, he is worried about us staying in the boat. Because Jesus knows that theory will never teach us better than hands on experience.

So if you want to grow as a disciple the next step is clear. Step out of the boat. When Jesus calls us…follow. Because that’s what disciples do.

We ended off the sermon with three ways to follow. First, get to know Jesus by reading the gospels this week. Read them and search not for information on Jesus, but for direction from him. Secondly, when you have direction, follow him and act on it. If you are moved by the difficulty of greed – step out of the boat – and give. If you are moved by the need to serve the poor – step out of the boat – and start. And lastly, get together with some other people because this isn’t meant to be a journey alone…but with Jesus and others…as we all try to step out of the boat to follow him…

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: Apprentices follow Jesus in action

Take Aways…

  • “Grace isn’t opposed to effort, its opposed to earning” Dallas Willard
  • The action of an apprentice is all about following
  • We see learning as becoming theory experts where Jesus sees it as mastering a craft
  • You will not grow without attempting things you cannot do
  • If Jesus is doing it, we can be part of it
  • Jesus doesn’t want to do ministry for the disciples but through the disciples
  • An apprentice follows Jesus even out into the wind and waves
  • You learn more through practice than through theory
  • Get to Know Jesus: Read the gospels this week listening for Jesus voice
  • Get Practicing: Take a step out when Jesus calls you
  • Get Together: Gather with friends to discuss the next steps Jesus is asking you to take

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? What did you think of the difference between earning grace and showing effort because of grace? How do you make sure we don’t just end up “knowing lots about Jesus” without actually “becoming like Jesus”? Has Jesus ever called you to do something before (i.e. get rid of anger, forgive, start a ministry, etc)? Did you follow through? What was the outcome? What might Jesus be calling you to do today? How will you do it? Who can help you in it?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment to sit down with your kids and talk about what “following Jesus” looks like to them. Talk about how for them it might look like sharing, forgiving, and reaching out to kids who don’t have friends. Talk about the specific things Jesus has called you to do in your life (maybe change jobs, talk to someone, or give up a grudge). Share how it made a difference and why it matters. Also share with them how you’d like to follow Jesus together as a family.

Challenge for this Week:

Get to Know Jesus (Read the Gospels), Start Following (Put into Practice what Jesus asks), Get Together (Share with Friends how you are trying to follow Jesus)