By Dr. Teresa Hairston
â€œWe are the sum total of what people impart into our lives that we choose to make a part of our lives. Those men ministered to me and I incorporated the things they taught me into my life, so when you look at me, you\’re seeing a lot of other people who helped me get where I am.â€
Unbeknownst to Hilliard at the time, his tutelage was at the hands of some of the greatest trailblazers in the Gospel. However, the defining experience that would shape his future occurred at a church growth conferenceâ€”at a time when his ministry was not growing!
â€œPhil Jackson paid for me to go to a church growth conference. I didn\’t have the money to go. While sitting there, God spoke to me and said, â€œI\’m going to raise your ministry up. People are going to come from far and near to learn church growth principles from you! And, like Sarah, I laughed; but I wrote it down, and about 10 or 12 years later, I shared it with my board. By this time, my ministry had exploded. The reason was that when God told me I was going to teach church growth principles, I started studying church growth principles to prepare for that day. So, as I began to prepare and apply the principles, my church grew.â€
Nearly a decade later, in 1995, Bishop Hilliard hosted a national church growth conference. He says he only intended to do one conference, but 16 years later, upwards of 7,000 leaders are flocking to Houston annually to gain wisdom from him. (His next leadership conference will be October 19-22, 2010).
â€œBeyond his gruff and tough exterior is a man who has â€œgone throughâ€ and â€œgrown throughâ€ some of life\’s most bitter challenges; and the result is a man who refused to give upâ€”a gladiator of the faith.
Bishop Hilliard is a leader\’s leader; and in this season, his wisdom principles are noteworthy. When asked, â€œWhat are the top three principles for successful leadership?â€ he responded:
1. Faithfulness. You must be faithful to what God has assigned you to do. You must be faithful to the principles of loyalty and integrity. If you are faithful to those things, that means you will be faithful to people, because God loves people. Leaders forget that Jesus died for people and we serve people.
2. Faith. The promises of God are received by faith; but God cannot just do anything. The order of God is that He has to be invited in and we have to participate in His plan for His will to come to pass. Until I learned the principles of faith, I was frustrated because things weren\’t happening in my ministry.
For every promise of God, there is a faith process that brings that promise to pass. If we don\’t understand that process, even though we speak the Word of God over our lives, that promise will not come to pass. It is the faith mechanics that produce results!
Faith Mechanics…In Mark 11:22-25, Jesus teaches us what I call â€œthe abc\’s of Faith.â€ He teaches us how the system of faith works.
A. Ask: We must ask according to the will of the Father in Jesus\’ name.
B. Believe: He teaches us how to believe. The Bible says, â€˜I have to believe that I receive at the moment I pray.\’
C. Confession: The Bible says we have to speak â€œfaith filledâ€ words. Mark 11:23 says, â€œFor assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, â€˜Be removed and be cast into the sea,\’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.â€
D. Demonstration: We must act in agreement with what we say. We must act in agreement with the promise of God that we know; we must go as far as our integrity will take us.
E. Expectations: There are five expectations when exercising â€œfaith mechanics.â€
For God to show up (1) with a plan of action; (2) with wisdom for your situation; (3) with favorâ€”someone with power and influence will help you; (4) with a miracleâ€” although you may not know how or when the miracle will happen you do know that God works miracles; and (5) with strength to endure until change comes, because faith is not magic.
3. Focus. A lot of leaders lose focus, either through arrogance or ambition. The root of jealousy and envy in the body of Christ is loss of focus. We\’ve got to be able to appreciate our individual assignments while applauding others in their assignments. For example: I don\’t need to blow your light out for my light to shine. If I stay focused, I can stay content. When I start comparing, I become discontent. When I stay focused, I don\’t look over to what appears to be greener grass and try to copy another person\’s assignment. I can stay in the perfect will of God and hold my course and watch God bless me.
Bishop Hilliard\’s leadership legacy has already touched millions through various ministry and media platforms. The foundation of his life and ministry is a heart to help others. He\’s the first to admit that it hasn\’t been easy and he\’s endured his share of critics, but he is tenacious in his purpose.
â€œOur ministries don\’t exist for our comfort,â€ he confirms. â€œThey are to serve othersâ€”the people in the community that are hurting and withoutâ€”we\’re there to serve them.â€ And the plan is to continue!