In July, Gem and I had the honor of leading a two-day retreat for the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda. Present were the archbishop and his wife along with about 35 bishops and their wives. About one-third of today’s 43 million Ugandans are part of this national church. It was encouraging to discover that our important insights about Christian life and leadership were life-giving to them as well.
At the end of our two days, the Archbishop expressed his appreciation for what we had taught them. Here were a few of his closing comments:
“Sometimes we think that in the West that there are not very many people who can talk about their encounter, the beginning of their journey, with Jesus Christ. But both of you spoke about when you were young people, about how the Lord has kept you as husband and wife. And so you have shared your own experience of those many years and, indeed, God’s work in your hearts. In you, we see faithful servants, obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ and, as I have said, fellow ministers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the kingdom of God (emphasis mine).”
The archbishop commented on our testimony, on the way in which we shared our own experience over many years walking with Jesus. We’ve often shared that the words of calling we received in our twenties were these: “You will share your lives.” The Archbishop’s comments were among the best encouragements we’ve ever received. His words were a beautiful confirmation of what God began 30 years before.
Our greatest source of kingdom influence is our own life being transformed by God. We don’t just share ideas about God, but we share God from within our own lives.
Jesus tells us to bring our thirsts to him, to trust him, and it will be as though rivers of living water flow from within us. By that he meant the very presence of God, the Holy Spirit, would flow from within us to bless others (Jn 7:37-39). I want to live that way. I want to lead that way. Don’t you?
We’re often invited to speak to groups in conference, retreat, and leadership team situations. We’re invited to a role of leadership in that we’re going to share the insights and wisdom we have to offer. But even in those situations, our primary source of influence is our lives that we’ve come to live rooted in God over decades of life.
Think about the people who have had a deep impact on your life. Isn’t it usually something about who they were and how they related to you that you remember more than something they said or even did? And this is what people remember about you. This is your influence in their lives.
So, how can you strengthen your leadership? Learn to more fully cooperate with the work of God transforming you into the image of God, and then share that story with others.