The Leader and Their Destiny
In the last two posts, I have offered elements of a core construct of our redeemed personhood – identity and capacity – and how these elements of who we are in Christ are foundational to the functioning of our leadership. I laid out how leadership flows from inside us to those around us. It comes from our very being and is not just a task or role we play. I shared how I see leadership as influence and how Christ uses the totality of our redeemed personhood as the means of such effect.
Our identity in Christ gives us the security to lead and be confident and determined in Him. Capacity is then the heart of Christ’s love for those whom we lead. In our identity, we are sons and daughters (ref. John 1:12). In our capacity, we are servants called to care for the needs of others, embracing them as Jesus would (ref. Psalm 119:32, Philippians 2:1-11). These are fundamental elements of who we are and the associated relational roles out of which we lead others.
Today, I’d like to introduce another core construct built upon our identity and capacity and is essential to our healthy and fruitful function as a leader. It is something which I have named as destiny, and here is my “working definition”:
Destiny: The unique Kingdom contribution an individual makes through partnering with God in the co-creative process of expressing dominion. It is the expression of God’s creative nature in the person, manifesting in the form of valued relational roles and uniquely specific tasks within God’s Kingdom economy. (Johnston, Tom. The Way of the Master: The Leader Development Methodology of Jesus. (2021), p. 14. Kindle Edition.)
As I have defined it, destiny is the particular impact that we have within God’s Kingdom endeavor as we partner with Him in His mission. There is something of Jesus, unique in each of us, that is His expression through us. Only you can be you in Christ. Only you can do what He has called you to do. No one else can make the contribution to His “Kingdom economy” that is yours alone to make. Yes, that’s right – there is something of Jesus only you can bring to the table. And if you don’t, well, we are lessened, the Body of Christ impacted, and the mission of God impaired. We need Jesus in you; we need you to fulfill your destiny!
In our identity, we are sons and daughters. In our capacity of heart, we are servants. In our destiny, we are stewards who hold a place of responsibility in the Kingdom. The grace upon our lives is a valued investment by God in us, and we must use it for His purposes and for His glory. Stewardship is taking responsibility for something that is not our own and using it to benefit the one who does own it. We were bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus. We are not our own (ref. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). Jesus tells many parables about our stewardship responsibility in the Scripture. One parable of note which many are familiar with concerns the Talents, and is found in Matthew 18:14-30:
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
The King is looking for a return on His investment in us. There is an expectation to “trade” and “invest” what He has placed in us. He is looking for the multiplication of His Kingdom life through us in proportion to what He has given us. Christ’s calling upon us, the Holy Spirit at work through us, comes with the expectation of fruitfulness. As leaders, our roles within that calling need to align with and be empowered by His gifts. Our best contribution comes, our destiny is fulfilled, when our grace-gifts and assignment align. We must not allow ourselves to either waste His investment in us through inaction or disengagement, nor spend what we have been given on efforts outside the bounds of our gifting. We must hit the “niche” He has for us if we are going to most fully engage our destiny.
As you can see, discovering one’s God-originated destiny is crucial in our holistic approach to understanding human personhood and is absolutely essential for leaders to be effective in their calling. As Thomas Merton noted:
Each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His Kingdom. If we find that place we will be happy. If we do not find it, we can never be completely happy. For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be (Merton, Thomas. No Man is an Island (2003), p. 131).
So, dear leader, have you found your place of Kingdom contribution that matches and fits your calling and current gifts? Perhaps there is a ways to go in your development before the ultimate contribution to the Kingdom can be made. That’s alright – serve where you are now. Make what contribution you can. Grow in your grace, learn to wear it, to flow with it, and to move in it. Be a blessing now. Seek to grow in your identity, your capacity, and your understanding of your grace-gifts, that you might grow into – and fulfill God’s intended purposes for you. What He has called you to do has been prepared beforehand – you just need to walk it out with Him. It is your destiny!
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).