Healthy Leaders



Nick FranksNick Franks

I’m currently seated at a work bench in Starbucks looking out onto one of the busiest streets in Scotland. It’s the beginning of another day and the footfall must be near to 1k for every single minute that passes.

I can see Harris Tweed and denim, pyroclastic vape columns, queues outside bakeries and homeless guys sleeping on wet mattresses. The range of humanity is beautiful and, often, tragic.

It was a similarly frenetic vista last week as I hurtled out of Glasgow Queen Street train station when I almost literally stumbled into the most tragic interlude in humanity that I think it’s possible to encounter: young people wanting to witness to a jesus that doesn’t exist.

Witnessing Like Paul

I think it was because the two Jehovah’s Witnesses were in their twenties that my attention was arrested ‒ two young people in the prime of their lives passively standing by a stand in the hope of earning a get-out-of-jail card to secure their eternal real estate. But they were being led like a lamb to the slaughter by a species of deceit that distresses our hearts who have seen “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

I know that too often I have walked past Jehovah’s Witnesses with a mild irritation rather than the gut-wrenched tears that Paul often wrote, preached and prayed through (Phil. 3:18).

So I stopped to chat. I only had five minutes before a meeting started that I needed to be at so I had to be prepared for inconvenience. (After all, the meeting I was going to was with someone who knows the real Jesus).

The first thing I said after greeting the two young people was that Jesus was my life. They replied in kind. Awkward. We exchanged comments about our respective faiths and the senior of the two (the other was being trained up to also know jesus) needed me to know that the Trinity was madness and that the Bible was spurious. More awkward.

The Awesome in the Awkward

The main reason that things were getting awkward is because there was part of me that was irritated and up for a fight. How dare they talk about Jesus like that?! But, of course, a few verses earlier, the Bible says,

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

The conflict between the flesh and Spirit was definitely occurring on multiple levels in this moment. The nonchalant air from the guys I was speaking to appealed to my flesh ‒ I wanted to prove them wrong! But my spirit that Jesus has made alive felt the weight of tragedy.

So, I knew that I needed, somehow, to introduce the real Jesus to them, not argue about the Trinity or the Bible. I had five minutes after all. So, I told them that if you try to understand everything, including the Trinity, you will never understand. How can one hope to logically “work out God and then be in awe of Him?” John Chrysostom puts it better:

A comprehended god is no god.

The sheer awesomeness of Jesus Christ, the living Lamb that was slain, is not to be worked out. We are not to approach Him with tick boxes that need satisfying or conditions that must be met. A jesus that can be comprehended is not Jesus at all.

Two Leadership Tools for the Streets

This brief, street-pastoring encounter taught me two things that I want to be at the spearhead of my leadership:

When you next encounter someone who is proclaiming a false christ, or someone who announces their belief in no Christ at all, have the confidence of your convictions to ‒ instead of arguing or debating ‒ lead in prayer and in spiritual authority. Then, in a moment of faith, trust that the living, breathing, all-consuming Jesus Christ will emerge in the moment to lovingly confound every spirit of darkness.

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Nick Franks