Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Leadership, Submission, Support, Obedience


February 18, 2018

Hebrews 13:17 (p. 845)


One of my favorite poems ever written is a take off of the famous Footprints poem…It goes like this:

Butt prints in the Sand

One night, I had a wondrous dream;

One set of footprints there was seen.

The footprints of my precious Lord,

But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,

And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”

“Those prints are large and round and neat,

But, Lord, they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in sombre tones.

“For miles I carried you alone.

I challenged you to walk in faith,

But you refused and made me wait.

You disobeyed, you would not grow,

The walk-of-faith you would not know.

So I got tired and fed up,

And there I dropped you on your butt,

Because in life, there comes a time,

When one must fight, and one must climb,

When one must rise and take a stand,

Or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

The Key truth to being a follower of Jesus, a disciple, is that you’re following Him…He’s your leader.

Disciples are made…they are learners and they are doers. Jesus said “Come follow me,” and His disciples did…He stayed close enough that He could share life with His disciples, but He constantly pushed them forward…He showed them the way by example, and loved them back when they got off track. Jesus modeled what following God was like…He knew people aren’t changed by coercion or intimidation, but by example.

Jesus knew there was a huge difference between a “Boss” and a “Leader.”

Bosses tell you to “GO.” Leaders say “LET’S GO.”

Every Jew in Jerusalem lived under a boss. Rome and it’s authority occupied Judea. Roman law was absolute and then soldiers were there to enforce those laws…It’s the exact reason Jesus tells His disciples:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.” (Matthew 20:25)

Basically Jesus says, “The bosses of the world love to tell you what to do…and they love sitting behind their desks making you do it.”

But then He teaches His followers…“Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”

Jesus said, “Great leaders must first become great servants.”

Jesus knew that leaders reproduce what they are…Jesus was a servant-leader. It was His model for disciple making when He walked the earth…and it’s still His model for His church.

Gardenside is filled with servant leaders…some of them have official titles and many of them don’t. But all of them understand good leaders are good servants and we reproduce what we are…and if you insist on leaving butt prints in the sand…they will not drag you.

The writer of Hebrews knew that leadership in the church is extremely rewarding, filled with the joy of seeing lives being changed, but it’s also extremely difficult if not supported and encouraged.

It’s why he says:


“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.”

Obedience and submission don’t come naturally to our sinful and rebellious hearts. The rejection of authority does. The anarchy flag was raised in the Garden of Eden by our spiritual parents…and that nature inhabits every single human soul.

We don’t like it when our parents set down rules. We don’t like it when the government tells us how fast to drive or where to park. We struggle when church leaders make decisions that affect our comfort.

George Barna has a new volume called “Moral and Spiritual Anarchy.” He flatly states that moral anarchy has arrived and rules our culture today. The argument hinges on…a substantial amount of attitudinal and behavioral evidence: record bankruptcy levels, frivolous lawsuits, the rapid growth of the pornography industry, highway speeding as the norm, income tax cheating, computer hacking and viruses, rising levels of white collar crime, rampant copyright violations (movies, books, recordings), terrorism and intimidation tactics, net-based plagiarism, emotional comfort with lying and cheating, increasing rates of co-habitation and adultery, and so forth.

Moreover, Barna takes the argument farther and suggests that the United States is now in a state of spiritual anarchy as well. He mentioned that millions of people’s faith activity is no longer affected by parameters such as church loyalty, respect for clergy, acceptance of absolutes, tolerance of Christianity, reverence for God, a desire to strive for personal holiness, sensitivity to theological heresy, and appreciation of tradition. The rejection of these elements has created a void that has been filled by the customized spirituality that lacks biblical moorings. Obey and submit are not two words that find an easy place in our rebellious hearts. In a climate where we mistrust leadership…sometimes because they’ve disappointed us with their character or their direction…whether it be preachers or politicians…we become cynical of motives…and the cynicism brings about judgment and criticism.

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