I first learned how to swim out of a desperate need. Imagine a scene in a movie where flash floods and tsunami sweep the entire city and people are in desperate need for survival… It is very scary. Same feeling I had when I first learned how to swim… It was flooding in all of Metro Manila, and for someone who grew in a town close to the City of Malabon, a city in Metro Manila near the bay, and is known for sea foods, sea-side view, and sea-like flood during rainy season, it is quite impossible not to embrace the lifestyle of swimming, and yes, swimming in a 6ft flood for survival. I was a kid when I was ‘tasked’ to buy food for the family and since all the streets were flooded, I was ‘volunteered’ to cross few streets to get something for the family to survive. It was successful… and yucky at the same time. But what was rewarding is the confidence I gained that at an early age, I did something worth a story.
Because I grew up far from my biological family, confidence is something I would always struggle with and fall short of, but that moment made a waterline in me, a stain, like that of a ship, that marks something. The mark of the waters led me to a life of taking risks.
I also knew of a story of two people who had a “waterline” moment. Brothers who gained a certain level of confidence. People who, in the middle of the waters, had a defining moment in their lives:
In Mark 1:16-18…
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
It was indeed a moment that changed their lives. From being ordinary fishermen, they suddenly gained the confidence to “fish for men”… to lead people to Christ. The only difference is that it is not the waters that gained them the confidence, nor the situation, but a person. Jesus, Himself, called them out and “Sends them out to fish for people.” In Another account (Matthew 4) It is said, Jesus… “Makes them fishers of men.” It is the Lord’s business to make us who we should be. It was the Lord who made them lead people. That encounter gives them the confidence to lead.
Fast forward today, Jesus is still in the business of calling people to lead. Leading people to their rightful place and position is God’s making in us. In our local church, I appreciate people deliberately casting the vision that “one day I will lead”. I admire all the hard work of those who has gone ahead of us just to prepare us, equip and empower us to lead. But apart from an understanding that Jesus called us to lead other people to Him, all the trainings and vision casting can only go so far. And understanding God’s call to lead also comes with a price, a willingness to open one’s life to others, a willingness to make time to help someone and walk him through the calling and promise God has for him. And a willingness to allow God to change your life and ways, so you can be a ‘witness’ whose life is a convincing testimony of what God can do to others as well.
In my journey of discovering the call to LEAD people, there are two WATERLINE lessons that I learned to embraced:
Many can become leaders, but it is character that defines one’s leadership. In the church, I learned that leadership is not just the ability to influence other people, but also the ability to live a life of Integrity… to live out the lessons we teach daily. Pastor Cj Nunag emphasized that early on in my journey in the faith. He would deal with the important issues and ask the hard questions. I appreciate growing in Character as he himself exemplified in my life.
Leading as a team is something I learned from Pastor Joseph Bonifacio. It is easy to lead alone. You don’t need to consider anyone, worry about anything, nor align and deal with other people’s opinions. But a great leader is someone who considers other “Better than himself.” (Philippians 2:3). Pride can easily creep in as one leads, and I have always been dealing with that. The temptation to think that you always have the better idea, or the insecurity that someone else’s idea is heard more than yours. But leadership is not who’s got a better idea or opinion. It’s about the willingness to work and lead as a team. To trust that your teammates are also people who can hear from God and whose intentions are good. To accept that you do not have the monopoly of all the great ideas in the world. Humility is essential in leadership. Appreciating others for what God has gifted them with and contributing to the progress of the team, even if you only play a tiny part. In Victory, I appreciate the people I work with. From the Victory Malate Staff, who I have been working for six years now, as God continues to add to our family each year, down to the LifeBox National Office who has been my other family for three years now.
Leading people requires courage. As Andy Stanley puts it in his book Next Generation Leader, Courage establishes leadership. Leaders paint a picture of a preferred future and ask people to follow them there. We’re asking people to follow us to a place we ourselves are still journeying in. And in the journey of leading people to christ, fear is always the enemy. We learn to bike, swim, drive, etc by facing fears. If you don’t conquer fears, you will miss some great things in life. I am glad I learned to swim even in flood water. Even in leading people to Christ, we will face fear. Fear of thinking If we are good enough, adequate enough, teaching enough, guiding them enough, giving the right advice or praying for them enough. But the confidence we have in leading people is that the Holy Spirit will guide and help us. Jesus promised the Counselor, the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:26 / Acts 1:8). It is comforting to know that we can have the courage to lead people to Jesus as we, ourselves, are still in the process of growing and maturing as well, because it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not our abilities.
As we celebrate 30 years of God’s faithfulness in our movement, let us thank the Lord for the privilege to be used of Him in leading people to Christ. We may not deserve to take part in it, but out of His love, he allowed sinners like us to partake of this great opportunity to co-labor with Him in reaching many more people for Jesus.