Knowledge and wisdom
Integrity and honesty
Vision and ideas that inspire people
Engaging personality, a person that most people admire and are drawn to
Strength to make tough decisions, and the ability to handle crisis situations
Now, ask the average person if they possess these qualities and they will say no to some or even all of them. It follows in their thinking then, that they are not leaders. “I’m not really cut out for that.” “I’m not really leader material, I’ll help, but don’t put me in charge.”
John Maxwell said that “everything rises and falls on leadership”, and there is a lot of truth to that. Our culture, and in particular our churches and homes, are suffering from a lack of the kind of leadership we really need, spiritual leadership. Not just the top down kind of leadership that most people think about, but the significant role of every Christian to be a spiritual leader to the people around them. The question is what kind of leadership are we giving. Notice, I said giving, not getting. It is easy for everyone to point the finger at the leader, be it the boss, the pastor, the parent, or the president. But not everyone wants to embrace their role as a leader.
“I’m not a leader”… is no excuse for not showing spiritual leadership! Being a spiritual leader, a person who leads others to grow closer to Jesus Christ and deeper in the Spirit has little, or most of the time nothing, to do with a position of leadership. Read that again and remember, spiritual leadership is not about a position or a title, it is about showing the Holy Spirit through your life so that you help others, that is leading others, to grow closer to Jesus Christ and have a positive impact on others growing up in Jesus Christ. What I want to explore today is how each of us can take up our mantle of spiritual leadership.
It seems that the one thing that we have become good at in today’s society is making excuses- it’s my parents fault, it’s society’s fault, it’s the government’s fault, it’s my dogs fault…. anytime something goes wrong, we look to point the finger. Unfortunately that has bled into the church as well. We look at the state of the church today and everyone wants to talk about how bad things have gotten in society, how evil the world is or how anti-Christian the media is, yet we have to heed the words of the apostle Peter…
I Peter 4 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Notice that Peter says that judgment, God’s truthful measure of what is right and wrong, begins with us, His people… not the rest of the world, not the media, not atheists, not muslims. Excuses would point a finger elsewhere, God’s eye however He is looking for each one of us, each follower of Jesus Christ, not to see what our latest excuse is, but to see how each of us are leading spiritually, helping move forward and upward the cause of the Gospel of Christ.
I like Benjamin Franklin’s quote on excuses…
“I have yet to meet a man who is good at making excuses who is good for much of anything else.”
I am fearful that the church has started to fall into the not “good for much of anything else” category. Why? Well, first, its’ not God’s fault! We have a God that is desiring and able to make the church strong, healthy and effective at impacting society. We have a Savior that is able to cleanse the sins of the worst sinner. We have a Spirit that is able to break down every stronghold, overcome every evil and penetrate every heart. We have lots of Christians, lots of church buildings, lots of church services, lots of a lot of things… so why are we not moving forward in the Kingdom of God in our homes, marriages and churches? A lack of leadership. A lack of God’s people leading others toward Christ or a deeper relationship with Christ.
Every Christian can be the leader the Kingdom of God has designed them to be, however we first have to embrace a few things to be the…
* Christian leader to our spouse that God desires us to be
* Christian leader as a parent that our children need
* Christian leader to our co-workers that your company has to have
* Christian leader to our fellow church members to help us all make a positive impact
So, how can a person show Christian leadership? Don’t you have to have a position “up the ladder” or a position that everyone recognizes? Don’t you have to be an extrovert that talks all the time? Again (and again) the answer is no… being a spiritual leader is not a positional thing, no one votes you into being a spiritual leader, you are a spiritual leader by your nature of being a Christian- that is a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and a follower of Jesus Christ. Being a spiritual leader is not a function of your personality- spiritual leaders can be introverts, extroverts, reverts or whatever other -vert your personality make up may be.
First, remember that this is spiritual leadership… not leadership by personality or knowledge or force or education. The Holy Spirit of God, who dwells in each believer, is what makes you capable and able as a spiritual leader. To say that you are not a leader is not a comment on your personality as much as it is a comment on what you believe the Holy Spirit can do. We often talk about God working in us- to heal us, help us, bless us, lead us… but I truly believe that God desires more than to just work in us, filling us with one blessing after another. God desires to work through us, to be a person that He can work through to have a positive impact on the world and lead others closer to Him. Don’t be overly concerned with what you don’t have or feel like you lack in, focus your attention upon what God can do and the fact that He can do those things through you.
Leadership principle for every Christian: God is working through my life to touch the lives of others and lead them to be close to Him.
