“Can I tell you about what I’ve been doing in my school?” McKenzie asked me one night after I spoke at her youth group. She was quiet and unassuming, but I could tell she had a passion for Jesus and a story to share. She told me how she’d invited her entire class to a weekly Bible Study, and that a few dozen students were attending regularly. I was a little surprised because McKenzie was a very shy and quiet student; she was not the personality type most people would expect to fearlessly launch a movement and make a difference for the Gospel.
A few months later I contacted McKenzie and asked if we could document her story with a video, and if she would be willing to appear on stage with me at an event to tell the story in her own words. She declined. McKenzie said, “To be honest, I’m very shy and I don’t consider myself to be a leader. I’m not comfortable in front of large crowds, and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I just want to make a difference for Jesus amongst my friends and in my school.” I was disappointed with her response, but I wasn’t surprised; this was more in line with what most would expect from her personality type. McKenzie reveals an interesting juxtaposition for all of us who follow Jesus; we are not all called to be leaders, but we are all called to lead others to Christ.
In the church, we have too frequently conflated these separate concepts, and often to the detriment of the mission of God. The Apostle Paul wrote that some have the gift of leadership, but some have other gifts, such as serving or giving (see Romans 12:3-8). At the same time, all believers are called to lead others to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), and we can even receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). So we are not all leaders, but we are all to be leading our friends and acquaintances to Christ. McKenzie was a perfect working example of this seeming irreconcilable contradiction; she wasn’t a leader, yet she was leading many to the Cross through the Scriptures. She was making a difference for the Gospel, fulfilling the call placed upon all followers of Christ.
When we assume that only “leaders” can start a movement that will make a difference, or that only those in leadership can share the Gospel, we severely limit the scope and breadth of God’s mission. We also limit the further discipleship and effectiveness of all believers. Worst of all, we put the Holy Spirit in a box, as though the empowerment that is for all followers of Christ is only for a few. It’s time to reject this way of thinking. It’s time to embrace the truth that all believers are called to make a difference for the Gospel; that all can share their faith without fear; that each one can be used by God to shape history.
Join us for a brand new event designed to equip teenagers to make a difference for the Gospel. This is not an event for “leaders,” it’s an event for all believers! It’s Fearless: One Day to Make a Difference, a one-day conference happening in three locations: west, central, and east. Students will be inspired and empowered to serve their friends, talk about their faith, and make a difference without fear. For details and to register, go to www.fearlessoneday.com