Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part One


Praising GodOne day on the streets of our city, a young man about the age of 20 was asked this question by an interviewer: “What is a leader?”  The young man thought about it for a minute and responded, “I think it’s a little more than a gallon…”

Well, I don’t think this is exactly the definition that the interviewer had in mind. The shortest definition for leadership that I’ve ever heard is that “leadership is influence” taught by John Maxwell. Great military leader, Bernard Montgomery, defined leadership as “the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence.”

The Leadership Mandate From God

Regardless of whether or not you and I know the definition of leadership, in the kingdom of God, we are all natural born leaders because God created us in His image and He has given all of us a mandate to lead. Genesis 1:27-28 affirms our leadership mandate stating, “God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’”

It is clear from the biblical account of creation that men and women are natural born leaders. However, to be a spiritual leader in the kingdom of God, it takes more than just God’s mandate to lead. Spiritual leaders in the kingdom of God are also anointed by the Holy Spirit to lead and they are appointed to lead in spiritual service by God alone.  J. Oswald Sanders says this about spiritual leadership, “Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them.” In John 15:16 Jesus told His disciples, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.”

The Difference Between Natural Leadership And Spiritual Leadership

According to Mr. Sanders, there is a significant difference between natural leadership and spiritual leadership. Many of the differences are highlighted below:

  • Natural Leaders are self-confident              
  • Spiritual Leaders are confident in God
  • Natural leaders know men                          
  • Spiritual leaders know God
  • Natural leaders make their own decisions                       
  • Spiritual leaders seek God’s will
  • Natural leaders are ambitious                    
  • Spiritual leaders are humble
  • Natural leaders create methods                 
  • Spiritual leaders follow God’s example
  • Natural leaders enjoy command                              
  • Spiritual leaders delight in obedience to God
  • Natural leaders seek personal reward                                 
  • Spiritual leaders love God and others
  • Natural leaders are independent                            
  • Spiritual leaders are dependent on God

Regarding the process by which God qualifies spiritual leaders to lead in His kingdom, Mr. Sanders writes, “Often truly authoritative leadership falls on someone who years earlier dedicated themselves to practice the discipline of seeking first the kingdom of God. Then, as that person matures, God confers a leadership role, and the Spirit of God goes to work through him. When God’s searching eye finds a person qualified to lead, God anoints that person with the Holy Spirit and calls him to a special ministry.”

The Outward Physical Expression Of Inside Spiritual Growth

After my return home as a prodigal son back into my heavenly Father’s arms, the Lord began to privately develop my spiritual leadership as I intimately pursued Him in close personal relationship. However, during that time, to the casual observer of my physical activities on the outside, I may have seemed like just another Type A over-achiever; but, on the inside, God was doing a deep restorative work in my soul, preparing me for true spiritual leadership and service in His kingdom. People who knew me during those days might recall how much weight I lost and all of the physical training that I was doing in preparation for an Ironman triathlon. It took 3 years of training for the Ironman and most of that time, I didn’t tell many people that I was even training for an Ironman.

I first started training with 14 miles of outdoor riding, then training for the two-day 75 mile MS Tour Ride, then a back-to-back ADA century ride, then run training for my first half marathon, then a full marathon, then my first sprint triathlon, then an Olympic triathlon, then a half Ironman triahthlon, then a second half Ironman triathlon, and then the full Ironman triathlon. Then two and a half years later, the 3,000 mile Race Across America – the world’s toughest bicycle race.

You might ask yourself, what in the world was he doing all that for? I can imagine that many people may have thought that I was trying to find an identity outside of Christ through over-achieving activities. I can truly understand how some might think that to be true of me during that time in my life. And to state the obvious, it does take a lot of effort to do an Ironman triathlon and ride a bike across America. However, for me it was more than just the effort and the rewards attached to those significant physical achievements in my life. By the sufficiency of God’s grace freely given to me through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I can say with purity of heart and a clean conscience before the Lord that I had nothing to prove or anything to earn by such physical pursuits. The truth is that all of my physical training at that time was simply an outward expression of my spiritual training on the inside as I sought to love Jesus with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, learned how to walk more closely with Him, and diligently pursued His kingdom.  

