THE WHOLE-HEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 2: INTIMACY
The Inner Circle
God loves us all unconditionally. And yet, our Lord Jesus when He walked the earth had levels of intimacy.
Jesus’ inner circles
Jesus was surrounded by hordes of people, but He had a smaller, more intimate ring of men and women. They traveled with Him and received teachings and prophesies Jesus did not share with the masses. They saw miracles (like walking on water and calming the storm) that others did not see. Jesus chose the twelve apostles, giving them authority over unclean spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 10).
Several women also traveled with Jesus. When most of the male disciples fled, these women followed Jesus to the cross and to the grave, and they were the first witnesses of His resurrection.
Within His inner circle, Jesus had the innermost three – Peter, James, and John. These three were called to higher levels of leadership, so Jesus revealed more to them. They were at the Mount of Transfiguration. They saw Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead. John recorded Jesus’ innermost prayers that are not found anywhere else in the Gospels. At the last supper, because John was the one leaning on Jesus’ breast, Peter is asking John, “Hey, ask Jesus who it might be that’s going to betray Him.” They were all huddling around the table, but John was the closest.
Who is in your inner ring?
I want you to take a piece of paper and put a dot in the middle of the paper: that represents you. Now, draw a circle around that dot. That is your innermost circle – you and God together – no one else knows you like He does. You have a level of intimacy and transparency because you can’t hide anything from God. He knows it all already! And yet, He wants dialog with us – that’s our God!
Now, outside that first circle, draw another little ring around that – that’s going to be your inner circle – your super-close friends and family members that you can share pretty much anything and everything with. Very few people will be in that ring. For some people, just one or even none. Within that ring, write down the first names of people who are closest to you.
Your inner circle probably includes your spouse if you’re married. In Scripture – that word know – when Adam knew Eve – that was a level of intimacy that was actually describing sexual and physical intimacy. They knew one another completely, right? That’s one of the most intimate things that we can do. That’s why it’s so important that we guard it.
Now, you’re going to draw another ring that includes your close friends and family. And then another ring – so that you have four or five rings, and it looks like a target. Every single ring becomes a boundary line that you’re setting for intimacy levels. You have your closest friends and family, and then you have friends and acquaintances that you don’t know as well.
Healthy boundaries versus defense mechanisms and walls
Being able to be very intimate, baring your soul with somebody, being able to open yourself up to somebody, is so important, but you must have healthy boundaries in order to do that. With God, there’s no hiding anything. But with people, we have defense mechanisms, when the guardian part of our heart begins to create a wall. And, if you have at least one or two people in your inner-most circle, that’s healthy. You don’t have to let everybody in. But you don’t want to block everyone out either. And we really don’t need to ever do that with God. And yet, sometimes there’s a part of our heart that will do that. Even unintentionally.
We need revelation, not just information
Growing in intimacy with God is so key to being a whole-hearted leader. You can know and love and follow the Lord for thirty or forty years and have a lot of head information. I can read books and books and books about a certain celebrity, and I might know a lot of details and information in my mind. But I don’t have a relationship with them – just superficial knowledge. It’s so important that we don’t just have information, but that we have revelation, deep within our heart, of who God really is.
Understanding God’s identity helps us discover our own identity
Knowing the identity of God Himself helps us to discover our identity. Moses was a friend of God – he really knew God in an intimate way – he knew God’s heart, His character, who He really is. And, through that intimacy, Moses discovered his true identity – not a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, not a shepherd, but a friend of God. And out of that intimacy, God could work through Moses to be the whole-hearted leader of the people of Israel.
The first truth of God’s character you must accept is that God is good. This truth has to be seared into your mind, because that will be the first thing that the enemy will try to convince you — that He’s not. Your confidence in God’s goodness can only come from intimacy – like a small child resting on his mother’s breast, confidently secure in His embrace.
In this place of intimacy, He knows everything, and yet, He wants me to share my requests with Him. He wants me to praise. He wants me to have conversations with Him. He wants me to listen. He wants me to hear Him. He wants me to have constant conversation.
True anointing flows out of intimacy with God
When we really know how to steward this place with God, where we’re in His presence, everything flows out of that. Anointing is the very raw power of the grace of God. You can have a gift and a calling on your life, but true anointing is going to flow out of intimacy with the Lord, because you’re a friend of God.
He’s already described you as that – as a friend. He’s already said it. Jesus said to the disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because servants don’t know their master’s plans. But I’ve revealed Myself to you. And so I call you friends.” And we too are friends of God, because what Jesus revealed to the disciples has been revealed to us.
And, it’s out of cultivating intimacy within that friendship with God – of abiding in His presence – that we receive anointing and become whole-hearted leaders.
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