Category Archives: Leadership
RECOGNIZING THE LESSONS AND STAGES OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
A PRIMER ON THE PROCESS OF BECOMING A LEADER
Book Review By David P. Craig
Knowing where one is at is crucial in moving forward in life. Nothing is more helpful when one is lost than having a map of where one is, and how to get to where we need to go. Recently, I experienced going through a difficult bout with cancer. The treatment and side effects of the treatment were absolutely brutal. However, I had a guide along the way to help me get through it. He was a man who had the exact same cancer and treatment as me, but he was already “cancer free” and a year ahead of me in the process. He helped me in my journey in two ways: (1) He helped me realize that what I was going through was normal and miserable, but necessary for the cancer to be killed; (2) He gave me a “living hope” that I would be cancer free like him if I endured to the end of the treatment without giving up. The process was excruciating, but now that I look back a year later – like him – I want to help people in their journey with cancer.
In the same vein as my illustration above Dr. Clinton helps emerging leaders understand the process of becoming a mature leader by evaluating the lives of biblical and modern leaders journeys. He identifies six primary processes’ that all leaders must go through on the way to becoming a healthy and mature leader of leaders. Some of the examples used in this book are the Prophets Jeremiah and Daniel, the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, and modern examples: Dawson Trotman, Warren Wiersbe, A.W. Tozer, Watchman Nee, Amy Carmichael and several others.
In his study Clinton articulates six phases or stages of a leaders development:
(1) Phase One is called “Sovereign Foundations” – This is where a leader starts to become aware of his or her calling to leadership. It is a time where character issues are developing, skills are developing, and one’s calling is being wrestled with. There is a deep sense of God’s calling and purpose and the building blocks for the emerging leader’s life are starting to lay the foundations for a life of leadership.
(2) Phase Two is called “Inner Life Growth” – This is a time where the leader is learning to hear and obey God’s leading. It is a time of deep spiritual growth and intimacy with God. The leader is often put through several major tests during this process – will he or she obey and submit wholeheartedly to God?
(3) Phase Three is called “Ministry Maturing” – In this stage the leader is reaching out to others and discovering and practicing ones spiritual gifts. Both positive and negative lessons are being learned during this phase. The leader is learning his or her own strengths and weaknesses in working with others. Oftentimes there is a strong desire to get more training during this time to minimize one’s weaknesses and enhance one’s strengths. In the first three phases God is primarily working “in” the leader not through him or her. In the next three phases God is working “through” the leader. As Clinton articulates “Many emerging leaders don’t recognize this, and become frustrated. They are constantly evaluating productivity and activities, while God is quietly evaluating their leadership potential. He wants to teach us that we minister out of what we are.”
(4) Phase Four is called “Life Maturing” – This is a time in the leaders life where the leader “is using his or her spiritual gifts in a ministry that is satisfying. He gains a sense of priorities concerning the best use of his gifts and understands that learning what not to do is as important as learning what to do. A mature fruitfulness is the result. Isolation, crisis, and conflict take on new meaning. The principle that ‘ministry flows out of being’ has new significance as the leader’s character mellows and matures.” Communion and intimacy with God becomes immensely more important than one’s ‘success’ in ministry.
(5) Phase Five is called “Convergence” – God takes the leader and matches him or her with a role that matches his or her gift-mix and experience so that ministry is maximized. Life maturing and ministry maturing peak together during this phase. Many leaders never get to experience this phase. Some leaders like Dawson Trotman and Jim Elliott were taken to Heaven before entering this phase. Some leaders don’t get to experience this phase because of their own sin, or other providential circumstances. For those who experience convergence it is a time of transitional leadership where the baton is passed down to other faithful leaders who will continue to develop the leaders’ vision for the church or organization they have developed.
(6) The final phase is called “Afterglow” or “Celebration” – Clinton describes this stage as “The fruit of a lifetime of ministry growth culminates in an era of recognition and indirect influence at broad levels. Leaders in Afterglow have built up a lifetime of contacts and continue to exert influence in these relationships. Others will seek them out because of their consistent track record of following God. Their storehouse of wisdom gathered over a lifetime of leadership will continue to bless and benefit many.”
Clinton defines leadership as “a dynamic process in which a man or woman with God-given capacity influences a specific group of God’s people toward His purposes for the group.” This book is written for leaders and potential leaders who are (a) wondering what God is doing in their lives – asking the question “Is God calling me into Christian ministry?”; (b) are beginning to discover ministry opportunities; (c) need a fresh challenge from God; (d) need to understand how to select and develop younger leaders; (e) are at a crossroads, facing a major decision; (f) want to know how God develops leaders; (g) want to know where you are at in the process of your leadership development – is what you are experiencing normal for a leader?
I think all emerging and veteran leaders will benefit immensely from reading this book. It is packed with useful examples, illustrations, charts, and principles to help you become a godly leader. Also, it is immensely helpful to help you understand the process’ of leadership and how to invest in other emerging leaders. If you believe God is calling you to leadership, or has already entrusted you with a leadership role, you will most definitely benefit from Clinton’s wisdom – from one leader to another.
AM I LEADING IN A GOD-CENTERED MANNER?
Do people understand more of God’s mercy because of the way I respond to their mistakes?
Do people understand more of God’s holiness because of my high ethical standards?
Do people understand more of God’s patience because of the time I give to grow and develop?
Do people understand more of God’s truthfulness because of the way I communicate honestly?
Do people understand more of God’s more of God’s faithfulness because they see me keep my promises?
Do people understand more of God’s kindness because of the tone of my voice?
Do people understand more of God’s love because I go out of my way to help and serve them as I lead?
Do people understand more of God’s grace because I avoid being harsh and unreasonably demanding?
To what extent does my leadership actually model and teach something about the character of God?
“SOURCE: Stephen Viars. Leadership: How to Guide Others Integrity. New Growth Press, 2012.
LEARNING, LEADING, AND LEAVING A LEGACY
Leadership Lessons from the Life of Peter the Apostle
Book Review by David P. Craig
Just as life has seasons, leaders also have stages or phases of leadership. In this practical book Jeff Iorg tackles the three seasons or phases of a leader’s life. Using the Apostle Peter as his thematic teaching point, Iorg highlights leadership lessons from the three seasons or phases of leadership: Phase One – learning about leadership; Phase Two – actively leading; and Phase Three – leaving a legacy.
In Part One – Lessons for Emerging Leaders – Iorg tackles 21 lessons for leaders to grapple with in the earliest phases of their leadership development. Some of the topics addressed include: a leader’s calling, identity, prayer life, how to forgive, and serve humbly. The first section of the book highlights leadership principles and lessons from the stories in the Gospels where the Apostle Peter is specifically singled out by Jesus.