The Mirror Between Physical Disciplines And Spiritual Disciplines

While people could easily see my physical training on the outside at that time, unless you knew me well, most people couldn’t see my spiritual training on the inside during that same time. I was not only training in the physical realm through the pursuit and practice of physical disciplines, I was also training in the spiritual realm through the pursuit and practice of spiritual disciplines beginning with my water baptism, then my freedom weekend retreat, my daily prayer meetings with God, my daily devotions in the word of God, my writing of hundreds of bible verses on note cards to memorize in prayer, my weekly praise and worship to God with tears and weeping, my faithful participation in small group no matter what, my completion of the Biblical Foundations class, my faithful serving in the parking lot every other weekend, my leading of small group every week, my engagement in the prison ministry at Rayburn Correctional Center, my 1 day, 3 day, 5 day, 7 day, 10 day, and 21 day fasts, my mission trip to South Africa, my daily prostration on the altar of God as a living sacrifice crying out to God to know me, search me, and change me from the inside out.

The Spiritual Leadership Development Sharpening Process

What was God doing in me during that time? Through the process of developing the physical disciplines necessary to complete an Ironman triathlon and the simultaneous pursuit of the spiritual disciplines necessary for growing in Christ, I was learning the principle of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.” Throughout the three years of training for Ironman, I did not train alone, but rather trained with one of my best friends in life. Committed to run the race of life together, we both trained for Ironman, sharpening one another, so that we could both strongly cross the finish line. And we did. Additionally, I can tell you that during those physical training days with my friend, I was also being sharpened spiritually with the help of my awesome Pastors. In their good hands, I was being taught how to pursue God and live for Him as a spiritual leader in His kingdom. I now stand today with a healthy fear of the Lord, amazed at His faithfulness in my life, and humbled by His grace to give me the opportunity to be a spiritual leader in His kingdom…a tremendous privilege I do not take lightly.

I share this personal story to emphasize that spiritual leadership development only happens through the diligent pursuit of a real personal relationship with God and other spiritual leaders in His kingdom. Must you complete an Ironman to become an impactful spiritual leader in God’s kingdom? Certainly not! But you must love Jesus with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength as well as seek first His kingdom and all of His righteousness in your life. As Christ followers, none of us are exempt from pursuing and practicing the spiritual disciplines necessary to grow us as spiritual leaders in God’s kingdom. If we truly desire for the Lord to mature us, qualify us, appoint us, and anoint us as impactful spiritual leaders in His kingdom, nothing less than loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength will do.

To His glory, have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God– Part One Copyright 2013, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part One , in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Inheriting The Promises Of God


Hebrews 6:11-12 “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” NKJV

Do you know that inheriting the promises of God in our lives is more like a marathon race rather than a sprint race? Not sure. Well then, let me ask you to consider Noah. He didn’t build the ark in a day. It took more like 100 years to build the ark. Or what about David? He didn’t become king overnight. No, it took many years of running for his life before he became the king of Israel. Or how about Abraham? Did he become the father of many nations in a week?  No, he didn’t.  For each of these heroes of faith, it took a long time for the promises of God to be fulfilled in their respective lives.  Unfortunately, it is no different for you and I; therefore, the sobering reality is that inheriting the promises of God in our lives is definitely more like a marathon race and not a sprint race.

If you have ever run a 10k race (6.2 miles), a half marathon (13.1 miles), and a marathon (26.2 miles), you quickly discover that there is most definitely a difference between each of these races. In fact, running a marathon race versus a sprint race requires another whole level of discipline and painstaking diligence in order to successfully run the race to the end.  With that said, it’s interesting to me that the writer of Hebrews 6:11 says that we “should show the same diligence until the full assurance of hope until the end” indicating that the race of faith will require diligence to finish.

Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines diligence as: persevering application; being diligent is characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort : PAINSTAKING

In other words being diligent is not easy. Notice that I didn’t say doing diligence. Being diligent is not a doing work, but rather a PAINSTAKING being work in and through us as we run the race of faith and persevere in our faith to the full assurance of hope until the end. Furthermore, being diligent in a persevering application of faith requires patience. For example, constructing  a new building  takes a persevering application of faith and patience. Launching a new campus or a new business takes a persevering application of faith and patience. In fact James 1:4 states, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” NKJV

In my devotional studies, I’ve learned from Rick Renner’s, Sparkling Gems From The Greek, that the word patience comes from the Greek word hupomeno which means “having the kind of attitude that hangs in there no matter what, never gives up, refuses to surrender to obstacles, and turns down every opportunity to quit.” So then, let me ask this question. Where do you think this kind of staying power or patience comes from?  The Bible says that it comes from the Holy Spirit and is in fact one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 states,  “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” NLT 

When we have the Holy Spirit fruit of patience operating in our lives, nothing can stop us, nothing can break us, no challenge is too difficult for us, no opposition is too fearful, and no dream is too big…because God is WITH us and He is FOR us!

As an illustration let me share how the Holy Spirit fruit of patience helped me to successfully complete the 2007 Florida Ironman triathlon. In the days leading up to the race, I have to be honest that I was a little nervous and a lot afraid, especially when two nights before the race at the kick-off dinner for the athletes, a short video was shown of the prior year race.  I’m not sure if it was meant to encourage me or what, but what it did do was scare the heck out of me.  After watching 2,500 people run into the water like penguins at the north pole and start swimming out into the deep blue ocean one on top of the other for 2.4 miles, I thought…I’m gonna die.  And if I don’t die in the water…how in the world am I going to ride my bike 112 miles and THEN run a 26.2 mile marathon.  I couldn’t help but think, WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Seriously though, I had intimidating thoughts that I might not be able to finish the race. I also had fearful thoughts that my body might just shut down and quit on me.  Did I properly count the cost in my training or was I going to look foolish by not being able to finish what I started? Did I really hear from the Lord about doing the race or was I just trying to find my identity in something outside of Him? As I was wrestling with these questions in my mind the day before the race, the Lord encouraged me that He was with me and that the whole thing was about learning to be patient in Him…learning patience in the 3 years of training that it took to properly prepare for the Ironman and learning patience during the most significant physical challenge of my life at that time.  

So early in the morning around 4 am on Race day, I got up and went on the balcony of our condo overlooking the beach to spend time with the Lord and pray for the patience and strength I would need for the day in order to finish the race. I asked the Lord to be with me throughout the day and I prayed Isaiah 40:31 for His supernatural patience and strength during the race.

“But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

All through-out the race, I prayed this verse in my spirit, took my thoughts captive, and enjoyed my race with the Lord.  When I finished the swim, I was so excited that I had not actually drowned, I couldn’t stop thanking the Lord for being done with that stage and actually being alive… I finished the swim in 1 hr 18 minutes which was a great time for me.

On the bike, I was trained well and was staying disciplined to my heart rate training…no more than 78% of my maximum heart rate; however, 70 miles into the race, I experienced a sharp opposing headwind which caused me to have to drop my pace to around 15 mph instead of the 20 mph that I trained for and had set as a goal.  In fact, at mile 90, the headwind had been so persistent for 20 miles that I had to stop on side of the road to take a short break and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to get some needed strength and refreshment.

Do you know that when we are taking steps of faith and begin moving in the direction of God’s promises for our lives, it is very likely that we may experience opposition from the enemy; therefore, we must be prepared for it and respond with a continued persevering application of faith and patience. Plus, when we are in a long enduring season of faith, we have to remain disciplined in persevering applications of faith and patience if we are going to inherit the promises of God…because all seasons eventually change if we don’t give up. Daily prayer, bible reading, small group, fasting, praise, and refreshing in the Holy Spirit are all great spiritual disciplines that can help us build faith and patience on our journey towards the inheritance of God’s promises in our life. 

At mile 106, the headwind turned into an awesome tailwind and I finished the bike stage at 6 hrs and 15 min which was about 30 minutes later than my training goal.

