Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part One

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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.

The Make It Happen Moment ® Special Election

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Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark

Quote: “Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them!” – J. Oswald Sanders

One morning my brother-in-law was mowing the lawn and saw his little 5-year-old boy, Jacob, standing on the neighbor’s patio in front of their patio glass door peering inside their house.  As my brother-in-law quietly walked over to see what Jacob was doing, he could hear the neighbor’s large dog inside the house barking loudly at Jacob.  Surprisingly, Jacob was not afraid of the barking dog. Instead, with his fire engine red hair, he was bent over staring squarely at the disgruntled dog – behind the glass door no matter – and saying, “You want a piece of me. You want a piece of me…”  Something tells me that my nephew is not only a very funny little boy, but also a future leader in the making!

When we look at the great spiritual leaders of the Bible like Noah, Elijah, and Paul, to name a few, there is one thing I observe that they all had in common.  Each of them were willing to stand strong in the face of adversity to complete the leadership assignment that God had specifically called each one of them to accomplish for Him. I believe the reason they were able to do this is not because of any natural courage they possessed as leaders, but rather because of their faith in God to supernaturally protect them, empower them, and provide for them everything they needed to fulfill God’s special call on their lives.  Each one of them possessed a supernatural courage that only comes from personally knowing God, obeying Him, and knowing that He was for them regardless of the adverse situations they had to face. If this was not so, Noah would have never been able to continue building the ark in the face of community ridicule, Elijah would have run scared from the prophets of Baal, and Paul would have wallowed in self pity as a shackled prisoner in chains. 

I’ve heard it said that just because a person stands in a garage, it doesn’t make them a car. Well, the same is true of spiritual leaders. Just because someone has a leadership position given by men, it doesn’t make them a spiritual leader anointed by God.  Spiritual leaders are specially elected and qualified by God alone through the purifying tests and trials of each person’s specific faith walk and supernatural calling in God.  Psalms 75:6-7 states, “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” Additionally, the Lord makes it clear in His Word that He establishes all positions of authority including spiritual authority. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 of The Living Bible states, “Everything in the heavens and earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your Kingdom. We adore You as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from You alone, and You are the Ruler of all mankind; Your hand controls power and might, and it is at Your discretion that men are made great and given strength.” Therefore, with a spirit of faith and humility, be the spiritual leader that God specifically makes you to be as He qualifies you completely to fulfill His special call and leadership assignment on your life!

The Make It Happen Servant Leadership Value: “Make It Happen” People Are Led By Servant Leaders!

Have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Edited by The Make It Happen Moment ® Editorial Team

The Make It Happen Moment ® Special Election Copyright 2010, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint The Make It Happen Moment ® Special Election, 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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