Part Two – Priorities for Active Leaders – contains 13 priorities for leaders in their prime, including: calling people to Jesus, accessing God’s power, confronting sin, defending the faith, working with other leaders, and how to move on after making mistakes. In this section of the book Iorg gives emphasis to every story in Acts and the Epistles where Peter is involved in leadership and the lessons or insights we can glean from his example.
In Part Three – Convictions of Maturing Leaders – Iorg expounds upon 10 powerful convictions of a leader intent on leaving a lasting legacy, including: Jesus is enough, pursuing purity, building good relationships, trusting Jesus and His Word, and giving glory to Jesus. The last section of the book summarizes Peter’s legacy from the wisdom he gained, the disciples and leaders he influenced, and the convictions he held to and modeled for a generation of leaders to come.
Jeff Iorg has written a very insightful and practical book that helps leaders learn more about leadership, focus on what’s most important in leadership, and finish well in one’s calling by leading effectively and leaving a legacy for future leaders. Written with emerging leaders and veteran leaders in mind, this book is filled with great insights for leaders of all seasons, ages, and phases of life. Each short chapter includes helpful questions for reflection and discussion. The book would be an excellent resource for church leaders to use in a discipleship type setting over a period of several months. It could also be a very helpful book for older pastors to mentor younger pastors with. I highly recommend this book as a great resource to return to throughout the varied seasons of a leader’s life.
Paul instructed Timothy, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV).
Jesus commission to the disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18b-20, ESV).
Succession Isn’t An Option
In Joe Aldrich’s excellent book on evangelism he retells this insightful legend on successionism related to the great commission:
There is a legend which recounts the return of Jesus to glory after his time on earth. Even in heaven he bore the marks of his earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached him and said, “Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there.” “I did,” he said. “And,” continued Gabriel, “do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?” “Oh, no,” said Jesus, “not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.” Gabriel was perplexed. “Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?” Jesus said, “I’ve asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell other people about me. Those who are told will in turn tell still other people, and my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done.” Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He knew well what poor stuff men were made of. “Yes,” he said, “but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? Haven’t you made any other plans?” Jesus answered, “I have no other plans. I’m counting on them.” Twenty centuries later, he still has no other plan. He’s counting on you and me. High on God’s “To Do” list is the evangelization of the world. His early disciples adopted his priorities and devoted themselves to reaching their world. Christ counted on them, and they delivered. Have we done as well? (Joe Aldrich. Lifestyle Evangelism: Learning to Open Your Life to Those Around You. Portland, OR.: Multnomah Press, pp. 15-16).
It is my contention that what is true of evangelism above is also true of discipleship with particular regard to the succession of developing leaders in the church. There are many ways to go about developing leaders. I would look to share one of the simplest yet incredibly effective ways to make this happen.
If we desire to be effective leaders it’s absolutely essential that we also become effective disciple makers and mentors. I have been helped in the whole idea of succession in leadership by many mentors I have had along the way in my thirty years of ministry in the church. The most beneficial concept I’ve learned will be shared in this chapter from the big idea gleaned from Ron Lee Davis’ wonderful book: Mentoring: The Strategy of the Master (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1991). In that book Davis articulates a great strategy for successful succession in leadership based on having a Paul, a Timothy, and a Barnabas in your life. Unfortunately, this book is no longer in print, and many people have never heard about this great idea. In this chapter I will share how you can benefit from the idea of having a Paul in your life – someone more spiritually mature than you in a particular skill or character issue; a Timothy – someone you are investing in – to develop particular strengths in character and skill; and a Barnabas – a colleague that is committed to your success as you seek to invest your life in others.
Mentoring and Discipleship Defined
I once led a Bible study with about twenty men present on a weekly basis. I can remember one night we had over thirty men show up and the topic was on discipleship and mentoring. Most of the men were non-believers or new believers and they all shared they had never been mentored or discipled and wanted to know what the difference was between the two of them. On a whim I asked these men, “how many of you had a father that was a follower of Christ that you would want to emulate in your own life?” To my total shock only one man in over thirty had a dad who was even a believer! I realized right then and there that I needed to get super serious about discipleship and mentoring in my church. I had taken for granted the modeling that I had received from a wonderful Christian dad and presumed that most men in my church had the same. Boy was I wrong!
I have read a lot of books on “mentoring” and “discipleship” in my life. Paul Stanley and J.R. Clinton in their book Connecting define mentoring as “a relational experience in which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.” They define discipling as “a relational process in which a more experienced follower of Christ shares with a newer believer the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus as Lord” (J. Robert Clinton and Paul D. Stanley. Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need To Succeed In Life. Colorado Springs, NavPress, 1992).
Ted Engstrom in his book The Fine Art of Mentoring brings discipleship and mentoring together in this way, “A discipler is one who helps an understudy (1) give up his own will for the will of God the Father, (2) live daily a life of spiritual sacrifice for the glory of Christ, and (3) strive to be consistently obedient to the commands of his Master. A mentor, on the other hand, provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas—discipline, encouragement, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability” (Ted Engstrom. The Fine Art of Mentoring. Brentwood, TN.: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989, p. 17).
There are many other good definitions in my files on discipleship and mentoring. Sometimes the definitions are almost identical. Usually the definitions of discipleship focus on knowledge of the Scriptures, whereas mentoring focuses on the “how to” or “hands on” application of the Scriptures and various skills and character development. Ron Lee Davis states simply, “mentoring is a process of opening our lives to others, of sharing our lives with others; a process of living for the next generation” (Ron Lee Davis. Mentoring, p.16).
The Search for a New Definition
In my opinion Jesus discipled and mentored the disciples. The word “mentor” is not found in the Bible, but the concept is in all sixty-six books. If ever someone “opened,” “shared,” and “lived” his life for others – Jesus did. If ever someone taught people to love and obey God, and serve others – Jesus did. A word I have made up over the years to help people get the bridge between discipleship and mentoring is “investoring.” The word investoring combines the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and applicational elements of discipleship and mentoring. Investoring is the process of investing in someone’s eternal future by storing up in them the knowledge, skills, character and obedience of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures to the glory of God. Thus investoring combines all the elements of discipleship and mentoring – the intellect, the heart, and the hands for the sake of Christ’s glory. It involves a conscious and intentional commitment into someone’s life where you are storing Christ in him or her.
Investoring is a Community Project
You may say, “But I’m not Jesus!” And you are 100% correct. That’s why we need a plurality of leaders and disciples working together to help one another conform to the image of Christ. Paul told the Corinthian church, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, ESV). One of the dangers of being a leader is that you think everyone needs to think like you, be like you, and act like you. It’s no wonder our churches are so dysfunctional. As leaders we need to do all we can to be, look, and act like Christ, but we also need to realize that we need the whole body of Christ to participate if we are going to be effective in investoring for the sake of Christ. It’s no wonder that the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church to keep on practicing and pursuing the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). It takes a community of personalities, experiences, skills, and character to make healthy multiplying disciples of Christ.
