As the team at RaiseUpFaith prepares to attend MegaCon, a Kids Ministry conference in Nashville this October, we are focusing on their theme, Jesus Period. Not Jesus and, or Jesus but; Jesus period. This idea has a way of refining how we think about what we do, and centering us on our why: Jesus. Jesus is our what, our why, our who, and He knows our how and our when.
So what does it look like to keep Jesus at the centre of all that we do? What does it shift about who we are and how others experience our leadership? In this 3-part series, we will define what it means to be Jesus-centered, who I am because of who He is, and how centering on Him plays out in our ministries and our lives.
I recently had the privilege of hanging out with some Jesus nerds (their words, not mine, but it feels right, so I’m keeping it) at Jesus Collective and we brainstormed what it means to be a Jesus-centered leader. After two and a half hours, we had organized our many thoughts and theologies into a few columns with particularly strong headings, and we went away to pray and dream and think some more for a week. The following week we unpacked what holds us back from this type of leadership. Oof.
What does it mean to do life with Jesus at the center, not simply do things in His name? What are the attributes, qualities, and noteworthy traits of a Jesus-centered leader that have shaped the way you lead? What is it about them that has influenced your posture, your mindset, your goals, your path? What would you name as the habit that keeps you centered on the King? What does it mean to center ourselves on Jesus? Here are a few of the first ideas we came up with to get you started: others-centered, servant, humble, creative, curious, peacemaker, collaborative, gives power away…
I think we can condition ourselves (and others) to believe that discipleship in the ways of Jesus is a daily to-do list rather than a process of becoming: do devotions, pray, say grace, speak blessings, read your bible… And these would all fit into a number of characteristics that us Jesus nerds named on that summer afternoon–because they are good and right and true of how we are meant to live. But I have come to understand that keeping Jesus at the center as a leader is less about what I do, and more about who I am.
If we look at the definition of being “centered,” Oxford Learners Dictionary tells us this simply means “having the thing mentioned as the most important feature or centre of attention.” But what’s more interesting are the synonyms for centered: “riveted, pointed, concentrated, focalized, pivoted, meant, focused, converged, collected, clustered and met” (thesaurus.yourdictionary.com). Centering oneself suggests that all roads lead to one point. And for us, everything we do, and everything we are, are meant to point to Jesus. Not Jesus and, not Jesus plus, not just but. Jesus, period. I am convinced that this is what the author of Hebrews meant when he tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2): Jesus is enough. The centering of a very good God and a very good gospel wrapped up in a very good Jesus is more than a focus; it’s how we were made to live.
The gift within God’s plan to redeem His kids back to Himself, the Church–the body of Christ–is that we get glimpses of what God is like by showing up for each other, looking like Jesus. And while the world would have our kids (and us–let’s not kid ourselves) believe that uniqueness is our superpower, I’m not sure we can access that “I’m special” thumbprint without Jesus. Through Jesus, God’s own image knit into us is put on full display for the world to know Him. His image is light. His image is salt. His image is creative and multifaceted, like a diamond that catches the sunlight in front of a mirror. And His image is in you. The more you look like Jesus, the more you become who you were made to be. Period.
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