When most people hear the name Nobel what comes to mind? The Nobel Peace Prize, right? Of course! Think about the profound, ongoing impact of that coveted award! But, that’s only the second half of the story.
You see, at the height of Alfred Nobel’s business success his older brother, Ludvig, died. By mistake a French newspaper printed an obituary for Alfred, saying, in essence, “Alfred Nobel passed away yesterday. He made his millions by creating weapons of mass destruction for the annihilation of mankind.” Nobel invented, manufactured, and distributed dynamite and other explosives. He did, indeed, make his money as the newspaper reported.
Seeing this in print was a slap in the face for Alfred. It was a wake-up call to reassess his life and to build a lasting legacy quite different from the one portrayed in his obituary.
We know the rest of his story. He took his money, time, and skills and spent the rest of his life investing in peace.
How about you? How are you living? Have you ever taken the time to assess the impact your life will have? Do you have a sense of destiny—that you were created to leave a positive and powerful legacy? What is holding you back? Perhaps fear? Indifference? Unbelief? Busyness?
I want to challenge you as a leader to step up. Life is short and fragile, and God is calling you to initiate leadership in your world, starting with yourself and moving out to all the relationships and influence you have.
Glow In The Dark
I believe one of the biggest and most encouraging movements in the Church today is the recognition that God is calling leaders to see themselves as Kingdom kings and queens. Just as God used priests and kings to do His work as we read in the Old Testament, I believe He is moving much of the Kingdom activity in our world into the lives of men and women already in leadership throughout our culture.
God is calling us to use our minds, our unique contacts, and our ability to strategize and think broadly (even globally) to simply get things done. These are gifts that are more often found in the marketplace than at our pulpits.
God wants you to leverage what He’s given you for the advancement of His Kingdom. That’s why you’re here.
Some time ago Bill Bright of Campus Crusade and I wrote a book we called Glow in the Dark. We felt that was a perfect mission statement for 21st century Christians, as it provides both the positive action and the recognition of the battle.
There is no doubt that darkness fills the earth. It touches every person and land, and grows more powerful the dimmer our light becomes. Jesus said that we’re the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He urges us to “let our light shine before men,” to take that light and penetrate the darkness with it.
Yes, there’s a battle out there, but it’s possible to have a hand in lighting the way in that darkness. It requires we acknowledge that there are two warring kingdoms in the spiritual realm—Satan’s kingdom of darkness and bondage, and God’s Kingdom of light and freedom. Darkness and light cannot co-exist. When the light comes in, the darkness departs. God’s design is that the darkness would be banished as His Kingdom of light expands—and His plan involves us as His front line soldiers.
A.W. Tozer put it well in his book This World: Playground or Battleground? when he contrasted the attitude of the early Americans with that of those in the middle to late 20th Century:
“In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force; and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other… Man, so our fathers held, had to choose sides; he could not be neutral. For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below… The Christian soldier… never forgot what kind of world he lived in. It was a battleground, and many were the wounded and the slain.”
Tozer goes on to the modern mindset, which certainly applies to us today:
“How different today: the fact remains the same but the interpretation has changed completely. Men think of the world, not as a battleground but as a playground. We are not here to fight, we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land, we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, we are already living, and the best we can do is to rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.”
Tozer may be overstating his case but he’s right to remind us that the world is the battleground of a spiritual war. If we are not even aware of the war, there is the danger of committing treason defined as, “violation of allegiance toward one’s sovereign or country; especially, the betrayal of one’s own country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.”
Now, most Christians are not consciously committing treason against God’s Kingdom; they wouldn’t think of it. But some are helping the enemy just the same, by refusing to acknowledge the war, and thereby allowing Satan to continue unchallenged.
Challenged or not, the battle is raging. And it’s time we join the ranks, time we shake off any lethargy, uncertainty, or fear. It’s not going away, this war, and while it is both defensive (battling our own sin, Satan, and the world system) and offensive (positively and winsomely impacting the culture on an ongoing and intentional basis), the outcome has already been decided. And we are the victors!
Now if you’re going to “glow in the dark” and step up as a Kingdom leader there are four requisites: think biblically, live righteously, love supernaturally, and penetrate strategically.
God provides everything you need for life and godliness through the power of the Holy Spirit and the written Word. Your job is to let God work in you “to will and do His good pleasure” and then, to work out your salvation “in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2).
In 2 Corinthians 10:1-7 Paul says that we’re to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” He is to rule your thoughts. How do you get there? By becoming a rigorous student of the Word. Memorize it, meditate upon it, and use it as your source of wisdom and decision-making.