The Trinity is a community in unity. Leadership in the Old Testament and New Testament has involved Prophets, Priests, and Kings, Elders, and Deacons in community and unity. If we take the great commission seriously then it’s important that we think intentionally and strategically about investoring and sucessionism in our ministries.
No Plan B
Investoring should take into consideration reaching the lost, building them up in the faith, and unleashing them for a life long ministry of investoring. We will draw some important principles from the following parable by Win Arn:
Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry. Week after week, month after month, and year after year these, who called themselves fishermen, met in meetings and talked about their call to go about fishing. Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing, such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered. These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however; they didn’t fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what is needed is a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in far-away streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived. Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see far-away places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing. Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. And they went off to foreign lands . . . to teach fishing. Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs. They anguished over those who were not committed enough to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”? Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who don’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he/ she never catches a fish? Is one following if he/ she isn’t fishing? (Win Arn, The Pastor’s Church Growth Handbook, vol. 1, Monrovia, California: Church Growth, Inc., 1979, pp. 151-154).
Win Arn is addressing the church’s obsession with talking about evangelism, but doing precious little actual evangelism. I think it’s just as bad in the arena of making multiplying disciples and leaders in the church. We have a lot of programs, meetings, and training sessions, but we actually do very little relational investoring. We need to answers Arn’s question about investoring. “Are we fishing?” “Are we catching any fish?” And may I add, “What are we doing with the fish once we catch them?” How are we really doing at making disciples and raising up, training, and unleashing leaders in the church?
Simple Steps Toward Investoring
Every pastor I know is extremely busy. However, we need to ask the question, “Am I making disciples?” “Am I doing anything that resembles what Jesus did two thousand years ago with his twelve disciples?” Yes, you are preparing sermons. Yes, you are counseling. Yes, you are doing weddings and funerals. But the kicker is “Am I making multiplying disciples?” If you were to die today what would happen to your leadership team? What would happen to your church? Many pastors are very skilled, gifted, and have amassed a large following. However, is this following made up of invested in, stored into, Christ-like leaders? I think it’s of crucial importance that we answer this question with a resounding “YES!” However, you will not be able to answer “Yes” without an intentional plan for successional investoring.
The good news is that every pastor has the three things you need for successful investoring: time, a calendar, and the ability to make your own schedule. As a pastoral life coach one of the main things I help people with is fulfill their vision by scheduling the steps needed to achieve your vision. Here is an example. Many pastors say to me, “I don’t have any non-Christian friends, so how am I supposed to reach non-Christians for Christ?” I then ask them, “When do you intentionally get together with non-believers?” They always say, “What?” And I say when’s the last time you invited a neighbor over for a barbeque or to watch a football game, or to play tennis? In other words what bridges can you build with people in your sphere of influence for the sake of investoring?
I was speaking at a conference for a young church planting team in Argentina about this concept of investoring with the lost and a thirty-year-old businessman came up to me afterwards as if I had just discovered plutonium or something. He said, “You mean I can invite my co-workers on a fishing trip and build a friendship with them, and share my faith with them over time?” “Yes! Absolutely!” This man has since that time led several of his friends to Christ – some of which are now, like him, leaders in the church.
As pastors we expect to be equippers of the saints to do the work of the ministry right? What about Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). You may say, well I preach the gospel every week – that’s my work in evangelism.” But don’t forget the word “always” in the passage. Evangelism shouldn’t just take place on Sunday’s but “always.”
This is where our schedule comes in. I coach leaders to use their calendars to schedule their investoring. I think the most important thing we need to schedule is our time with God first. Right now as I write these words it’s August. So one of the first things I do with pastors is help them schedule blocks of time with God. Some of those times are one-hour blocks and some two-hour blocks of time – for prayer and devotional time with God. Next to schedule blocks of time with your spouse – dates, prayer time, study time, discussion time, financial discussion and so forth. Then schedule blocks of time for family and individual dates with your kids – sporting events, dates, discipleship, and various intentional meetings for investoring. Lastly, to schedule times with unbelievers – tennis, golf, barbeques and the like. We need to schedule investoring times with men that are investoring in us (Paul’s); encouraging us (Barnabas’); and men we are investoring in (Timothy’s).
The Power of a Paul in Your Life: Investoring Relationship #1
Timothy had a spiritual Father – the Apostle Paul. For me my physical father was also my spiritual father. My dad is ninety years old as I write this, and yet there is no one who has been a greater influence on my spiritual life. He taught me primarily by his actions not by his words. I never woke up without him reading the Bible on his lap in the morning. He instilled in me a love for the Scriptures because he lived them out in real life. My dad was an international businessman and as a result we traveled a lot. There was never a Sunday where we missed church. He loved to hear the word preached and to spend time in worship. He taught me to tithe, study the word, be involved in the church, and have Christo-centric lenses with which to filter all of reality – all through his modeling of these things.
It’s important to have many Paul’s. My dad is a tremendous example to me, but he’s not perfect – he has strengths to imitate and weaknesses to avoid. It’s important as pastors that we recognize this in our heroes. I have a Paul who helps me with finances. We have been friends for many years and I have learned a ton about giving, saving, and investing from my “financial Paul.” I have another Paul who helps me with my attitude. I can always count on this Paul to help me with my thinking when I see the glass half empty rather than half full. He has the ability to steer my thoughts heavenward when they are going wayward!
I’ve approached good preachers to help me with my preaching; others to help me with leadership skills; and still others to help me with counseling, conflict management, and various helps with growth in character and skill development. The main thing to remember is that you constantly schedule times with your Paul’s to grow in Christ-like character and skill.
Here are some specific examples I’ve had with Paul’s over the years. One year I was struggling with creativity in preaching. I had been preaching topically for several years and this well-known preacher was an expositional preacher. I called him and invited him out for coffee and he graciously met with me over a period of several months to teach me how to put together expositional sermons. It was the highlight of my week to meet with this excellent expositor of the Word and learn how to become an expository preacher. He would critique my previous weeks sermon; give me ideas of how to have a stronger introduction, big idea, main points, application, and conclusion. As a result I became a much better Bible student, and preacher. The many ways this “Paul” helped me with my preaching were and are incalculable. I learned how to put together an outline, develop a manuscript, and preach without notes from this individual. He radically changed the way I think, prepare, and preach sermons for the glory of God.
Another year I focused on “joy” in my life as a key element missing in manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. I read books on joy, but found a wise older man to meet with every other week for coffee who was known for his joy. I asked him about his habits, thought process when difficulties come, and many other issues related to joy. He’s since gone home to be with the Lord and I still struggle with joy in my life, but I often reflect on what this man taught me about joy, and just thinking about him – brings joy into my life – because he so reflected the joy of Christ in his own.
