From John 5:19, we see that everything in Jesus’s life and ministry came from His inward union with the Father. Let’s read John 5:19.
“The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
In this relationship between Jesus and His Father, we have a wonderful parallel with our own relationship with God. Let’s read from John Chapter 6. John 6:56-57.
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”
Jesus said that He lived by the life of His Father and that we are to live by His life in the same way that He lived by the life of His Father. Well, how did Jesus live by the life of His Father? By looking at Him. He was continuously toward Him, looking at Him, loving Him, receiving His love. He lived in continuous inward fellowship with His Father and everything in His life and ministry came out of the fellowship. Jesus said that our union with Him is to be the source of everything in our lives and ministries. That we’re to live by His indwelling life in the same way that He lived and ministered out of the indwelling life of His Father.
So, Jesus did not just tell us to be Christian leaders and then leave it up to us to define what that means. Jesus showed us here, very clearly, the source and the nature of true Christian leadership. It is union with God. Just as Jesus lived in continuous fellowship with His Father, so we too by His Holy Spirit are to live in continuous inward fellowship with Him. Just as Jesus ministered and lead out of this fellowship, entirely out of this fellowship, continuously and fully dependent on His Father, so we are to lead and minister the same way in complete dependent on our Father, living in inward union with Him.
In John 14, Jesus gave us a very wonderful promise of the living, abiding presence of God in our lives. Let’s read John 14:21-23.
“He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him.” And then He says, “My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
Here we have the promise of the Lord Jesus. He says that as we love Him, we will experience Him. We will know Him. Then, secondly, He says He will make His home with us. This means the continuing, the abiding presence of God in our lives, continuous fellowship with Him. This is the nature of the Christian life. This is the nature of Christian leadership. Let’s read from 1 John 1:3.
John says, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”
John tells us that just as he lived with the Lord Jesus and through the Lord Jesus he experienced the Father, he saw Him. He heard Him. He touched Him. So, we too, by the presence of the Spirit can see God. We can know God.
We experience this extraordinary fellowship with God by the presence of His Spirit in our lives. Let’s read a couple of verses in John 16. John 16:13-15.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He’ll guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He’ll speak only what He hears, and He’ll tell you what’s yet to come. He’ll bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That’s why I said the Spirit will take from what is Mine and make it known to you.”
Here we see that the Father gives Himself, all He is fully, to the Son of God, as the Son of God looks at Him. The Son of God then gives Himself fully to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit looks at Him with surrender and abandonment and self-giving love. Now, as we inwardly look at the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and by the Holy Spirit, we experience the Lord Jesus who fully reveals the Father. This is the nature of the Christian life. This is the meaning of Christian leadership. In your life you have the fullness of the presence of the triune Godhead. As you look at Him, as you love Him, as you listen to Him, as He reveals Himself to you, you are to live, to minister, and to lead out of His indwelling life.
As this fellowship with His Father was the source of all of Jesus’ life in ministry, so as you look at God His indwelling fellowship will be the source of everything in your life and ministry. Let’s read, please, from 2 Corinthians 3:18.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we’re being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
By His Spirit, inwardly, as we look at Him in our heart, as we see Him, as we touch Him, our lives are changed. They are changed more and more through the various processes of Christian growth and maturity. We become more and more in His image. Just as Jesus lived in the presence of His Father, depending upon His Father, loving Him, being loved by Him, and so revealed the presence and the person of the Father to man. As you live inwardly by the presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart, as you look at Him and love Him and receive His love and receive His presence, so you more and more, will reveal, not just your own strength and wisdom to the world, but Him. His character, His glory, His beauty.
This is the simple nature of the Christian life and of Christian leadership. Living and leading out of Jesus’ indwelling life. This is the source of all true Christian ministry. The presence of God, union with Christ. Let’s read please from John 15. John 15:5.
“If a man abides in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
If a man abides in Me the same way that he was abiding in his Father, looking at his Father, loving Him, being loved by Him, we are to abide in the Lord Jesus the same way, looking at Him inwardly, loving Him, receiving His love and as we do that, Jesus says we will bear much fruit. Apart from this inward union with Christ, you can do nothing. If the Lord Jesus Himself could do nothing of any value, how much can we do? Fellowship is connection. It is through inward fellowship with God that we connect with Him, with His life. It’s through fellowship with Him that He reveals His gifts, His works, His wisdom, His truth, His power through us. It’s through our inward union with Him that His life is revealed in our ministries. Jesus said we are to eat of Him, to partake of Him. We’re to dwell in Him and He in us. He actually invites us to enter into this great eternal experience of fellowship within the Godhead. What an incredible privilege. What a power to change your life and through your life in ministry, to change the lives of those you serve. Let’s read John 17:3.
“This is eternal life.” This is the Christian life. This is Christian leadership. “That they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”
This is the Christian life. This is true spiritual ministry. This is Christian headship. Christian leadership is only found in the person, in the life of the Lord Jesus. True leadership is not found anywhere else. It’s not found in our own strength, in our own wisdom. It’s not found in the latest theories and the latest methods and techniques. It’s found in Him, only in Him. Apart from Him, apart from union with Him, you can do nothing of any value. Apart from Him, it is all worthless. Apart from union with Him, it’s wood, hay, and stubble. Apart from continuous inward dependency upon Him, it is all filthy rags. True leadership is the Lord Jesus in you.
True headship begins with the Lord Jesus. He Himself is the foundation of your life. He Himself is the meaning of your life and your ministry, your leadership. All of your life in ministry must proceed from a daily experiential inward union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the vine. We’re the branches. Our connection with Him is inward fellowship with Him. This is your first and last priority as a Christian leader. God has not called you to be so busy with doing ministry stuff that you’re too busy for Him, for nurturing your inward life in Him. This is the meaning of Christian leadership. The first revelation of true ministry is the person of the Lord Jesus. We should not have any vision other than Him. His centrality, His preeminence, His beauty, His glory revealed. The person of the Lord Jesus is the foundation of all true Christian ministry. It’s not merely facts about Him or some theory about Him, but your inward living daily union with Him.
The Father is very jealous for the glory of His Son. He will not allow there to be any other foundation, any other vision for your life, for your ministry, for your leadership, other than Him. He is the center. He is the beginning and the end. He is the preeminent One, the glorious One, the Alpha and the Omega. He is everything. He is your life. This is the nature, the source, the meaning of Christian leadership.
When a leader builds his life and his ministry on this union with Christ, just as Jesus built His life in ministry on His union with His Father, His eternal union with His Father, when we do that, everything changes. When we do that, we will transform the nations.