What are the stories that inspire you? The ones that encourage you into action, to make a change in the world? For me, they are the stories that surprise me, and make me think about new ways of doing things – they are often not the typical ones.
I think of my mum’s friend Judy, who studied art history and loved artistic depictions of biblical scenes. The effect of the pieces of art on her was so powerful and awe-inspiring that she began to read about the stories they portrayed, and came to a personal faith in Jesus.
But all this occurred only because an Israelite captive, a young woman with no societal status, had the courage to speak out about the power of her God.
I think of Holly Burkhalter, Senior Advisor for Justice System Transformation at International Justice Mission (IJM). In her book, Good God, Lousy World, and Me: The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist from Unbelief to Faith, Holly discusses how her desire to work for the new NGO led her to turn to Christianity. She wanted to know more about the faith that had motivated high-flying Washington lawyers to leave lucrative careers in order to lead a new charity that protected the poor from violence.
I think of the general Naaman, “a great man in the sight of his master [the King of Aram] and highly regarded”, who had leprosy (2 Kings 5). He was healed through the prophet Elisha, and subsequently declared, “now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel”. But all this occurred only because an Israelite captive, a young woman with no societal status, had the courage to speak out about the power of her God.
Holly, Judy and Naaman were influenced by people who were, in different ways, public leaders; Christians seeking to be Godly voices in every sphere, and at every level, of society. They might be lawyers, artists, refugees, doctors, students, or cleaners, but they want to serve God and serve their community, and they are intentional about standing up, speaking out and taking action to do this.
Public leaders probably don’t call themselves evangelists, and yet evangelism is a natural consequence of their actions.
Think of the prophet Daniel: he was a trusted political leader in a pagan society, seeking the welfare of the city (Jeremiah 29:7), even though it was a city that had destroyed his own. In everything he did, he pointed to God. As a result, the king responded by acknowledging Daniel’s God as “God of gods and the Lord of kings” (Daniel 2:46).
I love these stories because they remind me that God made each one of us uniquely, and each of us is called to a different role, using our different gifts.
Public leaders probably don’t call themselves evangelists, and yet evangelism is a natural consequence of their actions. I think many people feel constrained by the word ‘evangelism’, because they don’t feel it applies to who they are. So I invite you to think of it from a different angle.
Rather than thinking about evangelism methodology, consider what you’re passionate about. Do you volunteer for a charity, or love talking about books, or seek to be a compassionate and godly manager? Perhaps you want to serve your local community, or have a national impact on a particular policy. Whatever it is, it is an opportunity to be salt and light to others.
If people don't know you are a Christian, you cannot evangelise.
A senior business leader once told one of my colleagues, “I’ve never thought about coming out as a Christian.” If people don’t know you are a Christian, you cannot evangelise. But if you are intentional about publicly leading for God – using the gifts He has given you to serve others and declaring Him as the ultimate source of your motivation – it gives us a platform to speak about the saviour who calls us to leadership.
It’s not easy, and there can be a cost to leading for Christ. But it is necessary if we want to have a voice in society, for God and for good.
If we want to evangelise to all people everywhere, then we need Christian leaders of integrity and vision who can walk beside them at every level, in every sphere, in every workplace, in every community and in every network.
Public Leadership is about equipping and encouraging Christians to live out the God story in a way that changes culture – by intentionally, strategically taking a lead. Public leaders are ordinary Christians who are a voice for good, serving those around them, and a voice for God, publicly following God’s calling on their life. Visit our website, thepublicleader.com, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.