One of the highlights of Catalyst for me was Chuck Swindoll’s message on Friday. I have been an appreciate follower of his as a pastor, author, leader at Dallas Theological Seminary and speaker on his radio show Insight for Living. One of my favorite, all-time books is his Grace Awakening.
He is one of those “elder statesmen” of the church that makes me pause and listen to what he says. He is consistently faithful to the biblical text while at the same time remaining eminently practical to applying its truth to life.
At Catalyst, he was presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award. It was a fitting honor for a humble leader.
The following are notes from his message to the crowd of 12K energetic, young (at heart) church planters, leaders and supposed innovators.
He began with a quote from Alan Redpath: “If God wants to do an impossible task, he will take an impossible person and crush them.” Swindoll echoed this by saying, “In all your dreams and enthusiasm, just leave room in your life for the crushing.”
This certainly hit home with me, and for the rest of his presentation, I was glued on his every word. He spoke with gracious humility mixed with apostolic authority.
10 things you need to know about leadership
- It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions.
- It’s dangerous to succeed – especially young in life. He said, “It’s rare for God to bring young men into vast areas of leadership.” If you’re under 30 and have experienced success in the church or ministry leadership, beware.
- It’s hardest at home. That’s where the real you lives. No pretending there. Are you at your best at home, or does your family get leftovers? No one is applauding you at home saying, “Wow, Dad, you’re incredible!”
- It’s essential to be real.
- It’s painful to obey.
- Brokenness and failure are necessary.
Malcom Muggeridge says, “I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo, as Aldous Huxley envisaged in Brave New World, the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too banal and trivial to be endurable. This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.”
- My attitude is more important then my actions. Swindoll said, “Some of you are getting hard to be around!”
- Integrity eclipses image. What you’re doing is not a show!
- God’s way is always better then my way. Our problem is that we’re too capable and can accomplish so much in the flesh. God cannot pour all of His riches into hands that are already full.
- Christ-likeness begins and ends with humility.
Swindoll’s text was 2 Corinthians 4:5-7:
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
The foundational principle he drew from this was: We should be willing to leave the familiar methods without disturbing the biblical message.
He went on to describe the difference between traditionalism and tradition:
- Traditionalism: the dead faith of those still living
- Tradition: living faith of those now dead
He made three important observations about the text:
1. With every ministry, a special mercy is needed.
2. In every ministry the same things must be renounced and rejected
- Hiding shameful things
- Doing deceitful things
- Corrupting truthful things
3. Through every ministry, a unique style should be pursued.
- We don’t need to promote ourselves.
- We declare Christ Jesus as Lord.
- We see ourselves as bondservants of Jesus Christ.
- We never forget what we are… And who He is.
He concluded his ministry to us at Catalyst with “5 statements for your next 50 years in ministry:”
- Whatever you do, do more with others and less alone.
- Emphasize quality not quantity.
- Wherever you go, do it the same as if you were among those who know you. (It will keep you from exaggerating.)
- Whoever may respond, keep a level head (whether you’re worshiped or crucified).
- However long you lead, keep on dripping with gratitude and grace.
Note: Thanks to Tim Schraeder for allowing me to use the above graphic.