3 Leadership Lessons about Carrying Your Cross

3 Leadership Lessons about Carrying your Cross

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

   28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

   31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

   34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

   “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”  Luke 14:25-34 NIV

“1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.”  Luke 15:1 NIV 

I have heard this verse spoken of and preached about many times.  It is a time in Jesus ministry when calls His followers to take up their cross and to follow Him.  He challenges His people to pay the price to be true disciples and not simply distant dabblers in the faith.  He challenges Christians to move from being consumer Christians to committed followers.  He does not want them to be fans, but followers.  He gives them three important lessons on leadership and discipleship. 

1.  You must carry your own cross. 

 

While His sacrifice on the cross covers the price for our salvation, to grow in discipleship, each believer must carry his or her own cross.  Jesus doesn’t do that for you.  God doesn’t do it for you.  Jesus pays the price for my salvation. I pay the price for my discipleship. 

In Jesus’ day, the cross was not a religious symbol nor was it associated with being a Christian.  It was associated with a harsh brutal death, torture, and punishment.  One who endured the cross, did not survive.  They didn’t walk away inspired.  They didn’t walk away at all.  The picture of the cross is the picture of a person walking down death row and carrying the electric chair on his back.  Once one was carrying his cross, there was no turning back.  It was a total and complete commitment.  There was no consideration of turning back because when one carried his cross, his life was not his own anymore.

This thought of carrying one’s cross is what Jesus compares being a disciple.  No looking back.  No turning back.  He called for total commitment. He said that if I follow Him, my life no longer belongs to me.  I must not make the mistake of being more influenced by what Christian logo I follow, and less inspired logos of God! 

2.  Count the cost.

 

Jesus goes on to talk about sitting down and counting the cost before committing to be a disciple.  If you are going to build a building, He asks, can you afford to build it?  If a king is about to go to war, Jesus asks, can he afford to fund the war?  In the same way, He challenges the crowds around Him.  Can you afford to refuse the demands of following God?  Can you afford to live your life without God for an eternity?  “Don’t be a half-hearted follower,” Jesus says.  “You need to be ALL IN!”    

3.  Don’t water down the message! 

After these sobering and VERY challenging words of Jesus, an awesome thing happens. As Luke 14 ends chapter 15 begins, Jesus gives an audacious, radical, and crazy challenging word to the crowd, the scripture says that people still gathered and drew near!

“1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.”  Luke 15:1 NIV 

This passage shows me that if the truth is spoken in love, people DO respond to a challenging Gospel!  People are willing to pay the price.  People back then, like people today, don’t want a watered down version of God’s truth.  They want it all.  They wanted know the truth of God’s word and they were willing to be challenged to live out the life of a true disciple, and leave the life of being a distant dabbler in the faith! 

The demands of discipleship did not need to be watered down in order for people to follow.  God’s people rose to the challenge back then, and they will today!  When I have the opportunity to share God’s Word, I must be a teacher who challenges and pushes God’s people to step up to carry their crosses, while at the same time, be willing to bear my own without looking back.

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