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Spiritual Giants: The Life of John Wesley Part 1

This past summer of Student Leadership University was amazing. Students from all over the country, at different places in their leadership development journey, continued to delve deeper into what it means to think, dream, and lead. One of the highlights of the summer for me was teaching on the life and leadership of John Wesley (1703-1791) at SLU 301. Wesley led what has been referred to as The Evangelical Awakening in Britain and his Methodism has been compared to the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in impact. Therefore over the course of the next two weeks I would like to share some life experiences from this giant in history that can be interpreted into our leadership journeys and development.

Life is but a vapor

Wesley was number fifteen of nineteen children and he would be one of only six that would survive into adulthood. At the age of six he had a near death experience when their house caught fire and he was the last one to escape. Just before the roof collapsed some of the neighbors saw young John in the window and one man stood on anothers shoulders rescuing him from the fire. His mother and others would refer to him as a burning stick snatched from the fire (Zech. 3:2) and this near death experience would be a memory close to John for the rest of his life.

Know Goddont just settle for knowing about God

Wesley was raised in a strong Christian environment, enjoyed a Christian education, and even went on a missionary trip to Georgia, and yet had never crossed the line of faith into the arms of Jesus. In fact, it wasnt until May 24, 1738 while attending a meeting on Aldersgate Street in London while listening to the prologue to Luthers commentary on Romans (wow that sounds exciting) when he recalls: About a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt that I did trust Christ, Christ alone, for salvation.

Position and status are for the insecure

He also shows us the value and power of the fellowship of a few with the Holy Club. The Holy Club was a small group that included both John and Charles Wesley that met 3-4 nights a week during college. Their time would be spent reading classic literature and studying Greek, Hebrew and Latin. They also visited the poor and imprisoned, daily examined their lives, took weekly communion and fasted every Wednesday and Friday. They were committed to personal holiness and thus looked down upon by many of their fellow students. Their commitment to personal holiness far outranked their concern for what others might think.

Care for the obviously overlooked

Wesley would spend his entire life raising money for the poor and caring for those who would be often overlooked by the church. His ministry was not one that segregated the love of God involving both women and children in ministry and taking a public stance against the institution of slavery (more on that next week). When our students visit his chapel at 301 there in the courtyard is a statue of him with the inscription at its base: The world is my parish. His calling to be a preacher of the gospel was in no way reserved for only those who had preferred seating in a church. He was a revolutionary and we have only begun to scratch the surface.

By: Brent Crowe

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