“And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” -Matthew 3:17
For those of us who study theology, John’s baptism of Jesus is a beautiful picture of the Trinity. For others, it is a picture of our Lord submitting himself to be baptized by one who sees himself as less, yet engaging him with humility and grace. But the big takeaway from this story for me is the words of the Father to his Son. Jesus was deeply delighted in and approved of before he ever called disciples, preached a sermon, or healed a leper. God delighted in his son apart from any works, and so this verse has much to say to developing leaders like myself and has had a deep impact during my time at Three Fourteen.
1. I am approved of apart from any achievement. Knowing that God approves fully of me, not by my merit or hard work, but solely based upon the finished work of Christ brings freedom. My achievements don’t put me in good status, but someone else’s sacrifice on my behalf! This was a challenge for me to understand as someone who is so easily performance driven and naturally derives my identity from things achieved.
Oh, how often do we fall into a works-based salvation. Lord, help us to see your approval of us!
2. I need to hear the voice of more. This idea of “the voice of more” isn’t something new to me, I just couldn’t put it into words. Hearing from those who have gone before us — that we are made for more than just achievement, preaching great sermons, leading flourishing ministries, and developing strategic plans — is hugely important. We were made to be instruments of redemption, to display the glory of Christ to a lost and broken world. If we as young leaders continually hear from those who have gone before us that God is pleased in us, he delights in us, and he loves us, then our response will be to proclaim His glorious gospel or grace, no matter what the outcome. This is something to beat into our heads until our hearts believe it and our actions display it.
3. Unmerited grace in a young leader’s life creates a sense of humility and compassion towards others. Knowing that God sees me as he sees Christ is an overwhelming thought. Sitting in this reality has been a humbling experience over the past year. Grasping the idea that my failures, shortcomings, and weaknesses are a platform to boast in the glorious strength of Christ has not only humbled me, but motivated me to pursue His plan and purposes. Then, as the reality of Christ being the propitiation for my sake sinks in, I can see that those I lead need to experience this same grace, to hear the same things that I hear:
You are a beloved son/daughter in whom the father is well pleased.