Five Ways to avoid becoming a “Souler Eclipse”
#1 – Give Glory to God
The very first thing we can do is “give credit where credit is due.” Give all the credit to Jesus (and I mean all of it). Is Jesus getting the glory for what is being done or are we? Are people flooding me with accolades and praise or are they seeing the work “He” is doing through me? I have to be honest, when people start praising me, I drink it up like a kitten lapping up a saucer of cream. As under-shepherds we really need to constantly give the glory to Jesus. Not in a false, cheesy way where self deprecation sounds plastic and fabricated. But in a truly humble God honoring way that draws the flock’s attention to the Great Shepherd.
#2 – Don’t Be a Control Freak
Don’t try to control and manipulate people. Keep exhorting them to obey Jesus, His Word, and His Spirit (not you). One of the key lessons we’ve learned is that before asking people to make application to a message or Bible study, we have them pray and ask Jesus what He wants them to do in-light of our discussion. Now we’ve put the burden of conviction and application squarely on the shoulders of the Holy Spirit. I don’t want people running around saying. “Well, my mentor told me…” That is the last thing I want. They should be doing what Jesus tells them to do not me. Besides, I make for a real lousy holy spirit.
#3 – Elevate Jesus as the Authority
Constantly point to Jesus. Take a note of how often the name of Jesus is crossing your lips. Is He the first place you go to answer a disciple’s question. And notice I said “A” disciple’s question not “YOUR” disciple. I want people to have a clear vision in their minds that the objective is to become like Jesus (and not me). I recently heard a testimony where the young “convert” stated the organizations name a dozen or more times and never mentioned Jesus once. Now that’s a total “Soular Eclipse!” We really need to point to Jesus as the first and foremost example. He’s the only one who could state with a straight face, “I’ve done exactly what the Father wanted Me to do.” (John 5.19) So as you’re making disciples, make disciples of Jesus (not you) and talk about Jesus every chance you get.
#4 – Release Authority to Others
Delegate authority and responsibility as soon as possible. Jesus was the master of delegation. He delegated baptism (John 4.2), Authority over demons, and power to heal (Matthew 10.1). Jesus released authority pretty quickly to those whom we may deem as unqualified. He even sends a man who had just been delivered from a legion of demons to be His ambassador of good news to the Decapolis. What authority or responsibility are we withholding because we think “they may do it or say it wrong?” I have a saying; “If you want great followers, be a great leader. If you want great leaders, get out of the way.”
We need to give the “Priesthood of All Believers” more than lip service. (1 Peter 2.5-9, Revelation 1.6, 5.10) If we are going to move out of the way and multiply spiritual leadership, the priesthood of all believers needs to become our end-state for our leadership development. That’s what Jesus did! He was in the habit of turning fish into fishermen, sheep into shepherds, and ordinary people into priests.
#5 – Don’t Put Someone Else on a Pedestal
The last point is really about not letting anyone become your “Soular Eclipse.” Don’t let any other person or thing compete for your loyalty and affection to Jesus. He deserves first place and there really should be no close second. Hero worship is rampant in our culture. Athletes, models, movie stars, authors, and even the favorite YouTuber can be idolized as a god. But we as Christians would never set such a low bar for a hero. No, we would rather have our favorite preacher, pastor, mentor, or some other Christian celebrity. It’s amazing how quickly we can elevate someone or something to “god-status.” We even do this with other people in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews warns against elevating Moses or angels above that of the person of Christ. (Hebrews 1-3) And on the mount of Transfiguration Peter wants to build three tabernacles, one for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. God the Father breaks into the conversation with, “This is my Son, my Chosen ONE; listen to HIM!” (Luke 9.35, Emphasis mine)
Now I’m going to go from preaching to meddling. I think in these days we are dangerously close to elevating the Apostle Paul above Jesus. Listen very carefully as people answer questions, use Scripture to solve problems, preach about most often, model their ministries most after. I’m just saying. Be careful! The only one that should be on the throne in your heart is Jesus.
So we have looked at the “Soular Eclipse” from three angles;
– Bad examples of becoming an eclipse
– Good examples of how not to be an eclipse
– Five ways to avoid becoming an eclipse ourselves
It is clear from the Bible that we as spiritual leaders and disciple makers need to be very careful not to get in the way (or put our leaders in the way). I’m not saying we shouldn’t reverence and honor spiritual leaders (1 Thessalonians 5.12-13, 1 Timothy 5.17, Hebrews 13.7) and even obey them (Hebrews 13.17). But I am saying if we ever place our leaders in a position of preeminence above God or heaven forbid we ourselves become that “toad in the road,” we are going to have huge problems.
It’s kind of like introducing two people for the first time. You don’t stand between them and point over your back and say, “Bill this is Joe. Joe, Bill.”And then they have to awkwardly try to shake hands around you. No, we stand to the side so that they can see one another and get to know one another without us getting in the way. We need to have our spiritual leadership rightly aligned in our lives and the lives of others.
I remember when I was a kid and saw the moon during daylight for the first time. It blew my mind! I said to myself, “That’s so cool! The sun is up and I can see the moon too! Is that supposed to happen?” Why yes, it actually happens like clockwork as the earth orbits the sun and the moon orbits the earth. Everything is as it should be. (And I might add, so is a solar eclipse. But never a “Soular Eclipse”) You know what else is cool? When we see spiritual leaders who are rightly aligned with the Son and clearly reflect His glory to His disciples. This is what we were designed to do and this is our challenge as we lead our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.