Yesterday I was writing a leadership article for a online magazine that I have the privilege of working for. (You can read some of the posts here if you’re interested).
As I was working away without spectacular inspiration, 2 Corinthians 4 cut across my mind like the shadow of a huge aeroplane crossing just above the motorway I was mentally pootling down.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (v7)
If the truth be told, I didn’t manage to finish the article I was working on and, honestly, only gave the verse a cursory glance before heading home for the day. But manoeuvring my large, yellow coffee mug towards my mouth earlier this afternoon, I noticed that it was leaking!
The same Corinthians verses jolted me out of my caffeine stupor.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (vv 8-10)
Leading With A Limp
The article in question that I’ll eventually finish for Healthy Leaders is drawing on Dan Allender’s superb book Leading With A Limp. So, Paul’s words that now filled my mind were superimposing the themes of servant-heartedness and weakness within leadership.
Here’s the simple thought that I hope will encourage you today whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re carrying and wherever you are,
God doesn’t use people who think they have it all together; He uses people who know they’re broken
His Goodness All Over the Place
It will only ever be through the brokenness and the cracks in our lives that the life of Jesus may also be revealed (2 Cor.4:10 cf. 2 Cor.12:9).
The tent of our flesh (sarx) is the jar of clay in which the treasure of the Spirit of God – the very Ruach of God – dwells and flows. He is our down payment sealing us for the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13) and also the promise of the fullness of things to come (Ephesians 3:16).
Where We Go Wrong
But you and I go seriously wrong when we think or assume that we must eventually graduate from these fragile jars of clay to become something sturdier and prettier or something like grandiose goblets of gold.
Guys, this side of the return of Christ, we will always be cracked, leaky jars of clay! Maturity in Christ doesn’t look more golden but more beaten, bruised and crushed (Isaiah 53 cf. 2 Cor.1:5; 4:10; 11:22-29).
What’s more, at the centre of mature Christian discipleship (oh, how needed in the West!) is the recognition – and joyful embrace – that, yes, we are deeply flawed people, riddled with insecurities and blind-spots, but who also have inherited a new ‘due North’ in Christ – a new ‘default mode’ in Jesus, even when we don’t do so well.
He knows us just as we were, just as we are and just as we will be. He has called us by name! We will always have bad days but, by the all-sufficiency of His grace, we remain the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus…even when we get it completely wrong. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9)
So if you feel cracked and leaky and even broken today, you’re doing much better than you might think! It’s in the revelation of this stunning reality that our deeply-rooted jars of clay are able to carry and even leak Jesus wherever we set our feet!