Transformed Leader, Transformed Community

Transformed Leader, Transformed Community

Earlier this month, I was asked by Dick Kunnert, a Lead Like Jesus Master Trainer, to speak to a wonderful group of pastors in Rockford, Illinois. Representing multiple congregations from a variety of denominations, this group is united around one mission to “Transform Rockford.”

The vision of Transform Rockford is inspiring. They aspire to offer a superior quality of life for every resident, transforming the community from within by embracing their diversity, fostering a culture of unity, interconnection, inclusion, respect and generosity. 

Remembering a particular passage about a transformed community, I turned to Acts 4:32-35 and read:

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.  There were no needy persons among them. From time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)

I asked myself, “How did this community come to be transformed?” 

That’s the question I pondered while preparing to speak with this amazing group of change agents. I went back to Scripture to find the answer.

I discovered Peter was a central figure in this community. Peter healed a man who had been crippled since birth.  The power brokers told him to stop healing, but Peter said he was supposed to obey God, not men. Those men recognized that Peter was unschooled and ordinary, but they realized he had been with God. 

Who was this Peter?  Was this the same Peter who denied Jesus, the same Peter who had been reinstated after pledging his love to Jesus and given a new mission? Yes, Peter had been transformed! In a matter of weeks, he went from vehemently denying Jesus to proclaiming Him boldly to the world.

My answer to the question was that the community came to be transformed through the power of one leader who had been transformed.

4 Lessons from Peter

In Peter’s story, we learn four truths that can help any of us make a greater impact, wherever our sphere of influence.

1. Peter believed in Jesus.

In John 21, we read of a time when Jesus revealed Himself to Peter and the disciples shortly after His resurrection. The disciples were fishing, when Jesus called from the shore to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.

Peter knew that voice, and the power behind it. After pulling in their nets overflowing with fish, the Bible says that Peter jumped into the water fully clothed and swam as fast as he could to Jesus. There was no longer any doubt in in Peter’s mind who Jesus was, or what He was capable of doing. Peter was all in – literally and figuratively – because He believed wholeheartedly in the power of Jesus.

2. Peter experienced intimacy with Jesus.

Upon reaching the shore, Peter spent intimate moments in conversation with Jesus. Jesus looked Peter straight in the eyes, and into the deepest parts of his heart.

Those moments were precious, though uncomfortable. Jesus wasn’t interested in small talk. John tells us, “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’” (John 21:17).

Jesus saw Peter as he was – but He also saw the potential. And it was in those intimate moments with Jesus that Peter realized his calling.

3. Peter learned to trust Jesus with the details.

Jesus gave Peter an overview of what he was called to do and a loving glimpse into the difficult road ahead. Still working through his Type A tendencies, Peter then tried to get the inside scoop from Jesus about the other disciples.

“What about him?” Peter asked about John. Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22)

“Follow me.” It was one of the first things Jesus said to Peter and now one of the last. And Peter did. From that day forward, he simply followed, trusting Jesus to take care of the details along the way.

4. Peter was obedient to what Jesus had called him to do.

Peter’s final conversation with Jesus was more than a beautiful memory he would occasionally look back on fondly. No, he interpreted Jesus’ words as a call to action.

Jesus gave Peter two guiding principles that would ultimately define Peter’s ministry: “Follow me,” and “Feed my sheep.” Throughout the Book of Acts and in his letters to the early church, we see clear evidence that Peter did just that. And because of his obedience, the world would never be the same.

Can a community be transformed? Absolutely. But it takes the influence of leaders who have been transformed.

My prayer is that we will be so transformed by Jesus, that we can’t help but show Him to the world. When we do, our homes, our workplaces and our communities will be forever changed.



Phyllis Hendry Halverson

Phyllis Hendry Halverson serves as the inaugural President and CEO of Lead Like Jesus, a global leadership development ministry. Under her visionary leadership, the organization has grown exponentially since its founding in 1999, equipping and empowering thousands of people throughout the United States and around the world to lead as Jesus led. Phyllis radiates passion, warmth, authenticity and wit in every presentation, and as a result, she is a highly sought after speaker, regularly travelling across the U.S. and around the world. Prior to joining Lead Like Jesus, she served for 11 years as President of the National Science Center, Inc., in Augusta, a partnership with the United States Army. Phyllis enjoys spending time with her four children and nine grandchildren.  

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