Spiritual Leadership : Exhale the Holy Spirit
“Promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
But God puts down one, and raises up another.” Psalm 75: 6-7
Recently I completed reading a book that was in the back of my nightstand titled, “Spiritual Leadership” by J. Oswald Sanders. I noticed that the book was rather worn when I pulled it out and then saw that the copyright was 1974. Yes, that’s right, 1974! Contrary to what many of us have been led to believe, there is value and wisdom in older books. (I can think of one book in particular that is rather old and includes much wisdom!) I highlighted several great points and reminders for us all from the book and wanted to share some of them with you.
We find that true greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by subjugating others to one’s own service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them. The true spiritual leader is concerned infinitely more with the service he can render God and his fellow men than with the benefits and pleasures he can extract from life. He aims to put more into life then he takes out of it.
Simply holding a position of importance does not constitute a spiritual leader. Nor does taking courses in leadership or oneself resolving to become a leader. A religious position can be conferred by a congregation onto an individual, but not spiritual authority, which is the prime ingredient of Christian leadership. This comes – often unsought after – to those who in earlier life have proved themselves worthy of it by their faith, discipline, ability, and diligence. A spiritual leader needs to learn how to “exhale the Holy Spirit” in all trials and circumstances.
I found this quote by a former Salvation Army leader, Samuel Logan Brengle, to be very insightful. I particularly appreciated the final sentence where he points out the impact of a true spiritual leader who is empowered by Jesus [emphasis added]:
“It (Spiritual Leadership) is not won by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confessions of sin, and much heart searching and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold, deathless, uncompromising and uncomplaining embracing of the cross, and by eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. A real spiritual leader is a one whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth, and in hell!”
We often hear that leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others, and that is very true. One man can lead others only to the extent that he can influence them. The person most likely to be successful is the one who leads not by merely pointing the way but by having taken it himself. The spiritual leader influences others not by the power of his own personality alone but by that personality illuminated and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
As an innate teacher, I will conclude by asking you to take a brief self-quiz. Compare the characteristics of natural leadership and spiritual leadership in the table below. Take a moment to assess yourself by thinking about where you most often fall in terms of your leadership style and then ask the Holy Spirit to help you move more often into a spiritual leadership style. Our friends, coworkers, marriages, children, extended families, church, community, nation, and world are yearning for and desperately need more Christian spiritual leaders. Let’s all resolve to intentionally fill that void at Christ’s Greenfield! Be on the lookout for spiritual training opportunities that we will offer very soon in 2019!