My wife and I are less than a year away from an empty nest. We’ve known it was coming, but as every “last” crosses our calendar – last parent/teacher night, last high school football game, last school musical, last spirit week – there is a bittersweet reminder that a rich and meaningful season of life is in transition.

As we look toward my youngest’s high school graduation, I have been wrestling with the personal stories and life-lessons I want to make sure he takes with him when he heads to Taylor University in the fall. We are intentionally talking about everything from the Gospel and global missions, to managing finances and how to treat women. But as I’ve watched his gifts and self-confidence explode over the last few years, there is one warning I want to embed deep in his psyche:

We can go a long way on charisma, talent, and leadership chops, but the fuel of a robust and lasting Christian life is a daily dependence on Christ. Our greatest skillset as followers of Jesus is realizing our constant need of Him.

A gut-wrenching number of admired Christian leaders have crashed and burned in recent years. Listing them all here would make this newsletter far too long. That doesn’t make me feel more pious, it actually scares me to death. In our “platform” based world, it is easier than ever for our influence to outpace our character.

As our gifts expand, as we find little wins and bigger successes, our flesh instinctively begins to trust and depend on itself. After all, we’ve been here before and we know what we can do. The wise leader learns to abide in Christ, not rest on his laurels.

As I share these life lessons with my son, I’m sharing them with myself again. And now I’m sharing them with you, too. The secret to long-haul “success” in life is a daily dependence on Jesus. I’ll leave you with a quote from my friend Dick Brogden in his book Proverbs: Amplified and Applied:

“The clever and charismatic who make friends and gain advantage by force of personality not backed by strength of character will fall. Wisdom does not allow charisma to outstrip character.”

Let’s stay close to Jesus my friends.

Accelerating the Great Commission through the Marketplace,

Erik Cooper | The Stone Table