Not Your Grandmother’s Lumbago

Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken

With friends like us the cross hardly needs enemies, although it has many.  Think of how we distort the cross. Many of us probably heard our grandmothers say, “My lumbago is killing me.  It’s my cross.  I must bear it.”  Right then, before we knew what the cross was, we knew we didn’t want one if it made us feel the way Grandma felt. Or it’s presented to us as some horrible struggle we must endure because we follow Jesus. Now it’s true that the cross can mean rejection and persecution for the cause of Christ, but there’s more to it than that…

The cross is the place where God reconciled His holiness and His mercy, His justice and His grace, the place where He acted to deliver us from judgment, sin, and shame.  It’s a place of horrible glory, the most beautiful scar on the landscape of history.  In that moment of weakness and impotence as Christ hung on the cross, God demonstrated the greatest power ever seen, the power of redemption.  This is the very same power that comes to us today as it takes us to the place Jesus went:  death, resurrection and a new quality of life.  And it's where we must come if we would have the same quality of life. The cross is the power of God that transforms us into wall breakers. Who doesn’t want that cross?

We hit the wall of inadequacy because we rely on our own power to do what only Jesus can do through us. He never calls us to do what we can do, and we must become desperately dependent on Him to follow and obey Him. We can only become desperately dependent on Him if we say No! to self and Yes! to the cross by turning from self-dependence to cross-dependence.

Right about now you may be are saying, “I already did that and I still struggle with the wall of inadequacy.” I’m sure you did that, but large numbers of Christ followers make the mistake of thinking that taking up the cross is an event.  Once I’ve done it, it’s over and I move on to follow Jesus.  Taking up the cross is not an event; it’s a process that has to be repeated many times in our lives. I took up the cross the first time when I was twelve years old. I knew a little about the wall of inadequacy even then, but not what I was going to know as I became a man, a husband, a pastor, a father, a missions leader, a professor, and a mentor. I have grown since then, but a number of years ago I realized my commitment wasn’t as radical as it once was. My dependence on the cross wasn’t as total as it had been. The cross I took up had not grown at the same pace that I did and I had to go back and take it up in a fresh way at that time. That’s when I realized taking up the cross is not an event, but a process.

Go back to when you took up the cross and take it up once again, not just as an act of commitment to discipleship but also as a practice of radical and desperate dependence on the power of God to get you past the wall of inadequacy. And then follow Jesus in new freshness and joy.

From "Not Your Grandmother's Lumbago" on 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.