Billy Graham, Dictators, and Jesus (re-post)

A few years ago I wrote this article for Catalyst. In honor of Trevi’s birthday from a couple of days ago, I thought I would post it again. 🙂

My daughter Trevi will grow up to be the first female Billy Graham or a dictator of a small country. I’m convinced of this. She’s such a passionate and strong little person. When she was two years old she demanded the opportunity to choose her own clothes by pointing and screaming. She couldn’t talk, but she could accessorize.

When she was 4 years old, I asked her if she wanted to grow up to be the President of the United States. She responded: ‘Yes, I want to be on the dollar.’ She’s ambitious and vain – perhaps she will grow up to be a politician.

When my son Caleb was baptized after deciding to follow Jesus, I asked Trevi if she too would like to follow Him. She was still 4 years old at the time. With obvious annoyance at my question, she responded: ‘I already told Jesus I would be His leader.’

Uh oh. That’s not what I was really going for.

Perhaps she confused her words as little kids often do or perhaps she was more honest than the rest of us. Too often, we want Jesus in our life but not actually guiding us. We want Him with us wherever we go, but not as our leader.

When Jesus invited a motley crew of fisherman and tax collectors to follow Him, He said, ‘Come follow me, and I will take you into heaven!’

Wait, that’s not right. I think He actually said, ‘Come follow me, and I will meet your needs and protect you from the world!’

Actually that wasn’t it either. I have never been good with Scripture memory. I think He said, ‘Come follow me, and I will teach you great things in the Scriptures and answer your prayers.’
Maybe I should look it up.

Oh yeah, in Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, ‘Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’
Jesus invites us to be a part of loving, serving, and reaching other people. He is inviting us to be a part of changing the lives of others. He invites us into the greatest cause in history – helping others become the people God created them to be through a relationship with Jesus.

Jesus does not invite us to follow Him for what we can get, but He invites us to follow Him for what we can give!

As church leaders, too often we call the people in our churches to follow Jesus for the ‘benefits’ we might receive. We do this when we are inviting people into a relationship with Christ and even when we seek to recruit others to serve. Should it surprise us when people don’t get involved or even move from church to church, trying to find the one that best meets their needs? Even worse, should we be surprised when people walk away from this consumeristic version of Jesus altogether?

When we choose to follow Jesus for what He can give to us, we miss out on what He was actually inviting us to do! Jesus knew that if we lost our lives in serving others, through this journey we would truly find our life (Mt. 10:39).

I suppose we are all on a path towards either dictatorship or Billy Graham. We are torn between a life filled with selfishness and a life of selflessness. May we experience the beauty of a fully surrendered life with Jesus as our Leader while we invite others to do the same.

And by the way, would you please pray for my daughter? 🙂

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