The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.
Some Ancient Thoughts
Leaders must feel shame when “their words are better than their deeds”
Exemplary persons first accomplish what they are going to say, then they say it.”
Understanding your target audience is both a good marketing principle and a good writing guideline. Mine, for these leadership blogs, is for in one word – Christians – but not religious people.
I draw a distinction. Committed followers of Christ understand where they are going; religious people often deceive themselves.
It is that later group to whom Jesus was speaking in the Sermon on the Mount when He made some startling comments.
His audience had not rejected God – they were not atheists or agnostics and pantheist. They were a mix from what we might call Deists to Fundamentalists for that time. He said that a person’s words and even some of their wonderful behaviors (preaching, exorcisms and miracles) are worth nothing unless both the words and deeds come from a heart that has been changed by an intimate relationship with their Creator. In fact, He said, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!” To that audience he made three major points:
Content of the words does matter. Jesus warns his listeners about leaders who speak wonderful words but empty words – words that deceive. Religious words, like leadership words, can be seductive – some words ring true: some contain truth. The most dangerous words, however, are the ones cloaked in Christianize, but underneath lurks an agenda that includes pluralism and secular humanism. The words seem wonderful. They may even inspire great behavior. But, so what! Do they produce life?
Character matters! Also, in that Sermon, Jesus reminds us that deeds and actions produce evidence that both come from a center that is not natural to a person; it is supernatural. A heart has been changed supernaturally. The words said and the deeds practiced can produce some good results; but, when the going gets tough, the character emerges behind the words. If those words only come from a head-knowledge of Christ, they are dead. Words that give life come from a heart-knowledge. Words may say that we put the needs of others first. Good. What do the actions say? Does the fruit of words and deeds produce life? Eternal life?
Choices have consequences. Jesus points out to the religious audience that God’s way is not very popular. Narrow was the image He used. Broad is the way of the Lie. Narrow is the way of the Truth: That’s not the “pretty choice.” Narrow is confining. But the prudent find it, choose it and use it. Those choosing the Broad Way – a way filled with religion of many kinds – are judged. Harshly. Eternally. God must stand upon Truth. His ultimate judgment is NOT based on what you have done; rather, it is based on to whom you belong.
The question is not what leadership style you use; rather it is what Leader you follow.
It is not the religion you hold; rather, it is who holds you – whose child you are. You can only be one of two: either God is your parent or the Devil is.
We are not all children of God. Only those choosing the Narrow Way are His. Jesus makes it clear that the Narrow Way is about an intimate relationship with God Himself – one that says you know God and He knows you – intimately.
The evidence of the intimacy? Obedience.
It is not what we say that matters most. It is even not what we do that matters most. It is who we have chosen to become a part of – we have realized our adoption as children of God and solely believe and trust in that relationship to save us from eternal separation with God. Those choosing the Narrow Way understand where they are going. Those ignoring the Narrow Way deceive themselves.