A Paul can be a life-long mentor for you, or a short-term relationship. The key is that you are proactive in finding and pursuing relationships with Paul’s. The steps I’ve taken in pursuing Paul’s are these: (1) Ask leaders around me what my blind spots are or areas where I could use some growth (I’ve been told in the past I needed more skill in communication – thus the preaching – and needed to smile more – thus the pursuit of joy); (2) Set a time frame for the particular skill or character development. For example, I spent three months learning how to preach expostionally, and one year learning how to become more joyful. This doesn’t mean I don’t still work on becoming a better preacher or becoming more joyful. As a matter of fact – I’m currently looking for mentors in both of these areas again! (3) Commit to your relationship with your Paul. Write out some goals and a plan that you will both agree to – time; place; boundaries; expectations; and some goals. (4) Don’t break off the relationship – but give a time of closure to the process. Most people that you want to be a “Paul” in your life need to invest in others as well. Thank them for their time and release them and encourage them to invest in other “Timothy’s.” (5) Never stop praying for, looking for, and asking for people to invest in you.
I like to have a new Paul in my life each year. I usually have a Paul for some aspect of my character (e.g. – love, patience, joy), and another in a particular skill area (finances, parenting, preaching). The sky is the limit in your growth with a Paul in your life.
Here is what I look for in a Paul. I primarily look for someone who is Christ-like. I’m looking for an area in my own life where I don’t look like Jesus, but for someone I know who does look like Jesus in a particular area of character or skill. I also want someone that believes in me and will commit to me. Therefore, if they meet these criteria I set up a time to meet with them, and give them a head’s up about why I’m meeting with them. For example, when I met with the expository preacher I told him that I admired his preaching and asked if he would be willing to meet with me over a period of three months to show me how he puts together a sermon. I was going through the book of Philippians at the time, so he worked with me on outlining the book, asking questions of the text, and coming up with illustrations and applications from each pericope.
Do you have someone with excellent skills that can help you to improve in areas where you are weak? Do you have someone who is spiritually mature and models biblical values in your life? Do you have someone who is a Christ-like model worth emulating? Do you have someone to go to for wise counsel and advise? Do you have a Paul who is pouring his life into you as the Apostle did with Timothy? Be proactive – prioritize and pursue your Paul now.
I would also urge you to be a Paul for others. What skills and character traits can you help another Timothy with? Are you being proactive with intentionally developing character traits and skills in the lives of others around you? There is an old Chinese Proverb that says, “If you are planting for a year, plant grain. If you are planting for a decade, plant trees. If you are planting for a century, plant people.” You have areas of strength that will be greatly strengthened when you “investorize” them in others for the glory of God.
The Presence of a Barnabas in Your Life: Investoring Relationship #2
Do you have someone in your life that encourages you regularly? Do you have someone who supports you, believes in you, and guides you? Chuck Swindoll once stated, “A person is never more like Christ than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged, or forgotten.”
Enter Barnabas – “the son of encouragement.” Who wouldn’t want to have a Barnabas in their life? He was generous with his finances (Acts 4:32-37); reached out to Paul when everyone else was skeptical about him (Acts 9:26-31 & 11:25-30); spent time with Mark when he had failed (Acts 15:36-39). If it where not for Barnabas we would not have Paul’s epistles not Mark’s gospel. Neither would we have the rapid spread of the gospel as recorded in the Book of Acts. The fact of the matter is nothing empowers good leadership like encouragement.
People like Barnabas are hard to find. The fact of the matter is – they usually find you. Honestly, for every 100 Jezebels and Judas’ out there, you will find a Barnabas. My only advise on finding a Barnabas is to do your best to be a Barnabas. Someone once told me, “Be kind to everyone, because everyone is facing some kind of battle.”
Most the people in my life that have been a Barnabas for me have gone to be with the Lord. I have a few left, but not many. I simply would say to treasure the Barnabas’ in your life. Be around them as much as possible. Also be like Barnabas as much as you possibly can. There were essentially four keys to Barnabas’ life: (1) He was a man of integrity (Acts 11:24); (2) He was full of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26); (3) He was full of faith; and (4) he was teachable (Acts 13:43, 50). Constantly be a Barnabas to others and pray that God will bring you a Barnabas by His grace.
Just like your time with God, your spouse, your kids, and your Paul. If you have a Barnabas schedule time with your Barnabas at least once a month. In seasons of dryness schedule more times as needed. Also, please schedule times to be a Barnabas for others – caregivers, people with cancer, and those who are depressed and suffering – they need to be encouraged in Christ desperately.
The Potential of a Timothy in Your Life: Investoring Relationship #3
Do you have someone you’re investoring in? Are you investing in the spiritual life of your children? What about those who don’t know Jesus or are young in the faith? Are you teaching anyone how to study their Bibles or how to share their faith? There are so many Timothy’s and so little time!
Timothy’s are the easiest to find. Paul’s are harder to come by, and Barnabas’ are fewer and far between. However, you can definitely be a Paul to a Timothy right now. There is an area in your character as well as a skill that you can teach and model for someone else. I have found that men in particular need help in how to show love to their wives (desperately); raise their children (ultra-desperately); and in sharing their faith with neighbors and co-workers (ultra-ultra-desperately).
Based on our key verse on investoring in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others.” – We see in a nutshell that investoring involves five essential aspects:
(1) It’s relational. The “you” in verse one refers to Timothy and the “my” refers to the Apostle Paul. People learn how to better love and follow Jesus in the context of a focused and purposeful friendship. Timothy learned about life and ministry as he spent time observing and learning from Paul – mediated through his unique personality, gifting, and style.
(2) It’s grounded in Theology. The Apostle Paul imparted what he had received “in the presence of many witnesses” (marturon “martyrs”). These were men and women that had died for their beliefs and convictions based on the Scriptures. In the first century a martyr denoted a public witness to the truth. The meaning of the word martyr into its present meaning is evidence that Christian truth telling could be terminally costly. In the Greek the word “entrust” means making a secure run to the bank to deposit a treasure. These “treasures” for the martyrs were not based on anything material, but based on the great doctrinal truths that make up the gospel: Christ’s atonement for sin, His ascension, His resurrection, and soon return.
(3) It’s intentional. All of us are involved in many un-intentional relationships – encounters with the mailman; the checker at the market; and so forth. However, in the case of Paul and Timothy we see a relationship that was established for a specific purpose – The succession of church leadership. Intentional relationships usually don’t happen unintentionally or spontaneously. Therefore, it’s important that we work hard at being creative and specific with our intentions in pursuing Paul’s and finding Timothy’s to invest in. Being a Barnabas can be spontaneous but will be manifested more when we are intentional in seeking to encourage others.
(4) It’s transformational. The people who have made the biggest impact on my life have been up close and personal. We can learn much from audio, video, and books, but there is absolutely no substitute for real life modeling in the midst of the ups and downs of life.
(5) It’s reproducible. Paul specifies that his goal with Timothy is that he “will be able to teach others.” The goal is always multiplication. We are not to be stagnant pools of knowledge, but rivers with many outlets. We want to refresh and renew and revive the leaders around us.
The Bottom Line
Leadership in the Bible is all about succession. God never meant to have great leaders so that we simply remember or follow great leaders. He wants us to be great leaders so that we can point others to and emulate our Great Leader. Ultimately Jesus established the Church as the mission agency for unleashing the gospel through disciple making around the world. There is no plan “B.” God’s plan “A” is that His disciples would make disciples who would make disciples until He returns. Having and being a Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas isn’t the only way to make disciples. It’s a way. It’s a way I highly recommend. It’s intentional, purposeful and strategic. It’s hard work, but well worth the effort. It’s a time-tested and trusted model that we see woven all through the Bible – “Moses mentored Joshua. Naomi mentored her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Ezra mentored Nehemiah. Elijah mentored Elisha. Elizabeth mentored her cousin Mary. Barnabas mentored Paul and John Mark. Paul mentored his spiritual son Timothy. Paul also mentored Priscilla and Aquilla, who in turn mentored Apollos” (Davis, p. 21). The question that remains for us to answer is who will you be “investoring” in for the sake of Christ and the expansion of His Church for His glory until He returns?
Qualities and Qualifications of a Mentor by Ron Lee Davis
In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, the apostle Paul listed the qualities and qualifications for people who would occupy positions of leadership and influence in the church. I believe these lists are just as applicable to the role of mentor as to other positions of influence, such as pastor or elder. Here is my own paraphrase of Paul’s qualifications for a biblical mentor:
(1) A mentor must be well-established in the Christian faith, not a recent convert.
(2) A mentor must be a person of good reputation and above reproach.
(3) A mentor must be faithful to his or her spouse.
(4) A mentor must be level-headed and self-controlled, not controlled by bad habits or addictions.
(5) A mentor must be honest and genuine.
(6) A mentor must love what is good, upright, and holy.
(7) A mentor must be biblically literate, daily studying and holding firmly the truths of Scripture.
(8) A mentor must be able to teach others.
(9) A mentor must be hospitable, ready to welcome both friends and strangers.
(10) A mentor must have a gentle and gracious spirit, not given to violent outbursts or anger, not quarrelsome.
(11) A mentor must not be a lover of money and material possessions.
(12) A mentor must be a mentor at home first; that is, a mentor must prove that he or she can nurture, love, teach, train, and counsel his or her own children before attempting to be an example to others.
- Ron Lee Davis. Mentoring: The Strategy of the Master. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1991, pp. 211-212.
PAUL D. STANLEY AND J. ROBERT CLINTON ON THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF MENTORING
Not all mentoring relationships work out well. Sometimes you both expect more than what happens. Occasionally your relationship sags in the middle. Sometimes it drifts off and never finishes. The mentoring relationship can disappoint. You may not know what to do to repair it or improve it. Even so, you almost always gain some empowerment. Learning the hard way, you discover some practical guidelines that can help improve your mentoring. We could list many important guidelines that would help you in specific mentoring relationships. In this article we will describe some common ones that we found helpful for Intensive and Occasional mentoring situations. May you will add new ones, but these are good for starters.
COMMANDMENT 1: RELATIONSHIP
The stronger the relationship, the greater the empowerment. In all dimensions of the Constellation Model-vertical and lateral – relationships are vital. Sometimes mentoring relationships just happen and develop in a natural way. Others take time and are more deliberate. Compatibility and chemistry are true advantages, especially for co-mentoring. Most relationships will not grow to an intimate level, and not all need to. But it is important to keep in mind that you need to continue to develop the relationship.
COMMANDMENT 2: PURPOSE
Sometimes mentoring proves disappointing. This disappointment can frequently be traced back to differing or unfulfilled expectations. We find that expectations should be expressed, negotiated, and agreed upon at the beginning of a mentoring relationship. Commandments two through eight all deal with important areas of expectations. Along with expectations, you need to discuss and mutually affirm the purpose or basic aims of the mentoring relationship.
COMMANDMENT 3: REGULARITY
Disappointments can arise from differing expectations as to regularity of meetings between the mentor and mentoree. Some mentors may have in mind less frequent times together, while growing mentorees may envision more time together. It is better to talk this over and set some ground rules both for regular meeting times and for impromptu interactions. Availability for impromptu times always facilitates the development of the relationship, but there could be conflict with competing time demands if the mentor is heavily engaged in other priorities. Clarify these issues early on in the relationship. Intensive mentoring probably works best with at least once-a-week contact either face-to-face or by phone. Regularity may vary if the mentoree is a self-starter or a person with heavy responsibilities.
COMMANDMENT 4: ACCOUNTABILITY
Accountability or mutual responsibility is an important mentoring dynamic. Again, it usually does not just happen. You must plan for it. Agree together on how you will establish and monitor mentoring tasks. The heart of empowerment lies not only in what the mentor shares with the mentoree but also in the tasks the mentor gives to the mentoree. You must complete the tasks in order to benefit. Accountability is the prod to make sure this happens, because change is difficult and rarely takes place without it. It can occur many ways: written reports, scheduled phone calls, probing questions during meetings, or a planned evaluation time. What a mentor likes to see is a mentoree who takes responsibility to see that accountability takes place. The mentoree’s self-initiative in accountability speeds and enhances empowerment.
COMMANDMENT 5: COMMUNICATION MECHANISMS
Frequently mentors see something in a mentoree that needs correction or about which they feel concern. How and when to communicate this is important to clarify early in a mentor relationship. This is particularly important among peers, who are more apt to hold one another accountable in personal areas. As mentors, we have always asked our mentorees, “If I see or learn of an area of need or concern for you – and it may be negative – how and when do you want me to communicate it to you?” It is important to discover timing and procedure so that when the opportunity comes for correction and challenge (and it will!), we are ready for it and can anticipate a mature response. When peers commit to each other, this is important for them to discuss when they make a covenant. A mentoree can also initiate this as he or she is in a place to learn, grow, and respond to challenge by the mentor.
COMMANDMENT 6: CONFIDENTIALITY
Commandments five and six have to do with communication. Five concerns communication between mentor and mentoree, and six concerns communication outside the mentoring relationship. The mentoring relationship, if it deepens, may involve a sharing of personal matters between mentor and mentoree. It may be that one or both of them do not want these things conveyed to those outside the relationship. Several factors influence the level of confidentiality. One factor involves the personalities of both mentor and mentoree. Some people are more vulnerable, and others are less vulnerable. Some are not concerned that others know the deeper issues of their lives, while others feel threatened by the thought that someone may find out about their personal concerns. They may not even want their age known. A mentoring relationship must honor the participants’ personalities and feelings about confidentiality. You will have to explore this with each individual mentoring relationship you set up. In counseling, you should consider all things confidential and not to be shared with others without permission. For other mentoring relationships, you both need to make it clear when something you share should be treated as confidential. Such a simple statement to each other will free you to speak openly and may save much grief later on.
