Last Things First


Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken

The Great Commission was the last words Jesus said, but it was among the first thoughts in His mind as He began His ministry.

Why was it that one of the first actions He took was to choose disciples (Mt. 4:18-22) if He did not have a purpose in mind for them? He certainly did not intend to spend the better part of three years preparing followers for nothing…

And why did He persevere so relentlessly with them when they rejected His message and thought like Satan (Mark 8:33) or created more confusion than clarity when a father sought their help for his demonized son (Mt 17:24-23) or slept in one of His deepest moments of need (Mt. 26:36-46)?

The last thing He said was among the first aims He had.

Yet it appears that many think the Great Commission was an after thought, something Jesus must have tacked on to His ministry at the last minute.  I say it appears that way because it is typically labeled evangelism in many churches and listed in a third-level box in the organizational chart, totally lost in the mass of the programs.

The Great Commission was not an after thought for Jesus; it was a forethought for Him, central to all He did.

This is why He directed us to make disciples as His central command for all of time. With this command and the actions that accomplish it—going, baptizing, teaching— Jesus shows that making disciples is not just evangelism but our entire lifestyle for as long as we live.

No one is ever discipled, even after someone has come to him and initiated him into the life in Christ because no one ever knows enough to say, “I have been taught.” Learning is a lifetime discipline because with each new stage of life right up to death, there is always more for us to learn than we can grasp. The Great Commission is the beating heart of any vibrant Christian institution, the energy that carries the church across generations and through cultural barriers during all of time from the mountain in Galilee until our Lord’s return

What does this have to do with the Beatitudes? Everything.

It takes the Beatitudes Attitude to accomplish the Great Commission. Ultimately those who will go the furthest in pursuing the Great Commission are those who know they are spiritually bankrupt, who know how destructive their sin has been in the lives of those they love, who are radically submissive to Christ and who are starving for the righteousness that creates right relationships.

They are the ones who are so grateful to Christ that they are willing to pay any price they must to reach others, even the price of rejection and persecution. They are also the ones who are most attractive to others around them who know nothing of Jesus except what they see in their Beatitudes neighbors.

The last words Jesus told us were contained in seed form in the first words He said to us. The Beatitudes Attitude is the most powerful way we can accomplish the Great Commission in our generation.

For this reason we must give ourselves to the Beatitudes Attitude: passionately pursuing Christlikeness through desperate dependence on Him.

From "The Beatitudes Attitude: Last Things First" on  The Broken Leadership Blog is about changing the leadership conversation from what we are doing with our hands to what God is doing through our hearts.


Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.