Second, spiritual leadership has to do with character, not power. Our world works under the powers that are in control- government, military, financial institutions or on a smaller scale your boss, your CEO. To the world, power is leadership and leadership is power. If we take this principle into the spiritual realm, then we must have to be a powerful person in order to be a leader. Our leader, Jesus, said that He was meek, He was a servant, He came to serve many, He came to give His life away… He was powerful, just not in the worldly sense. We too can be powerful. Powerful in Spirit to say no to temptation. Powerful to give our time to serve others rather than taking it all for ourselves. Powerful to give to the less fortunate rather than buying another toy we really don’t need. We may not see these acts as powerful, in fact some in the world would say it is a sign of weakness, but it shows a strength of character to say yes to the Spirit. When you do, you lead the people around you to see another direction for life, another way to live besides the pressure the world exerts on them each day.
Leadership principle for every Christian: I can be a powerful person, not because of my personality or position, but by using the choices I make everyday to follow Christ to lead others to be closer to Him.
Thirdly, spiritual leadership is living under the right authority. ”It’s lonely at the top” refers to the lofty singular position the world puts leaders in, and that is not what many of us think we want for ourselves. Because worldly leaders are the decision-makers and authorities, they are separated and have to be self-sufficient to survive. Most of us don’t fit or don’t want to fit that category. But spiritual leadership is not the same. In spiritual leadership we work under the authority of God, with the urging and equipping of the person of the Holy Spirit. There is no loneliness in spiritual leadership. Listen the words of a centurion addressing the spiritual leadership of Jesus…
Matt 8 7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!
“Under authority”, the centurion understood that Jesus was not alone and He had companionship for the task given to Him and the one Jesus served had the power to command whatever He wished. We too have to know that what we do in the Kingdom, in our families, in our workplaces, in our church, are not “lonely” activities, but done with and through the Holy Spirit.
Leadership principle for every Christian: I am not alone as I lead others closer to Christ, but wherever I go and whatever I do, it is under the presence and authority of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I will not fear the times God allows me to show His grace, forgiveness and power, but I will embrace them as an opportunity to lead others closer to Jesus Christ.
Trust God, focus on others. Spiritual leadership is a demonstration of trust in God to take care of us, so we can give ourselves away to serve and lead others. The world teaches us to take care of #1 (notice number one is never anyone but yourself!). That kind of attitude demonstrates the great insecurity the world lives under- “if I don’t take care of me, no one will”, “trust no one but yourself”, “no one cares/understands/knows me”, “I have to achieve/earn/take so that I have what I want”. You cannot lead anyone when you are consumed with caring for yourself, blessing yourself and trying to get for yourself. Leadership, by nature, is something done on behalf of and for the benefit of others. As spiritual leaders in your home, your workplace or in your church, we should trust God to care for us in our relationships, monetarily, physically, so we can feel free and unhindered to give ourselves away. Listen to how Paul puts this principle in 2 Corinthians 9
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.” 10 For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 11 Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God.
Leadership principle for every Christian: I believe that God will supply and support me so that I can feel free to give of myself to lead and serve others so that they draw closer to God. The more I believe God provides for me, the less I try to take from others and the more I give to others.
God has qualified you as a spiritual leader and placed you specifically in your spot- in your workplace, your home, your church- to be a person who helps others draw closer to Christ, to be a leader. You don’t need a lofty position, you just have to be open to allow God to work with and through you.
I heard a story once about a lady who was distressed about her workplace. She was upset because she was the only Christian there and the people she worked with were kind of crude and very “worldly”. She decided to talk to her pastor about her problem, convinced that she would be told to leave this evil place and go somewhere more suited for her faith. Upon sharing with her pastor all of her difficulties, her pastor responded…
“I am so excited for you!”
“But I am in a lousy place… and there are people all around me who are doing and talking about all kinds of things I don’t like”
“But you are in the perfect place…”
“I can’t be, I am the only Christian there. I don’t have any support…”
“You are the spiritual leader of your workplace. Who else in that company is going to show them the love of Christ? Who else is going to be there to pray for them? Who else has knowledge of how to get to heaven, how to live with God, how to live a purposeful life in Jesus Christ? You are their spiritual leader.”
That truth applies to all of us, we are someone’s spiritual leader. Don’t let your home, your workplace or your church suffer from a lack of spiritual leadership. It is up to each of us to take up our mantle of leadership, where we are, in whatever position we are in. Don’t wait for the people with the titles and the status, be the spiritual leader for those God has placed around you.