The past 10 years at Watermark have afforded me the opportunity to hear quite a few church leaders talk through the best practices they’ve learned along the way. Our staff has brought in leaders like Tommy Nelson, Chuck Swindoll, Gary Haugen, and others. I’ve listened intently as these men have shared their most valuable insights. What came out was consistent: it was Scripture. These men bled Bible when they shared wisdom.
I’ve also been able to watch great leaders navigate difficult situations. A week ago Sunday was an opportunity that stood out to me above others. Todd Wagner, a man who has played an enormous role in my spiritual growth, was supposed to have that Sunday off. However, Todd changed his plans to spend just a few minutes on stage addressing the recent ruling by the Supreme Court on same sex marriages in America. This is what leaders do. They address the issues of the times with truth. Below is much of what he shared on what we, as Christ followers, should do now.
On where we should start:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
– Matthew 7:3-5
“I want to draw a circle right here around me and I want to change everything in it; I want to be more in step with Your (God’s) will and way.”
On why we shouldn’t be surprised:
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
– Proverbs 29:18
“When they have no vision for a God who is good, and loving, and true, the people will be unrestrained. And there is no limit to the ways that they will go to try and find life and satisfaction. Father, help me do a better case of talking about how good Your will and way is. That the commandments of the Lord are not burdensome, and happy is he who keeps the law.”
On how to engage with others:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
– Galatians 6:1-2
“Remember that you yourself at times need to be admonished and corrected and encouraged, and so go to people in a way that you yourself want to be admonished, corrected, and encouraged.”
On how we fulfill the law of Christ:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
“In everything you are doing, you (should be) motivated by love to seek the welfare of the city that you are in—not self-righteousness; that’s not looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted—but because you really love people, and by the grace and kindness of God you have come to see that God’s way is good.
“How do you respond? You don’t respond cynically, and you don’t respond by syncing up. You don’t throw rainbows all over your social media page… “Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.” That’s why you should never put a rainbow on your car, or try and sync up with others who are running away from God. It’s not loving to rejoice in that.”
On standing firm:
But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.
– Jeremiah 1:17-19
“These are great days to be alive, because God has been very specific and very clear with what He wants us to do, and now is our chance to do it…
“Speak. Speak boldly. And when you speak, don’t speak with the anger of man, for that does not accomplish the righteousness of God.”
On sharing the gospel:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
– Romans 1:16
“You share with your friends about the goodness and kindness of God. You tell them that God loves sinners like you, and sinners like them.”
When addressing an important issue in our country, he didn’t share his original thoughts or opinions. He shared God’s. As Wagner himself put it, “I haven’t said very much Todd; that’s a lot of God’s Word.” And much of the above verses (and a few others he shared) were shared from memory; they were written on his heart and ready to spill out for such a time as this.
The Lord’s foolishness is wiser than our own wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25). Wise, godly leaders lead with Scripture.
(With quotes from Todd Wagner, and help from Kevin McConaghy.)