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Spiritual Giants: The Life of John Wesley part 2

The man had a worldwide reputation and shook the streets of England for the glory of God. It is never healthy to emphasize one historical character too much, but it is hard to imagine our Christian heritage these last few hundred years absent of this spiritual giant. Dr. Lewis Drummond concluded this from Wesleys movement, Evangelism experiences its greatest reaping time during the periods of spiritual awakening. But one can learn much more from the leadership perspective of John Wesley, so this week we continue down that path:

The community is not always right and sometimes you stand-alone.
Much is said these days about teamwork and leading as part of a community. But a leader must also be aware that at times the leader stands alone on his/her convictions. This means that leaders do not necessarily always have followers; sometimes you stand out in front of where everyone should be while popularity catches up to your convictions. This is true with Wesley and the issue of slavery. He took a public stand, when very few would, against the slave trade. And he did so when even one of his closest friends, George Whitfield, owned slaves.

If you want to see the power of God pray, pray, and then pray some more.
One New Years Eve shortly after Wesley had returned from Georgia and shortly after his conversion, he held a prayer service in a chapel in Fetter Lane, London. At this annual watch night service they had a meal, took communion, prayed and read Scripture. Wesley recorded the event, About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we recovered a little from the awe and amazement at the presence of His majesty, we broke out with one voice, We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord! Oh that we Christian leaders would long to experience the same awe and amazement.

Roll until the wheels fall off.
Wesley was never idle and lived his life as if he were trying to squeeze every ounce of life out of it for the glory of God. He averaged three sermons a day for over fifty years preaching more than 44,000 times in his life. He traveled by horseback and carriage more than 200,000 miles (5,000 a year). He personally influenced 550 traveling preachers and over 1,500 local pastors. He wrote a four-volume commentary on the Bible, dictionary of the English language, five volumes on philosophy, four volumes on church history, the histories of England and Rome, grammars on Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English and French, three works on medicine, six volumes on church music, and seven volumes of sermons and papers. If we learn anything from this, it is that a Christian leader should have the tenacity to make it all count.

When youre done, dont turn the lights off.
Wesley died in his 65th year of ministry at the age of 88. Two days before his death, he penned not a letter of reflection of his journey or farewell to his friends, but he wrote to a rising young leader whom he had previously met, William Wilberforce. Wilberforce had recently announced that he wanted to see the abolition of the slave trade in his lifetime. While Wesleys ministry yielded a lot of fruit he had not yet turned the tide of this evil institution. So his final message was as a man in his eighties to a younger man in his twenties. The letter was only two paragraphs and the following is a small excerpt: Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O, be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Brent Crowe

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