Jordan Lee | June 04, 2018
Growing up, my dad always encouraged me to be a leader, not a follower.
He’d lean over and say, “J, the world operates at a C level. Don’t be like the world.”
As I transitioned from high school to college, he whispered a challenge:
Don’t conform to what everyone else is doing. Be a non-conformist.
I liked the sentiment but I didn’t quite understand its importance right away. It wasn’t until I found myself sitting in a dorm room full of other freshman students that all seemed to be asking one thing: Where’s the party?
The party scene is often a norm on most college campuses. It seems like nearly everyone is doing it.
But after some not-so-great run-ins with that scene, I began to see the wisdom in my dad’s advice. And God taught me something profound that every leader needs to know: just because something is normal, does not mean that it is good.
When we settle for the status quo, for what’s normal, we begin to conform to what we’re told rather than confront the culture with Truth.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The Hebrew meaning for the word, wonderfully, is “set apart, unique.”
I am fearfully set apart.
Leading isn’t so much about being on the platform or at the head of the group as it is about being noticeably different. You don’t lead when you land a certain position or facilitate discussion at small group. You lead when you live set apart from the world—and you can do that right where you are.
See, leaders aren’t just the ones at the front paving a way. They’re not the ones with the flashy things or their names in lights. They’re the faithful ones—the ones that turn around to help someone behind them, the ones that endure through the tension of the middle, and the spur others on toward righteousness from behind.
Powerful people may change the world but people who persevere in standing steadfastly on God’s Word are the ones who make eternal impact. And I want to be on the side of eternity, don’t you?
We are called to be set apart, not to settle in—that means we need to be culture changers, not changed by the culture.
True leaders are set apart, they don’t settle in. Have we settled in too comfortably to our couches, cushioned church seats, and even the surrounding culture? Or are we dissatisfied with the status quo and willing to take a stand?
Additionally, just be because true leaders are set apart does not mean they are separated and unaware of what’s going on.
No, true leaders are present in the trenches, standing steadfast on God’s Word when the world is falling away from it, and shining light in darkness.
What good is light to the darkness if it’s not actually illuminating it?
We don’t change the culture sitting inside the walls of a church service. We change the world around us by being the church, present in the thick of it.
So, what can you do?
- Remember: just because its normal doesn’t mean it’s good.
- Adopt a culture changing mindset by asking yourself daily: what am I doing to destroy hell and bring heaven to earth today?
- Armor yourself in God’s Word and anytime you’re unsure of something you see in culture, and whether or not it’s truth, weigh it against the Word. That is the only thing that is unchanging in an ever-changing culture.
- Don’t try to do this alone. Find strong community to help you live like a steadfast, set apart leader so that you’re not doing it alone.
Don’t settle in, don’t separate, and don’t seclude yourself. DO be steadfast in God’s Word and seek out strong community.
The ones who change the culture don’t settle for the status quo. And they’re the ones who take a stand, not the ones who take a seat. They’re the ones who pursue perseverance over fleeting popularity. The ones who live like they’re set apart instead of the ones who settle in.
Which are you?