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Hauser: When Jesus told his disciples they were to be salt, light

Jon Hauser, religion columnist

A man named Matthew, who lived when Jesus did, wrote about the most famous sermon Jesus taught, called the Sermon on the Mount. Large crowds started gathering wherever Jesus went as he taught, encouraged, physically healed and helped people in a way very different than any other religious teacher of his day.

In today's world, if a public figure, performing artist or YouTube sensation begins drawing large crowds we are taught to leverage the opportunity, build your brand and increase your name recognition. Jesus did the opposite. He withdrew from the crowds, went up on a mountainside and taught his disciples; his inner circle.

He first taught them the importance of attitudes and how attitudes influence actions and actions determine outcomes. Then he gave his disciples and future followers an extraordinary purpose for their life. Jesus told his disciples they were to be salt and light.

Salt is an influencer. Take a warm piece of apple pie with melting vanilla ice cream and sprinkle salt on it. You just influenced the dessert, for the worse. But, some salt sprinkled on corn-on-the-cob, mashed potatoes and gravy, or a freshly cut tomato tastes great. Salt is also a preservative. Jesus knew the world would always be a place of sin, decay and hurt, and when people are surrounded and immersed in it, decay can happen without anyone noticing. So, Jesus said I must have leaders (influencers) right in the middle of it all.

Light gives hope and direction. Jesus knew that people would struggle with addictions, materialism, fear, insecurities and chasing empty pursuits. So, Jesus knew there was a great need for leaders, who were following God's way instead of their way, to be a light that shines the way for people in need.

When Jesus saw crowds starting to form he knew that he must train and equip leaders; Godly, effective leaders who would be salt and light; leaders who would be passionate, purposeful, courageous and determined to start and finish the race all the way to the end. By the time the sermon ended, large crowds had gathered once again. And later, when Jesus saw the growing crowds and their dire needs he had compassion on them and said, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

I am 100 percent convinced the greatest need in North Dakota is not social systems, political policy, economic escalation in oil or commodity pricing, or even educational excellence. While each of these is important, the greatest need in North Dakota is Godly, effective leaders grounded in and humbly following our Creator.

This is why, from day one in 2001, a major goal at Prairie Heights was to someday be the premier organization in the Red River Valley at training leaders. Leadership really matters. Let's go together to the next level as leaders. Our world needs you!

God bless you. See you next Sunday!

Hauser is founding and senior pastor, Prairie Heights of Fargo Moorhead. Email