Insights from Greg Laurie on the most important character traits for young leaders to cultivate in their lives—traits that good mentors model.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of Harvest America as well as Young Influencers Mentoring Day with Greg Laurie.
Greg Laurie is a godly and gifted evangelist who has been used by God to share the gospel with literally millions of people around the world. He came to Christ during the “Jesus Movement” and has been proclaiming Christ powerfully ever since. His burden now is to encourage another great awakening and revival among young people today. My day with him and around 60 other young leaders was inspiring and motivating to continue pursuing God for revival in our nation and world.
As we sat around eating at Babe’s Chicken in Dallas, Greg shared story after story of God moving in our nation and the desperate need for us to spread the gospel. He shared about past revivals and spiritual awakenings in the hopes of inspiring us to pursue a great work of God in our generation. He quoted Malachi O’Brien by saying “Revival fame spreads revival flame.” Greg’s hope is to share stories of revival to help ignite a fire for prayer and evangelism. His upcoming book Jesus Revolution will share about the Jesus movement and how we can ask God for a fresh work of his Spirit in our generation. We spent time together calling out to God to revive us and to do a mighty work among God’s people in this nation.
During our time with Greg, he emphasized three primary character qualities we must focus on if we are going to be fruitful and leverage our influence for God’s glory.
The primary character quality that Greg emphasized was the need for us as young influencers to grow in humility. He recounted how he has watched too many up and coming leaders be taken out by pride. Pride has a blinding effect that makes you resistant to the correction that God and wise leaders could give you. Pride is an offense to a Holy God who deserves all the praise and glory who will not share his glory with anyone. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isa. 42:8).
Greg stressed the importance of being connected and accountable the leaders of a local church and godly wise mentors who can encourage you as well as correct you when you start to steer off course. No matter how zealous or gifted you are if you are not humble then you are prone to be deceived and get into all kinds of messes and likely blow up your entire ministry. Being gifted is not the same thing as having character. Being gifted will open opportunities to serve but having godly character will set you up for a lifetime of fruitful ministry. A young leader is only as good as the godly mentors that he has around him.
Greg frequently mentioned the advice and example of his mentor Billy Graham. He mentioned him so much that he started to apologize for how often he quoted him! He talked about how he learned to remain humble and to treat every individual as if they were the most important person in the world from Billy. Even though Billy Graham was world famous and preached to millions of people he was always down to earth and had a sincere way of loving everyone he came into contact with. He said the more you knew Billy Graham the more you respected him. How impressive he was in preaching publicly was only trumped by his character and humility in private.
Part of being humble is seeking to grow as an aggressive learner. The primary source of learning must be God’s word. It is crucial that young Christian leaders are people who are saturated with scripture. Young leaders must know God’s word better than any trend or social media strategy. They must learn how to hear from God and how commune with him on a daily basis. Malachi O’Brien who was at the event also puts it this way “Authority flows from intimacy.” Your time with God empowers you to serve people. A daily serious time of Bible reading and passionate prayer is essential for anyone hoping to be used by God in seeing lives change.
“If you want to finish well you have to start well. Are you building a biblical foundation for your life and ministry? Learn to think biblically not emotionally.” —Greg Laurie
Greg has encountered his share of criticism and praise for the work he is doing. He encouraged us not to ride the roller coaster that is the praise of man but to focus on doing what pleases The Lord and see the opinions of people as secondary.
“Beware of letting criticism get to your heart or letting success get to your head. Don’t believe your own press. You are just a tool being used by The Lord to accomplish his purposes.” —Greg Laurie
“At the end of your life, God isn’t going to say, ‘Well done good and famous servant’ or ‘Well done good and successful servant’. He’s going to say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant’. The question is: Are we being faithful?” —Greg Laurie
The next character quality Greg emphasized was the need for us to grow in our responsibility. To be diligent stewards of the gifts that God has entrusted us. He challenged us to do whatever we could to leverage our influence to advance the gospel
He emphasized the importance of honoring The Lord even in “little things” of life including staying pure in our thought life and being on guard against greed. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16:10).
He challenged us to be diligent and faithful with our opportunities while they were relatively small. If don’t we pass the tests The Lord is allowing in our lives currently God may not bless us with greater opportunities.
To those of us who had families and kids he encouraged us to create sustainable rhythms of ministry with seasons of pushing and seasons of rest. He also encouraged us to involve our families in our work as much as possible. Greg Laurie’s wife, son and daughter in law where at the meeting and they shared how meaningful it was to be fully involved in the work Greg was doing. This caused them to draw closer together as a family as opposed to further apart. When you seek God’s kingdom first together he will cause your relationships to thrive not to suffer. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).
