Are you restless? Are you self-controlled? Have you developed a thick skin? Are you articulate? Are you organized and efficient?
The above are questions that should be asked of and by any individual who hopes to spiritually lead a group of people. Of course they must also adhere to and be motivated by the word of God, but for this blogs purposes, let's focus on the above traits.
As a guy in my 20's who desires to be used of and by God to promote his Kingdom, who struggles daily with pride and understanding God's plan; I often have to ask myself one or more of these questions each week. I have leadership ambitions that are beyond what God currently wants me to do, and it is hard to dream big only to have a continual "wait" to my prayers to be used. John Piper says this about spiritual leadership:
"If you want to be a great leader of people, you have to get away from people at times to be with God."
If you are like me, you've probably been asked a lot of the above questions already and have had to prepare an answer for them. But what does it look like when you ask yourself these questions? Alone. Just you and God.
Often thought to be a form of discontentment among believers, restlessness simply could be the opposite of inertia. I think it pleases God to provided some with a restlessness; a craving for growth, whether its personal or public. Philippians 3:14 and Hebrews 12:1-2 talk about running a race that is set before us. Not staying immobile, but moving forward towards Christ.
Leaders long for the day they will not be hindered by their inabilities and their limitations. But sometimes the things that dominate us most and cause us to react, are the things that have control over us. 1 Corinthians 6:12 tells us to not be dominated by anything. When we appropriate control of our passions and inabilities to God and recognize him as having given them to us, we can claim victory.
If you set out to lead others, you will be opposed at some point. Are you ready to handle this humbly? 5 years ago i was incapable of handling any sort of feedback; good or bad. It still is a struggle to hear feedback on a project i have fully thrown myself into. But God calls us to seek His, not man's approval in Galatians. This is not to say that we have no obligation to adhere criticism. You'll want to be sure it is justified though.
Have you seen the Academy Award winning picture, The Kings Speech? In the film, King George VI must learn to articulate his thoughts and overcome his speech impediment. Sometimes leaders don't have the easiest time articulating. They either are great thinkers or great speakers. rarely both at the same time. Some leaders rip apart the opposition; some woo their followers. Spiritual leaders must learn to address others with compelling arguments, without appearing argumentative. Paul continuously prayed for clarity, Jeremiah lacked the skills when God called him to be a prophet as a boy and Moses was granted Aaron as a mouthpiece. God will provide. Just ask of Him.
Organized and Efficient.
This has truly been my greatest skill. I could spend hours organizing and reorganizing the things in my life. I dust my ceilings with a broom and constantly am making lists in my head. At work I struggle to sit in meetings that seem to lack conclusions. I plan months in advance and I plan to re-plan on a moments notice. Sometimes I struggle with being more efficient though. Am I doing to much and compromising my work? Could I have read that article while I brushed my teeth? (probably not, but these thoughts have crossed my mind.) Spiritual leaders are not the jellyfish of the sea-they are the dolphins.
So now that you have mine (and John Piper's) insights on spiritual leadership, ask yourself the above questions. Most importantly remember this.
"Those who wish to lead, must at one point be led."
"Love is Patient. Love is Kind."
Resources: The Marks of a Spiritual Leader. John Piper.2001.Minneapolis, MN.