Leadership in our times- Part 1
Most Christians have reservations about aspiring to be leaders. They are unsure about whether it is truly right for a person to want to be a leader. After all, is it not better for the position to seek out the person rather than the person to seek out the position?
No doubt, Christians must resist a certain kind of ambition and rid it from their lives. Jeremiah 45 vs 5, "And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the LORD. "But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go."
But we must acknowledge other ambitions as noble, worthy, and honorable. 1 Timothy 3 vs 1 (NEB) says, “To aspire to leadership is an honorable position.” Paul urges us to the work of leading the church, the most important work in the world.
When our motives are right, this work pays eternal dividends. And so Jeremiah gave Baruch some very wise and simple counsel. Jeremiah 45 vs 5, "And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the LORD. "But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go."
The prophet was not condemning all ambition as sinful, but he was pointing to selfish motivation that makes ambition wrong – “great things for yourself.” Ambition that centres on the glory of God and welfare of the church is a mighty force for good. The word ambition comes from a Latin word meaning “campaigning for promotion.” The phrase suggests a variety of elements:
a. Social visibility and approval.
c. Peer recognition.
exercise of authority over others.
Jesus had no time for such ego-driven ambitions. The true leader will never “campaign for promotion.” To his ambitious disciples Jesus announced a new standard of greatness. Mark 10 vs 42-44: “But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all."
True service is never without cost. Often it comes with a painful baptism of suffering.
THE SEARCH FOR LEADERS.
Psalm 75 vs 6-7: “For exaltation comes neither from the east Nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another”.
George Liddel said,” Give me a man of God – one man, one mighty prophet of the Lord, and I will give you peace on earth, bought with a prayer and I will give you peace on earth, bought with a prayer and not a sword.”. Real leaders are in short supply. Constantly people and groups search for them. Throughout the Bible, God searches for leaders, too.
1Samuel13 vs 4: “Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel had also become an abomination to the Philistines. And the people were called together to Saul at Gilgal.
Jeremiah 5 vs 1: "Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; And seek in her open places If you can find a man, If there is anyone who executes judgment, Who seeks the truth, And I will pardon her.”
Ezekiel 22 vs 30: "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” The Bible shows us that when God does find a person who is ready to lead, to commit to full discipleship, that person is used. Such leaders still have shortcomings and flaws, but despite them, they become spiritual leaders. Such were: Moses, Gideon, David. Martin Luther, John Wesley and William Carey.
To be a leader in the church has always required strength and faith beyond the merely human. Many people regard leaders as naturally gifted with intellect, personal forcefulness and enthusiasm. Such qualities certainly enhance leadership potential, but they do not define spiritual leadership. True leaders must be willing to suffer for the sake of objectives great enough to demand their wholehearted obedience. Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them.
Samuel Brengle, a gifted leader who served for many years in the Salvation Army, outlined the road to spiritual authority and leadership. He states the following:
“It is not won by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confession of sin, and much heart searching and humbling before God; by self-surrendering, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold uncomplaining embrace of cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering look unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but like Paul, by counting those things that are gain as loss for Christ. This is a great price, but it must be paid by the leader who would not be merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell.”
God wants to show such people how strong He really is. 2 Chronicles 16 vs 9: "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars." This price must be paid, before any public office or honour.
Part two of this article will focus on: Characteristics of great leaders. Don’t miss it! Follow us on twitter: @zcalliance1