You might recall a conversation late last year on 20Twenty with Dr Bryan Byrne, about a series of books on Christian discipleship. Bryan reflected on his own inadequacies and the mediocrity of his own personal discipleship journey.
What does it mean to be a real disciple? Have many of us missed the demanding truth of what’s involved in becoming a true disciple?
Bryan’s newest book, The Leaders As Those Who Serve, will be released later in March. Bryan recently joined us again for an in-depth discussion on leadership and discipleship in the church today.
Bryan comments that discipleship and leadership are connected. “A disciple knows how to listen to the spirit, which today is a skill that a lot of people are missing. The responsibility rests on leaders to teach this, and begs the question what kind of leaders do we have who can actually disciple people?”
The local church is a place to express discipleship, we should be present and heard inside the church. “A leader has to be a disciple themselves to teach others,” says Bryan.
“Leaders are appointed by authority, and they tend to function as leaders in a structure of authority. If you take that away, they are under the direction of the Lord, which is the essence of being a disciple. But we have to know how.”
Bryan believes that great leaders make great disciples. “We have to be willing to follow Jesus, take up our cross and deny ourselves. The best example of that is a relationship with the Lord Himself. The spirit reveals everything and teaches everyone.”
Bryan says that one of the most important qualities of leadership is to know what eternal life is. “It’s something that existed before we were born, it’s the life of Jesus expressed through a leader. Christ lives his life in us, and that is on of the great mysteries of God. We need to know how to follow the Lord and listen so we can go where He wants us to go.
Spiritual qualities are so important. Jesus said follow me, which means walk beside me literally. Always within the sound of my voice. A leader must have an intimate relationship with the Lord Himself.”
Bryan also talks about leaders being shepherds and teachers. “Jesus said heed me as the teacher. The Lord himself is the model, the Great Shepherd. Some leaders focus on self and how they can benefit. But the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Leaders need to be willing to do this on behalf of those they shepherd. They need to know their sheep and have a personal relationship with them. You just don’t get that from the pulpit.”
“Those who follow Jesus have to have access to His authority. This is not found in a religious life, it’s the issue of Godliness. We have to have an intimate, personal, inner relationship with the Lord. We draw on the Lord’s resources, which are infinite.
One of the tragedies of church life is that what the members hear is such a small percent of the whole counsel of God. A teacher has a responsibility to teach everything, from beginning to end.”