In our recent Remembrance Day ceremonies, we recognize that many of the war’s leaders emerged under fire from necessity. Not often enough, we recognize that many of the church’s leaders arise from the reality of the spiritual warfare we are involved in. In our November Leadership Forum we will be envisioning the importance of younger leaders rising up to embrace the future movement and impact of the church.
One of the standard works of leadership is Henry and Richard Blackaby’s Spiritual Leadership. The premise of their book is that spiritual leadership means moving people onto God’s agenda. This is a book which the members of our board of governors is working our way through.
The task of a spiritual leader involves the following at Faith and anywhere else where God’s men and women step up to this responsibility.
Spiritual leaders move people through influence to pursue God’s purposes. We are on a journey together toward the destination God has designed for his people. Change is an inevitable part of being in God’s family. It affects our attitudes and behaviours and requires us to exemplify the pattern and lifestyle for the vision we are embracing. Not everyone likes change but leaders need to learn to thrive in the midst of it. The church is continually handing off the keys to decision making to the next generations and that requires a humble trust with what the Holy Spirit is doing through those who walk beside and behind us.
Spiritual leaders use spiritual methods to move people and soon realize they are trying to accomplish spiritual change in people which only God can accomplish. Someone has wisely said, “Pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on you.” God’s agenda for his church is often much larger than anything we can ask or imagine.
Spiritual leaders are accountable to God and this means that leaders don’t make excuses when their attempts to influence God’s people fall short. The leader is not successful until he has moved others onto God’s agenda. A leader can easily fill a position or role without accomplishing their purpose to move others onto God’s agenda. Faithfulness and fruitfulness are both essential.
Spiritual leaders focus on people even when having to consider budgets, visions and strategies. With so many introverts rising to influential positions it is important to recognize that leadership is not always a comfortable role. Leaders move toward people and with people and for people. When you sense yourself withdrawing or withholding it is wise to review the factors impacting your personality and action. It is ideal to enjoy people as those made in God’s image and as those whom Christ has called into partnership to finish the good work he began.
Spiritual leaders expand their influence over people beyond the borders of the church. Together, we are designed and purposed to reach out into the communities of our world. No matter what profession or place of work, God’s Spirit desires to reach and impact the lives who work there. Our significant influence nudges people toward God. Blackaby notes that “history is replete with examples of Christian men and women exerting spiritual leadership upon secular society.” He notes the examples of William Wilberforce in the abolition of slavery and cites Joseph’s role in setting up a grain distribution system to take Egypt through the famine years. Christ followers are invested in significant roles all around this planet.
Spiritual leaders find the foundation of their work in God’s agenda rather than in their own. “His purpose is to turn his people away from their self-centeredness and obsession with temporal, material concerns and to draw them into a relationship with himself so they are his instruments for accomplishing his purposes.” (p. 40) We often envision something we can control and manage whereas God is building something only he controls. We can develop “aggressive goals”, “grandiose dreams”, and “grand visions”, and then ask God to bless the work of our hands but this is not our role. We seek God’s will and agenda.
7. Spiritual leaders must be oriented toward God’s voice so they can hear and follow him. Developing a vibrant, dynamic relationship with the living God is vital before any good thing can be accomplished. Jesus is the perfect model of the spiritual leader and studying and imitating his life is a good start for understanding how to understand God’s agenda and how to influence others toward that agenda.
For Faith’s family, we understand that God is making multi-cultural, multi-generational disciples from all nations. Focusing on how we can do this together is the vision we continually embrace and follow. May God give you strength to lead in your area of influence and may you always know that you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack