“Unless we get hurt right out of every deception about ourselves, the word of God is not having its way with us” (Chambers, March 1st). Chamber’s point in this simple, one page devotional is that if we are fooled about ourselves then we are not really engaging the Word of God, because God will “hurt” out or burn out self-deception.
Leadership is such a critical element of life, particularly church life. Servant leadership is one of my personal core values. We need great servant leaders in the church to accomplish the mission given to us by Jesus Christ. But here’s the rub, those leaders cannot be self-deceived, because self-deceived leaders will always go in the wrong direction.
If you want to be a great leader, you have to know yourself well. You have to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and you have to be aware of your sin. The Word of God burns bright, if you hold it up in your own heart it will reveal the blemishes, stains, and damage of sin. Even more, the Word of God with the activity of the Spirit will repair, clean, and make righteous.
But this process cannot happen if you are not engaged with the Word. An essential element of being a great Christian leader is letting scripture reveal places where you are deceiving yourself, where you are wrong. As Chambers so eloquently pointed out, this is not going to be a painless process. If you go back and study the great Christian leaders, there is always some sort of painful encounter with the Word or several of them.
Look at Paul, his conversion happens and Jesus literally blinds him (Acts 9). Jesus removes a lot of self-deception from Paul’s heart and mind. He tells us about this later: “I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh…: circumcised on the eighth day… of the tribe of Benjamin… a Pharisee… a persecutor of the church… under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6, ESV).
Paul, the lead missionary of the New Testament church, is describing his self-deception in these verses. He formerly thought himself to be blameless, a zealous follower of God, and a lead member of his faith community, but his encounter with the Word removed his self-deception. If you would be a great leader, go to the Word of God. Let it peal away the self-deception so that you can lead yourself well and be the leader the church needs you to be.
Cited: Chambers, O. (1986). My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications.