Even at first glance, his eyes told a story. It was a story of deep pain, suffering and betrayal. Our conversation quickly revealed the depth of this initial impression. Sitting before me was a man who radiated an intense compassion and kindness. One that that had been shaped through years of suffering. He was a man that I instinctively trusted. He was broken. Yet his brokenness was strangely soothing and attractive. It spoke healing to my soul. It brought a strange soothing calm to my own pain and problems.
I listened intently to his story. There was a time he faced a fork in the road and he was tempted to choose the road of bitterness. He wanted badly to be angry with God and the world. He had every reason. Many of the wounds he described came from the church. Many were inflicted by the leaders he trusted. Yet, he chose the road of surrender, forgiveness and compassion. He kept this course even when his daughter was killed, he lost his house and his wife became ill with a debilitating disease. This man carried a deep authority – the authority of brokenness. His very presence in the room ushered in God’s healing power. He is a living example of God working through our brokenness to bring healing to the brokenness of others.
The world is deeply and profoundly broken. The world is desperately yearning for leadership – the kind of leaders that will bring healing to their brokenness. These leaders are unfortunately not always found in our temples, pulpits or seminaries. Our professional leaders are too often consumed with dogma, doctrine, fame and the appearance of perfection. The leaders we need are not amongst the ‘shiny people’. No, the leaders we need are in the midst of the broken. They are often deeply broken themselves. The Kingdom of heaven is a movement of the broken led by the broken.
It continues to surprise and amaze me when I meet the people whom God is using to change their communities. They are incredibly ordinary. I really dislike the term ‘ordinary people.’ But I have no other term to describe them. Around the globe, God is raising an extraordinary army of ordinary people. This army is emerging from businessmen, housewives, children and retired professionals. Standing among them are the homeless, the destitute, the divorced, the fatherless and convicted criminals. They are the leaders I am meeting. Ordinary people transformed into warriors. They are often theologically unschooled, illiterate and even physically challenged. They are not invited to preach from our pulpits. They do not appear on our bling Christian television shows. They are often outcasts, rejected by society and not recognized by organized Christianity. They are broken, and they are changing the world from the shadows – hidden from view.
‘Ordinary people’ is an all-inclusive term. It recognizes that we are all ordinary, fragile and broken in countless ways. It means that God invites each of us into His work. No one is excluded. It means that the Kingdom of God is advancing through people who may be theologically unschooled, unpaid and unprepared for the task by accepted human standards. It means that God often uses imperfect and flawed people. It levels the playing field and invites everyone to play the game.
I am one of those broken people. In my private moments I am confronted with my deeply flawed nature. God invited me into His mission not because I am clever or gifted but because I was available. He could easily have found someone more intelligent, more gifted and more skilled. But perhaps they were not available. I was. Being available took me around the world and placed me in the middle of His movement.
As I travel and search for movement leaders, I am searching for broken people. I am finding such men and women on every continent. Some felt a deep stirring in their hearts that they could not ignore. Others went through a major life transition and were thrown into crisis. Still others went through severe trauma or a moral failure. God has many ways to get our attention, but it always involves some level of brokenness. He is not the author of the pain. But He is always ready to redeem our brokenness and turn it into something beautiful – something powerful.
The next great movement of God will be led by broken people (or “misfits from the other side of the tracks” as The Message translation puts it).
Three truths have gripped my heart:
- God’s movement is filled with the broken (1 Cor. 1:26-31)
- His Kingdom moves towards brokenness (Luke 4:18-19)
- The anointing to bring Christ’s healing is carried through broken people (2 Cor. 4:7-9)
I am re-discovering the remarkable power of brokenness.