The key to righteousness is to love God with your entire heart, mind, soul, and strength. You don’t debate whether you obey God or not, you simply do it. You don’t think about what you give up but what you gain. Following Jesus all-out results in living the most compelling, powerful, wise, engaging, loving, impactful, winsome, purposeful life possible.
It allows you to experience the words of Ephesians 2:10: “You are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Think about that. As you follow Jesus unreservedly, He makes your entire life a work of art, a symphony, abundant with joy, authentic success, and constant transformation “from glory to glory into God’s likeness” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This righteousness in you will lead to a hunger among those around you to have what you have. You’ll see that hunger in all your relationships. It’s also what the Bible says “exalts a nation.” But that righteousness starts with you and me.
Jesus says in John 17, “Father, I pray that they will love one another the way You love me and I love You. I pray that their love would be perfected in unity so that the world might know that You sent Me.”
George Bernard Shaw gave us this key to unity: “In the right key you can say anything; in the wrong key nothing. The only sensitive part of life is staying in the right key.”
Think about that. Are you in the right key with the people in your life?
This unity, this “oneness of spirit,” in our relationships is what Francis Schaeffer called “the ultimate apologetic” (proof) of the gospel.
God wants you to leverage what He’s given you for the advancement of His Kingdom. That’s why you’re here.
And what advances His Kingdom? The Great Commission, where we’re told to make disciples of all nations; the Great Commandment, where we’re told to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and love our neighbor as ourself; and the Cultural Mandate, where we’re told to subdue the earth and provide leadership in the culture.
God has put you here to be a steward of all that is given you and He wants you to manage and care for all that you have. That includes not just the personal and spiritual lives of people around you, but also your companies, communities, and other spheres of influence.
If we can teach people how to live full, rich, effective lives based on scriptural truths, of course transformation will happen.
So my challenge to you is to think deeply about how to leverage the skills, abilities, resources, platform, and relationships God has given you to impact your community, your vertical market, and your other associations, locally, nationally, and even internationally, in ways that strategically expand the Kingdom of God.
What Does This Look Like?
Two Men in Chicago
Cliff Parrish and Bob Clinkert are two very smart engineers in Chicago who built a company around telephone technology. They then decided to leverage their expertise, knowledge, and passions to do “business as mission,” leveraging what God had given them inside their own business to help change the world. And so these two men “adopted” a key leader in the Philippines and, as a team over the last 20 years, built eight churches, a school, and an orphanage for unwanted children pulled from the dumps.
They have also created several businesses that train and employ graduates of their school in order to generate income for themselves and the ministry.
And now they are taking godly principles of leadership and entrepreneurship into American prisons and seeing tangible, powerful life transformation in recidivist offenders who are personally changing by the power of God and His Word, and becoming spiritual leaders in prison and as they are released back into society.
The Women of Harmony
In 1999 I spoke at an event about a project called Rebuilding the Mental Infrastructure of the Nations. In the audience sat Olivia, a Ugandan businesswoman with a burden for her country. She and a group of her peers, called Harmony, had been praying for the spiritual and social health of Uganda for years.
My talk, which taught Proverbs-based life skills necessary for nations to succeed, caught Olivia’s attention. At great personal sacrifice of time and money, she and Harmony brought me to Uganda, set up events with national leaders, and organized seminars for believers and nonbelievers about building godly principles into the country. And she prayed and prayed and prayed.
Because of Olivia’s vision, I was given opportunities to keynote the National Leadership Summit, the National Prayer Breakfast, train most of the C-level leaders of the largest companies in the country, and mentor and coach multiple high end leaders in government, education, and other professions. That was just the beginning. Olivia and Harmony continued to mobilize high ranking leaders, setting up prayer breakfasts and strategy meetings with top government officials. They identified 50 leaders from all spheres and trained them in Proverbs-based leadership skills and, with coaches from a large Ugandan church, even trained 15,000 police officers in these life skills.
Affecting World Change
How did all of this happen? Because these two men, and this one woman with her friends, had a vision, trusted God to do “exceedingly abundantly beyond all they could think or believe,” and selflessly took the initiative to change our world. The results have been transformative. Why should this surprise us? If we can teach people how to live full, rich, effective lives based on scriptural truths, of course transformation will happen.
You can glow in the dark and mightily affect world change yourself. It may not be reaching a country but it can be your world. So start! Think big. God is a big God and He will bring transformation in and through you. You only need to say yes, and let Him lead you to unleash the masterpiece He created you to be.