We lose our power as Christian leaders when we think as “leaders of people” before we think as “children of God.” We must posture ourselves first as sons and daughters of God, not as rulers and bosses. If we lead others without following Him, we are not leading well and who knows where we are leading? We must not forget that our fundamental identity is child and not boss. J.I. Packer wrote in his classic book, “Knowing God:”
“What is a Christian? The question can be answered in many ways, but the richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as Father…If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father.”
To remind us of this great reality, the apostle Paul wrote:
For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. [Romans 8:14-17]
As adopted children of God, we enjoy four incredible benefits that should continually impact our perspective and our posture.
1. He leads us.
“All those led by His Spirit…” Being a Christian is not getting God to follow us around in our plans. Being a Christian is joyfully following Him in His plans. Waking up and asking God to bless our plans is very different than waking up and seeking to follow His. His plans are always better anyway. There is no better One to follow than Him.
2. He hears us.
“We cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’” How foolish it is for us to forget that our Father longs to hear us. Jesus, while He walked this earth, called God the Father “Abba,” and we can too. The apostle Paul used that word in Romans 8 (the only word in the chapter that is not Greek in the original language), to show we can enjoy the same intimacy with the Father that Jesus enjoyed.
3. He assures us.
We are always looking for assurances that “we are good” relationally with others, that our decisions are wise, and that our direction is solid. It is such good news that “the Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.” The Holy Spirit is constantly reminding you, “You are mine. I love you. You can cry out to me anytime. I am always with you.”
4. He shares His inheritance with us.
We are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” No matter the results of our work in this life and no matter the size of the inheritance that our earthly fathers leave for us, all of it pales in comparison to the magnitude of the inheritance we receive from being children of God. We don’t have to live with an earning posture today. We are His.