10 Rules of Life for a Follower of Jesus

follower-jesus
We all live by a set of rules that guide the choices we make and the attitudes we hold.
We all have a ‘Rule of Life’. The question is if we are intentional in naming and following the rules that will help us be most faithful as followers of Jesus Christ. Left unexamined, we can allow external, worldly influences to shape and even overwhelm our rules of life. We can become ‘conformed to the standards of this world’ (Romans 12) without even knowing it.

A study of scripture will reveal a host of possible rules for life. We must each define for ourselves what we will choose to lift up as non-negotiables.

What are the absolutes in your life? What behaviors and attitudes will you commit to as the foundation for your witness and work?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I commit:

1. To define success as obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ in God’s Word

How we define success drives everything we do. If success is defined in terms of financial strength, career advancement or the accumulation of experiences, these markers will demand our attention and compete for resources of time and energy. When you look at your calendar, your to do lists and your sources of satisfaction they will point you to the driving forces in your life.

For followers of Jesus there must be one driving force that trumps all others, namely, an unequivocal passion for knowing and following God’s will and purpose in your life. As God’s people we succeed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. We succeed when we seek God’s will for every decision in life and refuse to move ahead until we know it. We succeed when we place God’s will above our desires, God’s way above our plans, and God’s wisdom above our own cleverness.

This rule of life is simple, to know and do God’s will above all else. It is the bedrock of everything else we seek to do with the life God so graciously gives us.

2. To resist the temptation of control by instead placing my confidence in God’s promises

The serpent’s offer in Eden rings in our ears every day whenever we are tempted to grab control for ourselves. To ‘be like God’ is the defining passion of our old, sinful nature. This rule of life requires us to take seriously the need to

‘trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on your own understanding.’ Proverbs 3:5
Paul pleads with us like he did the church in Colossae, “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules?” Why indeed!

For followers of Jesus the first step in the victorious Christian life is surrender. It starts on our knees where we daily renounce the desire to play the owner and grasp control. Instead we seek for the heart of the steward who joyfully manages what he does not own and rests securely in the Master’s promises.

This rule of life requires us to acknowledge both God’s sovereignty and God’s love. He is big enough to handle every situation, and He loves us enough to do so in our favor. Why would we not place our full confidence in Him?

3. To resist the temptation of idolatry and trusting in money or possessions rather than God

Let’s face it, money makes us feel secure. The more we have the less we tend to worry about paying bills and surviving unexpected crises. Yet both Jesus and history have taught us that money is a fickle foundation for true security. And worse, when we make it an idol it causes us to look at it and away from Jesus. That is the nature of idols, they demand our attention. How much time do you spend focused on issues related to money; how to earn it, invest it, protect it, spend it and earn more of it…? Jesus was clear, ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’

For followers of Jesus, we must be tenacious and merciless when it comes to tearing down every vestige of this idol in our lives. We replace it with a joyful trust in God’s abundant provision. When He is all we need, we will always have all we want.

This rule requires us to be brutally honest in identifying our idols and unrelenting in destroying them. In their place we seek first God and His kingdom in full trust that all else we need will be ‘added unto us’.

4. To resist the temptation of pride by finding my identity and affirmation in Christ alone

We all love applause. It comes in many forms and it always makes us feel valued, affirmed and appreciated. At face value it seems innocent enough, but behind it lurks a powerful enemy. Like all sin, pride comes into our lives quietly, dressed in acceptable garb so as not to draw our attention or raise concern. Then it works its way through our mind and heart like yeast through dough until our rule of life becomes shaped by our desires to hear applause from every other source than the hands of our Savior. As we do, we tie our identity to those sources and then wonder why we have lost a sense of who we are.

For followers of Jesus we have but one triune source for our identity. We are children of God, disciples of Christ and heirs of salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit. If that is the source of our true identity, it will also be the one place we look for the applause and affirmation we seek.

This rule requires us to check our heart and identify the pride that lurks within. It then commits us to find our identity solely in Christ and to seek only the sweet applause that comes from nail-scarred hands.

5. To submit to the Father and be filled, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit

This may seem basic as a rule of life. After all, to whom else would we submit but God alone? Well here’s a few options. We could submit to fear, submit to pride, submit to ambition, submit to despair or submit to our passions. To submit means simply to come under the power and influence of another. When we fear for our future, let our pride rule our lives, drive ourselves through unbridled ambition, wallow in despair or yield to our base passions, we submit to some power other than God’s. 

As a follower of Jesus submission and filling are two sides of the same coin. By submitting we empty ourselves that we might be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. That infilling provides us with the guidance and power we need for victorious living as a child of God. Just like dying to sin gives birth to rising to righteousness and living in Christ, so emptying ourselves through submission gives birth to the infilling of the Spirit and living the joyful, purposeful life in Christ.

This rule brings us to our knees in humble submission then lifts us up to the heights of life and service for which God created us. It is the ultimate act of imitating Christ, who began as a child in a manger and will come again on the clouds of heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Come Lord Jesus.

