February 5, 2010
Everyone wants to be a leader, Dr. Walter Wilson told Oklahoma Baptist University students during a weekly chapel service Wednesday, Feb. 3. But not everyone knows what it costs to be a leader, he warned.
“If you’re going to be a good leader, you have to sell out to Jesus,” he said.
Wilson is pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Lawton, Okla. He has started four churches and served as pastor of three churches. He also has served on the board of directors for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. A graduate of Bishop College and Dallas Theological Seminary, he has taught courses at Dallas Baptist University. Wilson spoke in honor of African American Heritage Day in chapel.
Wilson based his message on the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 18, and on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” The book is the foundation of the year’s chapel theme, “Costly Illumination: Counting Everything Loss in Light of the Surpassing Worth of Knowing Christ.”
In the Bible passage, a ruler approaches Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds that the ruler knows and follows the commandments: do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and honor your father and your mother.
However, Jesus points out, the ruler lacks one thing: “Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22).
The passage relates that when he learned the cost of following Jesus, the ruler was extremely sad because he was very rich. The cost of following Jesus was great. Likewise, Wilson said, before a person can be a good leader, he or she must first learn to be a good follower.
Discipleship, he said, can be defined as “discipline learned,” and people who want to lead must be in a constant state of learning. He cautioned students to be careful who they learn from, because some people will readily give advice – bad advice.
“We never learn it all,” he said. “The problem is, some people think they know everything.”
Wilson said some people follow Jesus because they think it is the popular thing to do. However, he warned any journey of discipleship will not be free of pitfalls, including harassment from Satan and abandonment from friends. He said following Jesus always carries a penalty – it costs to follow Christ.
“The closer you get to Christ, the more the enemy seeks you out,” he said. “If he hasn’t bothered you, then you better start praying.
“It’s not easy on this journey,” he added. “People will abandon you. But Jesus will never leave you.”
The ruler who approached Jesus had a worthy ambition, Wilson said. He was speaking to the right person – Jesus – the same Jesus who calmed the sea, the same man who healed the sick and raised the dead. But the ruler failed to count – or accept – the cost of discipleship.