COMMANDMENT 7: LIFE CYCLES OF MENTORING
Periods of mentoring vary in length of time for empowerment to happen. You should realize this and set reasonable time lengths for the type of mentoring you are involved in. Avoid open-ended mentorships. When you enter a mentoring relationship, do not expect it to last forever. In fact, we prefer breaking up potentially long mentoring experiences into obvious or logical segments, so that at each juncture closure can be made if desired. If you assume that the given purposes and accountability measures will take six months, set up a smaller goal of three months with evaluation. Then both of you can back out without losing face if the mentoring relationship does not meet your expectations. On the other hand, if it goes well you can continue the relationship and set up a new evaluation point. Better to have short periods, evaluation, and closure points with the possibility of reentry than have a sour relationship for a long time that each fears terminating. In summary, here are the basic guidelines: Set realistic time limits. Have exit points where both parties can leave without bad relations. Have open doors where the invitation to continue can be open. Recognize the necessity of a time limit in any mentoring situation.
COMMANDMENT 8: EVALUATION
No mentoring relationship is ideal. Expectations are seldom totally realized. From time to time the mentoring relationship should be evaluated. Wise mentors will use the three dynamic factors (attraction, responsiveness, accountability) and empowerment to help them evaluate the ongoing state of the mentoring venture. This allows for mid-course corrections. Evaluation is dominantly a mentor function. Mentorees will sense growth but will not have the perspective to effectively evaluate; therefore, a joint evaluation is best. In fact, in preparing for mentoring sessions it is a good idea for the mentor to review the whole process and see where progress has been made, where there are problems, and what should be done at the present juncture to improve the mentoring. The following is an example of the evaluation steps we suggest:
Step 1: Mentor evaluates first, on his own.
- Lacks attention
- Little prayer
- Assignments not really on target
- Interest is flagging
- Ready to go on
- Need to redefine
Step 2: Mentor initiates appropriate self-correction
Step 3: Evaluate and discuss – mentor and mentoree
Step 4: Mutual agreement to redefine or modify expectations
COMMANDMENT 9: EXPECTATIONS
Commandments eight and nine are two sides of the same coin. While evaluation, commandment eight, is mainly the responsibility of the mentor, expectation, commandment nine, is mainly the responsibility of the mentoree. Expectations are the root of most disappointing mentoring experiences. The basic rule that can offset missed expectations is a simple one: Use evaluation and feedback to modify your expectations so that they fit your real-life mentoring situation. Recognize that you will seldom reach ideal expectations, because real-life situations have complexities you cannot always anticipate. But you will probably reach realistic expectations. After a time of mentoring, modify what you ideally hoped for down to what is most likely going to happen. Recognize that there will be empowerment and rejoice in that. Lack of meeting ideal expectations does not have to be the source of dissatisfaction in mentoring.
COMMANDMENT 10: CLOSURE
A basic rule in planning passed around more and more is, “Begin with the end in mind.” All mentoring should follow this basic notion. Closure has to do with bringing a satisfactory end to a mentoring experience. Vertical mentoring that has no clear end in mind will usually dwindle to nothing with uneasy feelings on the part of both people. Vertical mentoring is not intended to be an ongoing experience. A happy ending for a mentoring experience involves closure, in which both parties evaluate, recognize how and where empowerment has occurred, and mutually end the mentoring relationship. What frequently happens in successfully closed mentoring is an ongoing friendship that allows for occasional mentoring and future interweaving of lives as needed. So then, don’t forget this final commandment: “Bring closure to the mentoring relationship.” This is probably the most violated of all the commandments, and the most detrimental. Even unsuccessful mentoring experiences should have closure.
LEARNING FROM OUR MISTAKES
Both of us have become increasingly involved in mentoring over the past years. Perhaps you can profit from some of our mistakes. We certainly have! Here are five mistakes to avoid.
1. Don’t be too dominant in establishing the purpose of the mentoring relationship. Draw the mentoree into it for his or her motivation, ownership, and appropriate focus.
2. Do not give out too many tasks too early. Let the mentoree set the pace.
3. Watch out for midway relational “sag.” The mentoring relationship tends to lose its original zest at about the midpoint. Ensure that the mentoree makes bite-size progress, and keep frequent contact.
4. Assess and select mentorees carefully. Check motivation, responsiveness, and right timing.
5. Be careful of “weak closure” and sloppy accountability. Be faithful to the mentoree during the mentoring experience, and end well.
Article adapted from Chapter 13 in Paul D Stanley and Robert Clinton. Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1992.
THE VOICES OF VISION
Where does vision come from? To find the vision that is indispensable to leadership, you have to become a good listener. You must listen to several voices.
The Inner Voice: Vision starts within. Do you know your life’s mission? What stirs your heart? What do you dream about? If what you’re pursuing in life doesn’t come from a desire within—from the very depths of who you are and what you believe—you will not be able to accomplish it.
The Unhappy Voice: Where does inspiration for great ideas come from? From noticing what doesn’t work. Discontent with the status quo is a great catalyst for vision. Are you on complacent cruise control? Or do you find yourself itching to change your world? No great leader in history has fought to prevent change.
The Successful Voice: Nobody can accomplish great things alone. To fulfill a big vision, you need a good team. But you also need good advice from someone who is ahead of you in the leadership journey. If you want to lead others to greatness, find a mentor. Do you have an adviser who can help you sharpen your vision?
The Higher Voice: Although it’s true that your vision must come from within, you shouldn’t let it be confined by your limited capabilities. A truly valuable vision must have God in it. Only He knows your full capabilities. Have you looked beyond yourself, even beyond your own lifetime, as you’ve sought your vision? If not, you may be missing your true potential and life’s best for you. —The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader
MAKE SURE YOUR VISION CONTAINS ALL THAT IT MUST FOR YOU TO REACH YOUR POTENTIAL.
Source: Maxwell, John C. (2008-10-28). The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You (Kindle Locations 5088-5102). Thomas Nelson – A. Kindle Edition.
Prayer and Leadership
I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone. 1 Timothy 2:1
The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer. And yet the most advanced leader is conscious of the possibility of endless development in his prayer life. Nor does he ever feel that he has “already attained.” Dean C. J. Vaughan once said: “If I wished to humble anyone, I should question him about his prayers. I know nothing to compare with this topic for its sorrowful self-confessions.”
Prayer is the most ancient, most universal, and most intensive expression of the religious instinct. It includes the simplest speech of infant lips, and the sublime entreaties of older age. All reach the Majesty on high. Prayer is indeed the Christian’s vital breath and native air.
But, strange paradox, most of us find it hard to pray. We do not naturally delight in drawing near to God. We sometimes pay lip service to the delight and power of prayer. We call it indispensable; we know the Scriptures call for it. Yet we often fail to pray.
