Leadership is not a noun; it is a verb. Leadership is not an identity; it is an action.
We are living in exciting days. We were given a task as the Church and Bride of Christ to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We know where we are and what still needs to be done to finish the task. The Church has the resources that are needed to finish the job, but the one great lack is spiritual leadership.
We need leaders today who can see what is coming; who know what the Church needs to do and be able to go beyond denominational barriers and bring unity to the Body of Christ.
Leadership is not a dictatorship but rather an example. Leadership is not about having a certain amount of charisma. Like it says, leadership is a verb, it is action, an action that is seen by example.
Paul said: “Follow me, because I follow the Lord Jesus.” What do we see with Jesus? “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, goes he before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:3-4
Jesus does not drive them – He leads them. To lead we must know where we are going and how to take others with us. To know where we are going, we need to have a grasp of the pressing issues of today. Once this has taken place then it is necessary to throw ourselves into the task and then do it as unto the Lord.
I think of William Carey (the father of the modern mission movement), Hudson Taylor (who opened the interior of China to the Gospel) and Cameron Townsend (who had a desire to get the Living Word of God into every language of the world). They threw themselves into the task and many have followed since.
When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica he mentioned: “…remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.” These three virtues are the necessities for spiritual leadership: faith, hope and love.
We know from what Apostle James taught that “faith without works is dead.” A man who believes will also obey, and God gives increasing faith to the obedient heart. Often along with obedience comes sacrifice, but love will carry us through, and hope gives us the patience to keep on keeping on – even in the midst of difficulties.
It is said of Hudson Taylor that when the Boxer uprising took place in China – mission after mission was closed down, missionaries were being killed and telegrams were coming across his desk telling of the grim news. Taylor could be heard humming the children’s hymn “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” This is the work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope. This is a great need today.
Another great need in spiritual leadership is learning to stand and divide over the ‘right’ things or issues. The problem that Paul faced with the Corinthian church is they were standing and dividing over the wrong things. Paul wrote 14 letters (chapters in 1 Corinthians) telling them that they were standing and dividing over the wrong things and this is what we often see today. They stood and divided over what I would call ‘a party spirit’ or what we could call denominations today.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
Another aspect of the Corinthian church is what I would call ‘intellectualism.’ “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.”
There was an arrogance and tendency to look down on their less gifted brethren. They were also standing on what could be called ‘false spirituality.’ The Corinthian church was a gifted church and it seems that they were lifting one gift of tongues above the rest.
We see Paul dealing with all three issues and this is also true with spiritual leadership. Finally, after 14 letters, Paul tells them what to stand on and this is what spiritual leadership will do as well.
1 Corinthians 15:1 “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” Paul goes on to describe what the Gospel is: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
If Christ died for our sins, then we need to recognize that we are all sinners. He was buried and rose again, and this is true for there were a number of eyewitnesses. Twice it is mentioned “according to the Scriptures.”
This is what true spiritual leadership will stand on. It has been prophesied about a billion souls still coming to Christ. If this is to happen might the Lord raise up true spiritual leaders.