Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.” – Luke 9:46-48
In the book of Proverbs, the importance of wisdom is highlighted over and over again. There are those who embrace it and become wise, and then there are those who spurn it and become fools. Proverbs then goes ahead and paints a picture of what makes them different. One key difference that is repeated throughout the book is in how they receive correction. Simply put, a wise person will love you if you rebuke him, whereas a foolish person will hate you.
Throughout the years of ministry, I have met tremendously talented and gifted leaders, yet what set the good leaders apart from the great ones had little to do with their ability, but their teachability. They are teachable and humble enough to receive. One way character is revealed is how you handle discipline and rebuke… even if it seems unwarranted! Character will take you further than your potential. A generation rescued from suffering and spared from discipline becomes entitled rather than empowered. We actually endanger them rather than encourage them if we do that.Your teachability will take you further than your ability. Click To Tweet
In the passage above from Luke, the disciples are arguing on which of them is the greatest. By now they have seen miracles after miracles, and are starting to dig themselves too much. That’s when Jesus comes and tells them that the greatest is the one who receives a little child. It’s one thing to receive correction or instruction or teaching from Jesus, but it’s entirely different to receive those things from just a kid. Who is willing to humble themselves to learn from a kid, right? Yet that’s what defines a person’s greatness – their ability to receive.
I believe there are three types of people when it comes to receiving. The first type is a person who refuses to receive any correction, rebuke, or discipline. They live in rebellion to authority and are only guided by their own feelings and judgments. The second person is one who can receive all those things, but only from a leader they respect and agree with. Other than that, there is no room to receive. The third type is one who can receive from anyone. If an internationally renown leader came and pointed out things that I needed to work on, I would listen wholeheartedly and even take notes. Yet can I receive the same exact pointers from someone who is younger than me? Not as experienced as me? Not as mature as me as a Christian? The list can go on and on as to why I “should’t” listen to “certain people”. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a reason why universities hire Ph.D’s and not kindergartners, and also there is a need for discernment as well. We probably shouldn’t take to heart everything people tell us, but can you still humbly hear them out without offense? Bill Johnson says, “God will often put the thing we need in a package that offends us.” Why? To see the humility of our hearts. To those who are humble and hungry, even what is bitter tastes sweet (Proverbs 27:7).God will often put the thing we need in a package that offends us. - Bill Johnson Click To Tweet
To grow as leaders and to go deeper with Jesus, the truth is we can’t do it alone. We need the humility to receive even from children, and one way we grow in our ability receive is when we have spiritual fathers and mothers to whom we are submitted. In today’s culture the word “submission” is frowned upon. Many have even experienced spiritual abuse because of hurtful teachings and applications on what that means. Yet true submission is coming under for the purpose of being lifted up. A son submits to his father so that the father can lift his son higher than he is himself. Higher than he can go on his own. It is like the parable of the kite. A high flying kite wanted to go even higher, yet was frustrated that it was being held back by the string. Finally the kite decided it could no longer be kept from reaching its greatest potential so it cut loose from the string only to realize that it was the string that allowed it to soar in the first place.
Therefore submission gives permission to those leaders to speak into our lives, we are accountable to them, and are willing to receive discipline from them as well. It’s easy to receive from only trusted leaders or big-time leaders with big platforms especially with social media today. Yet the issue Paul faced with the church in Corinth exists today. Though we have many teachers, heroes, and the like, who are the fathers who have personal access and permission to directly speak into our lives? The truth is we only have authority when we are submitted to authority.
In my own journey, I have been rebuked, corrected, and disciplined too many times to count! Sometimes I deserved it, and honestly sometimes I felt like I didn’t. Sometimes I felt tempted to be offended, sometimes it hurt, and sometimes it just hurt a lot. Yet I’ve been thankful for those moments every time for those are the ones what have shaped me into who I am. I am thankful that I had leaders, mentors, and spiritual fathers and mothers who loved me enough to correct me, rebuke me, and discipline me. They told me things I didn’t want to hear and things I even disagreed with, and I love them for that. Be thankful for those who love you enough to tell you the truth… truth that might even hurt. And remember at the end of the day, more than what they say, it’s how you receive that speaks volumes of who you are and your greatness.
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” – Proverbs 27:6