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Course: Leading Healthy Church Culture
Lecture 14: Discussion of Luke 5:1-11
A. Luke 5:1-11:
As a way of getting into the discussion, I want to look at what has become a very special passage to me as I think about Jesus’ leadership in this motif. It involves what we call the four pillars of a Christ centered leadership: about relationship, about influence, about follower potential and about common purpose.
One day as the crowd was pressing in on him to listen to God’s word, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats lying on the shore, but the fishermen had stepped out of them and were washing their nets. So Jesus got into one of the boats (the one that belonged to Simon) and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and began to teach the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he told Simon, ‘Push out into deep water, and lower your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, “Master, we have worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll lower the nets.” After the men had done this, they caught so many fish that the nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats until the boats began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord! I am a sinful man!” because Simon and all the people who were with him were amazed at the number of fish they had caught, and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons and Simon’s partners. Then Jesus told Simon, “Stop being afraid. From now on you will be catching people.” So when they brought the boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.
This is an incredible account of Jesus’ calling of his first disciples. After he finished his teaching, Jesus said to Simon, go out from the shore where the deep water is and let your net down again. They had worked all night without catching very much. Time after time they had thrown their nets into the black dark water and held the ropes as their net sank. All night, they waited for a tug from the fish to signal them to haul in their net, but it didn’t happen. There were still no fish by morning. So they had loaned their boat to Jesus for a teaching session as Simon was preparing to go home. He was tired because of fishing all night. Jesus engaged him to push out and let the net down one more time. If we could read between the lines, Simon may have thought what I would have thought, ‘what do you think we have been doing all night?’ We have let this net down dozens if not hundreds of time. My back aches, my hands are blistered; Rabbi, I see you mean well and you are a good preacher and I’m happy to loan you my boat for the sermon. Why do preachers think they know everything; regardless of what Simon was thinking, he did as Jesus had ask. He could have told Jesus simply no because as fishermen, they knew how to fish; Jesus wasn’t a fisherman. But Simon let the net down and the net was filled with fish. To lead people, leaders understand people’s needs. They discover those needs by related to them. Jesus first demonstrated his concern for Simon the fisherman. Now when Simon recognized the power of Jesus who was in the boat with him, what did he do?
B. Recognizing Holiness
From the audience: Simon recognized holiness, righteous and perhaps even deity and realized that he was such a sinner that he had no right to be in such a person’s presence. Maybe we should go into business together; Jesus and Simon incorporated; what do you think? That would have been my first reaction, but instead Peter immediately fell to his knees and said, ‘Lord, go away from me for I am a sinful man.’ Although Simon had an accurate view of himself, for this was a true statement; it could never have been such a true statement, particularly since he was face to face with the Son of the Almighty God. Jesus saw Simon, however, as a follower of great worth and priceless potential. And to enlist people in a vision, Jesus shows us that leaders see the potential in others and enable them to see the possibilities within themselves. So, he said to Simon, you are only going to catch fish; I am going to give you a dream beyond imagination; you are going to catch men and Jesus led him into a future. A person by the name of Max Dupree; he is one of my favourite leaders. He told a story of his granddaughter who was born with special challenges. One day, his granddaughter came to see him and said, ‘grandpa, would you like to see me run?’ She was about three years old at this time. Dupree said that his heart jumped; I thought to myself, this girl can hardly walk. How is she going to run? Like good grandparents, Dupree said, ‘yes, I would like to see you run.’ So, she walked over to one side of the room and started to run across the room, right across in front of his desk and directly into the side of the refrigerator. It knocked her on her back and there she lay on the floor with a big grin on her face. Dupree said to her, ‘honey, you have got to learn to stop.’ She looked up with a big smile, ‘yeah, but grandpa, I’m learning to run.’ This is human potential with a dream more than you or I can imagine, but that potential is also very fragile and in that moment, Simon was fragile as well.
C. Be a Fisher of Men
Some years ago, I was invited to speak in a very small church which I often do and I like doing that. The custom of that church was to have the speaker in the pastor’s home for lunch after the service. We sat down at the table and I could tell that this lunch was different than the usual lunch. They had out special plates with the folded napkins, etc. I saw also that the three children were told to keep quiet and not do anything that would embarrass them while the guess preacher was there. I remember particularly the older boy, he was a tall lanky kid and I remember him because he had cerebral palsy. After a bit of silence I said to him, ‘Allen, what subjects do you like in high school?’ With a smile, he replied, ‘algebra.’ For myself, I love algebra. Well, what do you want to do after you graduate from high school? With some hesitation, he responded, ‘someday, I would kind of like to be a math teacher.’ I continued, ‘so, where would you like to go to college?’ His father then interrupted and said, ‘Allen isn’t going to college. He is handicapped. He can’t go to college. ’I could see the hope drain away from that boy that very moment.’ What leaders really believe about people becomes evident. Jesus knew that ordinary people make great disciples and so he said to Simon, ‘don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’
What a dream! You have been catching fish and now you will catch people and like all effective leaders, Jesus communicated with a familiar image that Simon understood vividly with his mind’s eye. He described what the results would look like, even before they started the project. So, when Jesus called Simon to fish for men, Luke recorded that they pulled up their boats and left everything and followed Jesus. Now, was it because Jesus had positional authority, positional power over them or was it because he was the big boss? No, he had no positional earthly authority at all. Effective leaders seldom command, they most often inspire. As inspired with Simon catching men, Jesus’ purpose became Simon’s purpose also. It says that Simon left. People purposely sacrifice when they have embraced the Kingdom of God. I find this to be an absolutely phenomenal story that captures these pillars in an amazing way. Not because these pillars are so critical, but because Jesus so demonstrated these things over and over again during his earthly ministry.
So what strikes you about this approach to leadership? A person from the audience: there are certain people that you trust and you are excited to be around; you want to follow them, not because of any particular authority they have over you. It is because of the relational clout that they have. This leadership approach is very other oriented, not self-oriented; not command and control which relates to the fragile nature of the human thinking. We forget this in any kind of management role.
D. Know That You Have Potential
I was sitting with a former colleague just a few weeks ago in a restaurant; we were just talking. He has been battling with some sickness and struggles in his career. I just stated to him, Steve, you need to get yourself well because there is a lot more that God has for you to do. He then began to cry uncontrollably, openly in front of everyone. He needed those words, that sense of hope, that sense of potential. He was in a very oppressive environment and he isn’t hearing those words of potential that reside within him. They were just simple words, yet they created a response that he was holding back. So, it is real among us.
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