Let us take encouragement from the lives of saintly leaders who overcame this natural reluctance and became mighty in prayer. Of Samuel Chadwick it was said: He was essentially a man of prayer. Every morning he would be astir shortly after six o’clock, and he kept a little room which was his private sanctum for his quiet hour before breakfast. He was mighty in public prayer because he was constant in private devotion. . . . When he prayed he expected God to do something. “I wish I had prayed more,” he wrote toward the end of his life, “even if I had worked less; and from the bottom of my heart I wish I had prayed better” (N.G. Dunning, Samuel Chadwick. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1934, 19).
“When I go to prayer,” confessed an eminent Christian, “I find my heart so loath to go to God, and when it is with Him, so loath to stay.” Then he pointed to the need for self-discipline. “When you feel most indisposed to pray, yield not to it,” he counseled, “but strive and endeavor to pray, even when you think you cannot.”
Mastering the art of prayer, like anything else, takes time. The time we give it will be a true measure of its importance to us. We always find the time for important things. The most common excuse for little time spent in prayer is the list of “to-dos” that crowd our day—all our many duties. To Martin Luther, an extra load of duties was reason enough to pray more, not less. Hear his plans for the next day’s work: “Work, work from early till late. In fact I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” If Luther was busy, and prayed, so can we.
Try to explain exactly how prayer works and you will quickly run against some very difficult puzzles. But people who are skeptical of prayer’s validity and power are usually those who do not practice it seriously or fail to obey when God reveals His will. We cannot learn about prayer except by praying. No philosophy has ever taught a soul to pray. The intellectual problems associated with prayer are met in the joy of answered prayer and closer fellowship with God.
The Christian leader who seeks an example to follow does well to turn to the life of Jesus Himself. Our belief in the necessity of prayer comes from observing His life. Surely if anyone could have sustained life without prayer, it would be the very Son of God Himself. If prayer is silly or unnecessary, Jesus would not have wasted His time at it. But wait! Prayer was the dominant feature of His life and a recurring part of His teaching. Prayer kept His moral vision sharp and clear. Prayer gave Him courage to endure the perfect but painful will of His Father. Prayer paved the way for transfiguration. To Jesus, prayer was not a hasty add-on, but a joyous necessity.
In Luke 5:16 we have a general statement which throws a vivid light on the daily practice of the Lord. “And He withdrew Himself in the deserts and prayed.” It is not of one occasion but of many that the evangelist speaks in this place. It was our Lord’s habit to seek retirement for prayer. When He withdrew Himself from men, He was accustomed to press far into the uninhabited country—He was in the deserts. The surprise of the onlookers lay in this, that one so mighty, so richly endowed with spiritual power, should find it necessary for Himself to repair to the source of strength, that there He might refresh His weary spirit. To us, the wonder is still greater, that He, the prince of Life, the Eternal word, the Only-begotten of the Father, should prostrate Himself in meekness before the throne of God, making entreaty for grace to help in time of need (D.M. McIntyre, The Prayer Life of Our Lord. London: Morgan & Scott, n.d., 30–31).
Christ spent full nights in prayer (Luke 6:12). He often rose before dawn to have unbroken communion with His Father (Mark 1:35). The great crises of His life and ministry began with periods of special prayer, as in Luke 5:16: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”—a statement that indicates a regular habit. By word and example He instructed His disciples on the importance of solitude in prayer (Mark 6:46, following the feeding of the five thousand; Luke 9:28, preceding the Transfiguration). To the person on whom devolves the responsibility for selecting personnel for specific spiritual responsibilities, the example of the Lord’s spending the night in prayer before making His choice of apostles (Luke 6:12) is luminous.
Both our Lord and His bond slave Paul made clear that true prayer is not dreamy reverie. “All vital praying makes a drain on a man’s vitality. True intercession is a sacrifice, a bleeding sacrifice,” wrote J. H. Jowett. Jesus performed miracles without a sign of outward strain, but “he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7).
Sometimes our prayers are pale and weak compared to those of Paul or Epaphras. “Epaphras . . . is always wrestling in prayer for you,” wrote Paul in Colossians 4:12. And to the same group: “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you” (Colossians 2:1). The Greek word used for “struggle” here is the root for our words “agony” and “agonize.” It is used to describe a person struggling at work until utterly weary (Colossians 1:29) or competing in the arena for an athletic prize (1 Corinthians 9:25). It describes a soldier battling for his life (1 Timothy 6:12), or a man struggling to deliver his friends from danger (John 18:36). True prayer is a strenuous spiritual exercise that demands the utmost mental discipline and concentration.
We are encouraged to note that Paul, probably the greatest human champion of prayer, confessed, “We do not know what we ought to pray for.” And then he hastened to add, “The Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26–28). The Spirit joins us in prayer and pours His supplications into our own.
Pray in the Spirit
All Christians need more teaching in the art of prayer, and the Holy Spirit is the master teacher. The Spirit’s help in prayer is mentioned in the Bible more frequently than any other help He gives us. All true praying comes from the Spirit’s activity in our souls. Both Paul and Jude teach that effective prayer is “praying in the Spirit.” That phrase means that we pray along the same lines, about the same things, in the same name, as the Holy Spirit. True prayer rises in the spirit of the Christian from the Spirit who indwells us.
To pray in the Spirit is important for two reasons. First, we are to pray in the realm of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the sphere and atmosphere of the Christian’s life. In this we often fail. Much praying is physical rather than spiritual, in the realm of the mind alone, the product of our own thinking and not of the Spirit’s teaching. But real prayer is deeper. It uses the body, requires the cooperation of the mind, and moves in the supernatural realm of the Spirit. Such praying transacts its business in the heavenly realm.
Second, we are to pray in the power and energy of the Spirit. “Give yourselves wholly to prayer and entreaty; pray on every occasion in the power of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18 NEB). For its superhuman task, prayer demands more than human power. We have the Spirit of power as well as the Spirit of prayer. All the human energy of heart, mind, and will can achieve great human results, but praying in the Holy Spirit releases supernatural resources. The Spirit delights to help us pray. In each of our three chief handicaps, we can count on the Spirit’s help. Sometimes we are kept from prayer by sin in our heart. As we grow in trust and submission, the Holy Spirit leads us to the blood of Christ, which cleanses every stain.
Sometimes the ignorance of our minds hinders our prayers. But the Spirit knows the mind of God and shares that knowledge with us as we wait and listen. The Spirit does this by giving us a clear conviction that a particular prayer request is part of God’s will for us, or not.
Sometimes we are earthbound because of the infirmity of the body. We get sick, we feel ill, we are weak. The Spirit will quicken our bodies and enable us to rise above weaknesses, even those imposed by sultry tropical climates.
Then, as if these three conditions were not enough, the spiritual leader must oppose Satan in prayer. Satan will try to depress, to create doubt and discouragement, to keep a leader from communion with God. In the Holy Spirit, we have a heavenly ally against this supernatural foe.
