Session 1: Talking to the disciples, His future church leaders, Jesus said in John 15:16: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you…”
The lives of these disciples perfectly intersected with the Master. Jesus called these future church leaders. Jesus Himself chose them. Yet, not all of them found lasting fulfillment.
I think there are church leaders even today struggling to find lasting fulfillment. I just wonder what the cause of that might be.
When I was growing up, virtually every Sunday afternoon between church services a bunch of us guys would go to Alexandria Senior High School to play football. I had a little personal dilemma. At that time, I was usually one of the younger guys in the group. In addition to that, I was small in stature. However, I was a fast little guy. That’s about the only thing I had going for me in those days. Here’s the problem, though. Before we would start playing, two team captains would be chosen, then they would choose their team members. The team captains would take turns picking the players they wanted. The problem is, obviously, when you’re playing football, no one really wants the young, little guy.
Inside, I was thinking, “Look, if you don’t choose me first, you’re making a BIG mistake! I’m really, REALLY fast. Those boys may be bigger, but if you’ll just choose me, I’ll show you dynamite comes in small packages!” (At least that’s what my dad used to tell me to try to make me feel better about my size.) Of course, I would never be picked first. What would bring me great joy was just not to be the LAST person chosen. If I wasn’t the last person, I was at least better than whoever was the last person.
It really feels good when you’re chosen. Even today, it really feels good when I’m chosen for something. Here’s the deal, though. If I’m chosen for something, even in a Sunday afternoon football game, it then becomes super important to actually show up. It becomes super important to produce, to be fruitful within the position I’ve been given or the task for which I was chosen.
In John 15:16, we’re given a sacred task. We have been called. You and I have been chosen for this special sacred task. The last part of that scripture says we were chosen to go unto the world and add to the Kingdom of God - to make disciples - to be fruitful in the Kingdom of God.
It’s not enough to be called…
it’s not even enough to be chosen…
The scripture says that we must go and bring forth fruit.
In this verse, it is evident the disciples were chosen by Jesus. These future church leaders had a choice at this point. They were absolutely called and chosen. Yet, that fact - that they were called and chosen - had to collide with their decision to go and bring forth fruit. Jesus specifically said, “You haven’t chosen me, but I chose you… to go and bring forth fruit.”
They were chosen. They were given a really important task - to go and build a habitation for the Spirit of God. That going and building would prepare them for the purpose set before them. It didn’t matter what life brought them. It didn’t matter the internal turmoil they may have felt at the time. It didn’t matter they were arguing with one another about strategies or tactics or who would be in charge. None of that mattered at all.
They were chosen for a task. That was it. No excuses, Simon Peter. No excuses, James. No excuses, John. Work through your issues. Overcome your self-doubt. Overcome the restrictions humanity puts on you. Overcome the mental struggles you are experiencing right now with stepping out of your comfort zone. Overcome the selfishness and self-ambition within you. GO AND BRING FORTH FRUIT!
“You haven’t chosen me, but I chose you… to go and bring forth fruit.”
As I got a little older and probably a little more athletic and competitive, I eventually quit playing football with all of the guys on Sunday afternoon. At the time when I probably could have competed the best, I stopped playing because I was too busy working and doing other things when I actually should have been playing.
It’s interesting looking back that at times when it may have been time to do something great in my life, I somehow found all sorts of reasons to play it safe or sometimes to not even play at all. Sometimes, it’s still true. I can so easily retreat under the pressures this world brings to the table. It’s easier just to “be,” to be doing something else or even just be on the sidelines watching others… rather than risking failure. Sometimes it’s easier just to be rather than to push forward and do the work required to fulfill the calling and the mission, to produce the fruit the Lord desires of me.
THIS is the reason many leaders don’t feel the fulfillment in their life like they should. Yet, this is when I have to rise up from my self-doubt, insecurities, or whatever other things may have me bound at times. Whatever is holding me back, I have to do what is necessary to do the hard work - to work through those things on the inside of me.
I have to rise up from it. I have to realize, just like His chosen disciples, this simple fact: I did not choose Him first; He called and chose me. He chose me to go and bring forth fruit, and not just any fruit, but He chose me to bring forth holy and divine fruit unlike any other fruit – supernatural and God-given productivity.
I can just hear Him saying, “Ryan, you haven’t chosen me. I—CHOSE—YOU! I chose you to go and bring forth fruit.” I can hear Him calling YOUR name as well. “You haven’t chosen me. I CHOSE YOU... to go and bring forth fruit.”
It’s not easy to fulfill that command. It takes introspection. It takes increased emotional intelligence. It takes leaning into key relationships in our lives. It takes doing the hard work to eliminate the barriers. I believe I can do it. I believe you can do it. I believe the Lord will lead and guide you just as He has in my life. I am a living testament to what the Lord can do!
I want you to evaluate your life through the lens of these two questions:
What is the one thing within me that’s keeping me from
rising up and producing what the Lord desires of me?
What’s something I can do this week to begin working
on that one thing?
Over the next few days, spend a few minutes processing those questions and your unique answers to them both.
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