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From child training, to public education, to corporate management theory, there is a common theme of teaching people obedience. Professional mentoring, journeyman training, and discipleship in the church revolve around a similar principle. The fact is that when we are young and immature, the easiest way to learn is by doing what we’re told. That’s where it starts.
The problem comes when we never teach people how to learn for themselves. More specifically, how to connect with their own hearts. Most of Christianity is premised on the idea of obeying God. Charismatics might say obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit. The goal is to work with the Father and build the Kingdom. I’m suggesting that maturity is graduating out of obedience into something better. What is it?
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Gal 3:24-25 NKJV
Freedom – Obedience in no way defines spiritual maturity. God is looking for fellowship and teamwork, not mindless and heartless robots. The most dangerous forms of obedience occur in religious cults – sharia law is a contemporary example. When people stopping thinking for themselves and listening to their own hearts we can become most despotic, self-righteous and deaf.
We do hear God’s voice for specifics, and feel the quickening of his written word to gain direction. We can even have dreams and see visions and receive the counsel and confirmation of mentors. That’s all good in its proper place. However, the primary means of hearing God is through the desires that He wrote in our hearts. The largest and most prophetic move toward the Kingdom right now is learning to connect with your heart and enjoy what you do. Most Christians and most professional people are not really in touch with their own hearts. People who are most creative, productive and motivated are simply connected to the desires that God wrote in their hearts. That lifestyle is a lot more fun than trying to live out of a rule book, whether religious or corporate. You can try to live up to the expectations of others (including and especially God’s) and you will eventually wear yourself out and give up. You were not designed to live by a set of rules. Obedience is the heart boundary that leads to performance.
Getting connected – Your heart needs a reason for what you do. The starting place is to realize you already have heart motivations that have led you to where you are right now. If you want to go higher, your heart has to change its desires. The sweetest place in life is connecting the desires God wrote in your heart with the desires already in God’s heart for the Kingdom. You will really enjoy that track and it will be fruitful personally, professionally, spiritually and financially.
Connecting others – The next sweetest thing is helping others to connect with their own hearts. As a young engineer, one of my first managers was widely respected professionally. He told me in a light-hearted way a number of times, “John, if you can’t prove me wrong at least once a year, I don’t need you.” He would then cite a few examples of other engineers who had already proven him wrong. It was his covert way to teaching me to think for myself and to connect with my own heart instead of just doing what I was told. He was a very strong leader with excellent engineering skills. But, his best skill was surrounding himself with the same kind of people (talented, creative, bold and hard-working). He encouraged engineers to fight for their positions… and to make sure that they had a good technical basis for them. It was a huge privilege to work in his organization. It was demanding, fun, productive and very satisfying to get great things accomplished.
Here are a few leadership tenets that I learned from him.
- We can tell others what to do, but they are much more effective if we tell them why and let them figure out the “how” and “what.”
- We should help people find assignments that fit with what God has already put in their hearts. That means listening to their hearts first. They often won’t know either at an intellectual level.
- The biggest and best “why” has some track back to what the Father is doing. Whether saved or unsaved people come alive when they have an opportunity to work with their heavenly Father. Passing out assignments is management. Leadership is connecting hearts with purpose.
- Help people to connect with their passion by celebrating their successes. Corporate people, in particular, need to learn to dance.
- The whole process of connecting hearts involves the release of gifts and ministries. But, the underlying ingredient is love. We can only lead people we have a heart for. We are committed to the corporate agenda, but our love for people is what makes achievement of those goals possible.
Don’t just do what you’re told. Never just tell others what to do. Lead the way God does; from the heart. Give hearts a reason… a vision of the great things ahead that are worth sacrifice in the present. If we can grasp this concept, we will do much more that what we are told… exceed the law.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:20 NIV