One area Greg cautioned us was in the area of how we use our words. The group of influencers at the meeting had a combined social media reach of 30 million people! He encouraged us to “Be quick to listen and slow to tweet. Think before you tweet (James 1:19).” He told how he often first sends a text to a respected friend if he is wanting to send out a snarky or edgy tweet. This friend may encourage him not to post it or says go for it. In our world even a temporary lapse in judgment can result in serious consequences. Even if you delete a social media post someone can take a screen shot of it and share it around the world instantly. Young leaders must be extremely cautious about what words we are publishing.
“Jesus could come back any moment. What if Christ were coming back tonight? How would that change the way you are living today?” —Greg Laurie
Greg had an obvious passion and urgency about him as he shared with us about the desperate need to share the gospel with those around the world! He shared stories of celebrities that he knew who committed suicide and how suicide in our countries has increased exponentially in the last few years. He also shared the tremendous opportunity to spread the gospel through technology and online influence. More people have access to high speed internet than clean water! This generation has the opportunity to share the gospel using technology literally to the most remote parts of the earth. Our goal must be to use whatever means possible to fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime.
Greg pleaded with us to not only use our platforms to build up believers but to seek to reach those without Christ. There is a large number of Christian leaders fighting over the ability to influence Christians and someone can have a life time of “successful” ministry career without reaching those without Christ. Greg challenged us to consider how we can not only use our gifts to build up the body of Christ but to leverage our lives to help those outside the kingdom hear the gospel.
“As Christ followers our goal is not to isolate from society but to infiltrate and permeate society.” —Greg Laurie
Greg called us to unashamed and to clearly proclaim the gospel whenever God gives the opportunity. To make sharing the gospel is the focus of our lives and ministries. He challenged us to courageously share the gospel and to never apologize for it. To trust God’s Word to transform people hearts. Greg’s messages are clear and courageous explanations of scripture and the gospel message. Greg encouraged us to take Charles Spurgeon’s philosophy of speaking: “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”
“The gospel always works! Never move on from proclaiming the cross and the blood of Jesus because that is where the power is (Rom. 1:16).” —Greg Laurie
In addition to sharing the gospel boldly and broadly Greg challenged us to grow in our prayer lives. He told stories of how every great revival was birthed by people of urgent and passionate prayer. He challenged us to study revival history and to learn all we can from those who have gone before us in great movements of God. One of the defining characteristics of every person used by God in revival was a powerful prayer life.
“You can’t organize your way to revival but you can agonize in prayer that God will send one.” —Greg Laurie
One of the most fascinating things Greg shared with us was the intense spiritual attack he undergoes when he is building up for an evangelistic event. Inevitably family and people on his team get sick, issues with the technology or details of the event seek to distract and even threats have been made on his life. He also experiences intense emotional highs and lows building up the event and sometimes as he proclaimed the gospel it feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The key is to pray and get others praying and know that means the enemy is worried and then to press forward in faith despite his feelings. We shouldn’t be surprised when all hell breaks lose as we are advancing against the gates of hell.
Greg actually gets more worried when there is no opposition to an event. He knows that when God is working and the gospel is going to be shared to the lost when the enemy is seeking to distract and discourage however he can. Through each trial our dependence on Christ grows as he comes through and many people are brought into the kingdom. Even though evangelistic ministry is one of the most difficult assignments it is also the most rewarding knowing lives are changed for eternity. All the suffering and stress is worth it for one person to come to know The Lord. “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Tim. 2:10). The gospel is always advanced through people who are willing to pay whatever price to share the hope that Jesus offers to those who desperately need it.
This inspired me to continue leveraging my life to do whatever it takes to see as many people as possible come to know Christ! I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn from this wise and zealous man of God. I pray that all of us younger leaders will continue seeking to learn all we can from those who have gone before us and set an example for us to follow. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7). I pray that my life will have a fraction of the impact that Greg has. I don’t say that lightly because I know how high a price it will be to be used by God like that but I know that the reward of changed lives will be worth it.
Paul Worcester is founder and director of Christian Challenge at Chico State University in Chico, California. Paul helps lead Collegiate Collective and Campus Ministry Today and is the author of the free eBook Tips for Starting A College Ministry. This article originally appeared on Thinke.org.