6. To employ faithfulness-focused strategies related to prayerful strategic planning

As leaders we face the temptation to create strategies that are solely focused on growth as our measurement of success. As steward leaders we must choose a different path. Our measurement of success must be focused on faithfulness to hear and obey the directions of the Owner. When strategy is developed in the crucible of discerning prayer it will produce vision that will bear witness more to our desire for obedient service than organizational advancement. Put another way, we will focus on building God’s kingdom, not our own.

As steward leaders we must reject the temptation to build strategy on the unexamined presupposition that growth is the driving measurement of success. In its place we must create a culture that is satisfied only in its pursuit of uncompromised and absolute faithfulness to ‘every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

This rule requires us to subordinate deeply entrenched business practices to the higher calling of obedience, trust and faith. It requires spiritual maturity and discernment on everyone’s behalf. It is the work of the steward leader to create the context and passion for such a pursuit.

7. To utilize eternity-oriented metrics for ministry accountability and transparent financial administration

Kingdom work is eternal work. In our role as a steward leader we are striving for impact that has eternal value. Doesn’t it make sense that we would create metrics that align with this ultimate goal? If we measure success in terms of faithfulness, we must apply metrics that tell us how we are doing in achieving that faithfulness. We measure what we value. What are you measuring that determines what you value and consider ‘success’? 

If we are stewards of what belongs to the sovereign God of all creation, there is also no room for even the least suggestion of ethical compromise or secret financial dealings. Transparency is a non-negotiable for every steward leader. Secrecy in any form is an invitation for the enemy to breed deception, accommodation and compromise. Drive every form of it from your organization, and your heart.

This rule provides us with a challenge and a charge. The challenge is to tie our measurements of success to our commitment to faithfulness as our driving definition of success. The charge is to examine all of our financial dealings and let no shadow of compromise in integrity fall on them. Steward leaders are called to pay careful attention to both.

8. To manage relationships from a posture of humility and love

How we measure success will dictate how we manage our people toward the accomplishment of that success. When we are driven by a never-ending need for growth we will manage people as means to the end of achieving those results. Our people can become units of production instead of fellow travelers on a journey of faith. By measuring success as faithfulness we are freed to manage our people according to kingdom metrics. That is, we can value the whole person and, with humility mixed with love, we can help unfold the skills and aptitudes of our people.

As steward leaders we profess that we do not ‘own’ the people who work for us. We are called instead to steward their time and investment in our work, bringing out their best and caring for them as ends and not merely as means.

This rule provides us with an opportunity to be used by God to help each person entrusted to us to become more faithful, and thereby more fruitful stewards of their life and work. When our people are set free to live as God created them to live, they are best prepared to serve our organizations with passion, excellence and joy. That is among the highest callings of a steward leader.

9. To mobilize spiritually gifted people and exhort them to demonstrate radical Christian generosity

A distinguishing mark of a faithful steward is a spirit of generosity. Likewise a telling characteristic of a faithful organization or ministry is a culture of generosity. The antithesis of this culture is an environment of protectionism fomented by a scarcity mindset. Such organizations focus on what they don’t have and complain of never having enough. Owner leaders fuel this attitude in an effort to keep the pressure on to perform. Does a scarcity mentality dominate your organization?

Steward leaders cultivate an abundance mindset that reflects the nature of the God we serve. They model this abundance by the way they lead, manage and guide their people. They focus on how to get the most from what they have believing God has supplied them with all they need to do His work His way. It is the pursuit of doing things God’s way with God’s resources that drives a steward leader. And scarcity has no place in such an endeavor.

This rule shapes culture like none other. Generosity is infectious. Once a leader models it consistently it will permeate an organization and influence every aspect from budgeting to envisioning, from managing to resource raising. Steward leaders shape culture. Will your legacy be one of scarcity or abundance?

10. To model steward leadership that glorifies God and points the way so that others may follow

This rule sums up the previous nine and commits us to a genuine and authentic walk as a steward leader. Steward leaders live and lead through the reality that everything belongs to God. They seek intimacy with God as their most important work. They refuse to tie their identity to their job but they anchor it firmly in their calling as a child of God and a follower of Jesus. Steward leaders view others as fellow travelers and never just as means to an end. They treat all resources as gifts to be stewarded according to the will of the true Owner. They do no put their security in money nor do they shrink back from their responsibilities to care for creation.

All of these components of a steward leader are subsumed under the broader understanding that this is spiritual warfare, and the steward leader who thrives will live the truth that victory in this battle begins with surrender.

This rule calls us back to the foundations of our faith. It calls us to start our leadership day on our knees, surrendering back to God what is already His. In doing so, we position ourselves to allow God’s power and love to flow through us, that we might serve in His name and lead others for His glory.

Will you commit today to live out these ten rules of life? The joy and freedom of the faithful steward awaits all who do. May you be blessed on that journey!

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