Q: Holly, if you were to give all the leaders inside YFC an exhortation, what would it be?

A: Well, I can’t speak to everyone in YFC, but I can speak to my own heart. I know that I love doing what I am good at! But that has to be balanced with being filled with the Spirit. We can be operating in the carnal flesh within seconds of when we are being Spirit-filled. At least I can. These past three days, I have had an edgy feeling about me. And this morning, I am talking to God, and He is like, “Holly, you have been with my Word, but you haven’t been with me.” I just fell on my face before Him.

I was drawn back to a book I am reading by Andrew Murray. Murray talks about how few Christians are Spirit-filled believers. I, too, think, “I can say the right things and even do part of the right things, but if I am not really at my master’s feet, I am not being the person I need to be.” That’s the tough part about shepherding.  It’s not about doing as a shepherd, but being as a shepherd.

Q: So how do we be great leaders in this movement?

A: I have great respect for many people who have thought deeply about what it means to be godly, Christian leaders. One of those people is Ken Blanchard. In his book, Lead Like Jesus, he explores the habits that Jesus exhibited in his daily life: having a solid prayer life, practicing solitude, knowing the Scripture, accepting the love from the Father, showering that love onto others, and maintaining supportive and intimate relationships. I had a great opportunity to chat with Ken a few months ago, and I told him about a journey I have been on where I realized there was one thing that Jesus never had to do--confession. In my world, confession of sins has radically changed me; it’s been a major part of my journey to be more Spirit-filled.

Q: So then, let me rephrase that last question: “How do we, as leaders, be the Spirit-filled believers who happen to lead in YFC?”

A: Be on your knees before the Father. We each have got to spend some significant time in deep confession. I have found this to be paramount in my journey with Jesus. A few years ago, some other women and I really set out on a journey of trying to figure out this whole women leading in the church thing.  I was really struggling because I felt like God gave me this gift, and I wasn’t able or supposed to use it. Anyway, one of the women ended up heading to Fuller to get her MDIV, and she sent me St. Augustine’s prayer book. To a good Protestant girl, this is way outside the norm, but it absolutely changed me. I told the friend later that that book changed my life, and she thanked me, but I had to tell her: “No really, this book has changed my life.”

St. Augustine goes through each of the seven deadly sins, and it will bring you to your knees. Let’s just look at what it says about pride:

“Pride is manifested as: Irreverence.

  •  Deliberate neglect of the worship of God every Sunday in his church or being content with a perfunctory participation in it.
  • Disregard of other holy days or of additional opportunities for giving God honor.  …
  • Being satisfied with pious feelings and beautiful ceremonies without striving to obey God’s will.
  • Satisfaction or complacency over our spiritual achievements …
  • Refusal to avoid, whenever possible, immediate occasions of temptation.
  • Preference for our ideas, customs, schemes, or techniques …“

I mean, you spend a few minutes reflecting on this, and you will find yourself in a deep, desperate need for repentance.
Think about this fact: We can’t even have a personal relationship with Jesus without confession. We have got to be in self-examination on a daily, I mean like, every minute, type of basis.

Q: How have you seen this play out in your own life?

A: I don’t do this perfectly or well; I have to check my heart. I mentioned earlier that I was having a few rough days in my heart, and I realized I just have to take St. Augustine’s book in front of me, get on my elliptical, spend time in prayer, and it leads me straight to confession.

Here’s another example. So there’s this radio voice that I have heard for years and years, and I just felt like this person was fake. I mean, “Do people really talk like that?” I told myself. Anyway, I was really down on this person. Well, in God’s world of leading me to confession, guess what I ended up doing? A devotional at the organization where this person serves. So there I am literally shoulder-to-shoulder with this person I have come to dislike, and I realize in that process that it’s me. This person loves God and serves Him well, but my pride was in the way. A sense of jealousy had invaded my heart and that led to pride. Eventually God confronted me with my sin of pride by giving me this great insight into that person’s life.

O Holly, holly, the sin in your heart. The pride. The jealousy. God will reveal. We need to confess and live a Spirit-filled life connected to Jesus.

Holly Culhane serves on the national board of YFCUSA. She serves at P A S in Bakersfield, California  a human resources consulting firm that she founded.

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