As I started into the 26.2 mile marathon run, my wife and children along with my mother-in-law and father-in-law were all there to encourage me and cheer me on which was a huge boost for me.  And then 6.5 miles later, my parents, my sisters, my brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews were all at the other end of a 13.1 mile loop to continue cheering me on and encouraging me to finish the race.  Their encouragement and support reminded me of the great cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12:1 that watch us as we run the race of faith in Christ.  Hebrews 12:1-2 states,  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” NKJV

Having my family cheer and support me at critical stages of the race was a huge encouragement that helped me run the race with endurance.  It is the same way for each of us in our personal races of faith in Christ.  Having spiritual family there to support you in the midst of life’s challenges, obstacles, hopes, and dreams is a huge part of the endurance success factor.  As I ran and took each step towards the finish line, I continued praying in the spirit as I thanked God for my family, thanked God for the beautiful sunset, and thanked Him for the ability to actually run the race. In fact, when I crossed the finish line after a long race of 12 hrs and 53 minutes, I walked across the line with my arms raised in the air giving all praise and glory to my heavenly Father for being with me the whole way and giving me everything I needed to strongly finish the race. And lastly, it was a great joy to see my training partner also finish strong and cross the finish line fulfilling our mutual commitment to run the race of life together in the wisdom of Proverbs 27:17 which states in the New International Version of the Bible that “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.”  

Finishing Is Better Than Starting. Patience Is Better Than Pride

Topping it all off as God generally likes to do, later that week after the race was over, in my devotional time with the Lord, He led me to discover the scripture verse of Ecclesiastes 7:8 in the New Living Translation of the Bible which states, “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” How awesome is that?  As a certified finisher of the 2007 Florida Ironman, I can personally testify that finishing is certainly better than starting and patience is certainly better than pride. How much more awesome will it be when you and I inherit the fullness of the promises of God through faith and patience as we cross the finish line of our race of faith in Christ? So my prayer is that you will inherit the promises of God in your life through faith and patience by hanging in the race of faith no matter what, never giving up, refusing to surrender to obstacles, and turning down every opportunity to quit because God is with you and He is for you! Amen!

For a cool short video recap of the 2007 Florida Ironman race, Click Here.

Inheriting The Promises Of God Copyright 2012, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Inheriting The Promises Of God, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

The Make It Happen Moment ® Iron To Iron

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Quote: “Leaders learn best from other leaders!” – Bill Hybels

So what do you get when you put together a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run, all in the same day?  It’s called an Ironman triathlon – an endurance race that challenges its participants to the very core of their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual condition as they press forward to the prize of finishing the race.  Knowing people whom have successfully crossed the finish line, I have learned from their experience that it takes months of training, discipline, and commitment to develop what it takes to stay the course and complete a well-designed training plan.  To better frame the training process, it is important to understand that it requires much more than a walk in the park a couple of times per week.  It takes months and sometimes years to develop the physical stamina, mental toughness, emotional strength, and spiritual foundation to even legitimately qualify as a participant.  Because of the athletic excellence required to complete an Ironman event, training with and learning from an Ironman whom has already successfully done it, can make all the difference for the person training for an Ironman triathlon. 

So you may be saying to yourself, who cares about this Ironman stuff anyway.  I have no desire to paddle a canoe 2.4 miles much less swim 2.4 miles and then do those other extreme things. Well that may be true; however, did you know that it is the same process to become a person of leadership excellence, as it is to become a person of athletic excellence?  Commitment, perseverance, discipline, self-control, recovery, training, development, time, all of the elements of Ironman training, are also part of the training process for becoming a person of leadership excellence in your community, business, and home.  Excellent leadership is not a spectator sport; therefore, to become an excellent leader, you must invest time and personally participate in the training and development process.  Entering the realm of leadership without a serious commitment to leadership training and development is as foolish as entering the Ironman without a serious commitment to athletic training and development. 

Proverbs 27:17 teaches “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”; therefore, to become a leader of Ironman quality, find a leader with a spirit of excellence, connect with them, and learn from them.  Finding the right leadership mentors can make all the difference for the person developing as an excellent leader.  Moreover, freely teaching others what you have been freely taught fulfills the Law of Greatness in the kingdom of God – esteeming others greater than yourself.  Therefore, with a spirit of humility and generosity, freely mentor people into greater heights of leadership excellence and become a great leader of leaders that unleashes the extraordinary potential of others to make a real difference in life!

The Make It Happen Training And Development Value: “Make It Happen” People Invest And Participate In Training And Development!

Have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Edited by The Make It Happen Moment ® Editorial Team

The Make It Happen Moment ® Iron To Iron Copyright 2006, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint The Make It Happen Moment ® Iron To Iron, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

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