Spiritual leaders should know the experience of praying in the Spirit as part of their daily walk. Do we ever try to live independently of the Spirit? Do we fail to see full answers to prayer? We can read all day about prayer, and experience little of its power, and so stunt our service.
The Bible often explains prayer as spiritual warfare. “For our struggle is . . . against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). In this struggle phase of prayer, three personalities are engaged. Between God and the devil stands the Christian at prayer. Though weak alone, the Christian plays a strategic role in the struggle between the dragon and the Lamb. The praying Christian wields no personal power, but power nonetheless delegated by the victorious Christ to whom that faithful believer is united by faith. Faith is like a reticulating system through which the victory won on Calvary reaches the devil’s captives and delivers them from darkness into light.
Jesus was not so much concerned over wicked people and their deeds as with the forces of evil that caused those people to sin. Behind Peter’s denial and Judas’s betrayal was the sinister hand of Satan. “Get thee behind me, Satan,” was the Lord’s response to Peter’s presumptuous rebuke. All around us are people bound in sin, captives to the devil. Our prayers should ascend not only for them but against Satan who holds them as his prize. Satan must be compelled to relax his grip, and this can only be achieved by Christ’s victory on the cross.
As Jesus dealt with sin’s cause rather than effect, so the spiritual leader should adopt the same method in prayer. And the leader must know how to help those under his charge who are also involved in that same spiritual warfare.
In a telling illustration, Jesus compared Satan to a strong man, fully armed. Before anyone can enter such a man’s house and set captives free, the man must first be bound. Only then can a rescue succeed (Matthew 12:29). What could it mean to “tie up the strong man” except to neutralize his might through the overcoming power of Christ who came “to destroy (nullify, render inoperative) the works of the devil”? And how can that happen except by the prayer of faith that lays hold of the victory of Calvary and claims it for the problem at hand? We cannot hope to effect a rescue from Satan’s den without first disarming the adversary. God makes available His divine authority through prayer, and we can confidently claim it. Jesus promised His disciples: “I have given you authority . . . to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).
The spiritual leader will be alert to the most effective way to influence people. Hudson Taylor is well known for his expression, “It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.” During his missionary career he demonstrated the truth of his claim a thousand times.
It is one thing to believe such power is available in prayer, but another thing to practice it. People are difficult to move; it is much easier to pray for things or provisions than to deal with the stubbornness of the human heart. But in just these intricate situations, the leader must use God’s power to move human hearts in the direction he believes to be the will of God. Through prayer the leader has the key to that complicated lock.
It is the supreme dignity and glory of the human creature to be able to say yes or no to God. Humans have been given free will. But this poses a problem. If by prayer we can influence the conduct of others, does such power encroach on free will? Will God temper one person’s freedom to answer another person’s prayer? It seems difficult to imagine. And yet, if prayers cannot influence the course of events, why pray?
The first point to make is that God is consistent with Himself always. God does not contradict Himself. When God promises to answer prayer, the answer will come—always in a manner consistent with divine nature, for “he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). No word or action from God will contradict any other word or action of God.
The second point in resolving these questions is that prayer is a divine ordinance. God has commanded prayer, and we can be confident that as we meet revealed conditions for prayer, answers will be granted. God sees no contradiction between human free will and divine response to prayer. When God commands us to pray “for kings and those in authority,” there is implied power to influence the course of men and events. If not, why pray? Our obligation to pray stands above any dilemma concerning the effects of prayer.
Third, we can know the will of God concerning the prayer we raise. Our capacity to know God’s will is the basis for all prayers of faith. God can speak to us clearly through our mind and heart. The Bible instructs us directly concerning the will of God on all matters of principle. In our hearts the Holy Spirit ministers to instruct us in the will of God (Romans 8:26–27). As we patiently seek the will of God concerning our petition, the Spirit will impress our minds and convince our hearts. Such God-given conviction leads us beyond the prayer of hope to the prayer of faith.
When God lays a burden on our hearts and thus keeps us praying, He obviously intends to grant the answer. George Mueller was asked if he really believed that two men would be converted, men for whom Mueller had prayed for over fifty years. Mueller replied: “Do you think God would have kept me praying all these years if He did not intend to save them?” In fact, both men were converted, one shortly after Mueller’s death (George Mueller [1805–1898] was a Plymouth Brethren leader who refused a salary, believing that God would supply his needs by prayer alone. He established an orphanage in Bristol for two thousand youngsters on the strength of prayer and promoted prayer during a seventeen-year world tour).
In prayer we deal directly with God and only in a secondary sense other people. The goal of prayer is the ear of God. Prayer moves others through God’s influence on them. It is not our prayer that moves people, but the God to whom we pray.
Prayer Moves The Arm That moves the world To bring deliverance down.
To move people, the leader must be able to move God, for God has made it clear that He moves people in response to prayer. If a scheming Jacob was given “power with God and with men,” then surely any leader who follows God’s prayer principles can enjoy the same power (Genesis 32:28).
Prevailing prayer that moves people is the outcome of a right relationship with God. The Bible is very clear on the reasons why prayers go unanswered, and every reason centers on the believer’s relationship with God. God will not cooperate with prayers of mere self-interest, or prayers that come from impure motives. The Christian who clings to sin closes the ear of God. Least of all will God tolerate unbelief, the chief of sins. “Anyone who comes to him must believe” (Hebrews 11:6). In all our prayers the paramount motive is the glory of God.
Great leaders of the Bible were great at prayer. “They were not leaders because of brilliancy of thought, because they were exhaustless in resources, because of their magnificent culture or native endowment, but because, by the power of prayer, they could command the power of God” (E. M. Bounds, Prayer and Praying Men. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1921). Edward McKendree Bounds [1835–1913] was an American Methodist Episcopal minister who served churches throughout the South. He was a captain in the Confederate army).
Article adapted from the classic work on Leadership by, J. Oswald Sanders (2007-05-01). Spiritual Leadership (Kindle Locations 1579-1736). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
About Dr. J.O. Sanders
Dr. John Oswald Sanders (October 17, 1902—October 24, 1992) was a general director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship (then known as China Inland Mission) in the 1950s and 1960s. He authored more than forty books on the Christian life. He became an elder statesman and worldwide conference speaker from his retirement until his death. Sanders was born in Invercargill, New Zealand and gained a law degree in 1922. He attended the Bible Training Institute in Auckland and joined its staff in 1926. In 1931, he married Edith Mary Dobson. Sanders left a promising law practice in his native New Zealand to serve as an instructor and administrator at the Bible College of New Zealand. In 1954 he became general director of the China Inland Mission and led the reorganization of the CIM into the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. He was instrumental in beginning many new missions projects throughout East. Upon his retirement in 1969, he continued to teach worldwide and to write prolifically.