5 leadership lessons John Calvin understood

Calvin understood that people are transformed by truth

We live in an age where technique is king and pragmatism is queen. The church has fallen prey to this vicious cycle. We tend to do what works and invest in what brings results. Steve Lawson writes, “The church is always looking for better methods in order to reach the world. But God is looking for better men who will devote themselves to his biblically mandated method for advancing his kingdom, namely, preaching – and not just any kind of preaching, but expository preaching.” In a day when preaching is being downplayed, and theology is being ignored, we need to remember what Calvin understood. Namely, people are transformed by the Truth of God’s Word.

Calvin understood and modeled the need for courage in times of adversity and persecution

Calvin lived in a time when Protestants were being burned at the stake because the truth was transforming them. He was committed to boldly proclaiming the truth no matter what the cost. Calvin adds, “If, while conscious of our innocence, we are deprived of our substance by the wickedness of man, we are, no doubt, humanly speaking, reduced to poverty; but in truth our riches in heaven are increased: if driven from our homes, we have a more welcome reception into the family of God; if vexed and despised, we are more firmly rooted in Christ; if stigmatized by disgrace and ignominy, we have a higher place in the kingdom of God; and if we are slain, entrance is thereby given us to eternal life. The Lord having set such a price upon us, let us be ashamed to estimate ourselves at less than the shadowy and evanescent allurements of the present life.”

Calvin reminds us of the sinfulness of humans and the utter need for God’s grace

The flaws in Calvin himself remind us of the sinfulness of sin. He was deeply aware of his own sin.  But he was also acutely aware of the reality of grace. His life bears witness to this: He was simul iustus et peccator – simultaneously righteous and sinful.

Calvin reminds us what one man on a mission can accomplish in Christ’s strength

My good friend and colleague, Pastor Wayne Pickens rightly says, “God uses people to reach people.” God used an ordinary man for an extraordinary purpose. Or as David Hall writes, “A single man with heart aflame changed the world.”

Calvin reminds us of the sufficiency of Christ and his work on the cross for sinners

The cry of Calvin’s heart was the Lord Jesus Christ. He consistently pointed sinners to Christ and his cross.

May the life of John Calvin serve as an inspiration to live the Christian life with vibrancy to the glory of God. May his courage embolden each of us in the difficult days ahead. When the days grow dark, persecutions escalate, and our freedoms begin to erode, may we remember the motto still etched in Genevan stone, “post tenebras lux,” after darkness light. May his humility, contrition, and trembling before the Word of God mark our lives as well. And may the contemporary pulpit be a reflection of Calvin’s pulpit. May men of God stand behind the sacred desk faithfully deliver the unchanging truths of Scripture so that saints might be strengthened, edified, convicted, encouraged, and equipped!

Calvin agrees, “Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan’s reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose, thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the Word of God.”

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