Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Spiritual Leadership ( 2 ) by J.Oswald Sanders

Have you ever broken yourself of a bad habit? To lead others, one must be master
of oneself. Do you retain control of yourself when things go wrong? The leader
who loses self-control in testing circumstances forfeits respect and loses
influence. He must be calm in crisis and resilient in adversity and disappointment.
Do you think independently? While using to the full the thought of others, the
leader cannot afford to let others do his thinking or make his decisions for him.
Can you handle criticism objectively and remain unmoved under it? Do you turn it to
good account? The humble man can derive benefit from petty and even malicious
criticism. Can you use disappointments creatively?
Do you readily secure the cooperation and win the respect and confidence of
others? An important function in leadership is conciliation—the ability to discover
common ground between opposing viewpoints and then induce both parties to
accept it. Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without
considering it a personal affront and reacting accordingly? Leaders must expect
opposition and should not be offended by it. Are you unduly dependent on the
praise or approval of others? Can you hold a steady course in the face of
disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?
A leader must allow himself no indulgence in secret that would undermine his
character or mar his public witness. It is unwise to give key positions too early
even to those who manifest promising talent, lest it spoil them. It should be
noted that Peter did not write as chief of the apostles, but as “a fellow Elder,” one
who was bearing similar responsibilities. He spoke to them not from above, but
from alongside—a good vantage ground for the exercise of leadership.
Dr. Paul Rees suggests that greed for money is not the only thought contained in
the Greek words “shameful gain.” The phrase might as appropriately be applied to
greed for popularity or fame, an equally insidious temptation. Prestige and power
are often coveted more than money. (40) The Christian leader must not be
dictatorial. “Not as domineering over those in your charge” (5:3a, C. B. Williams).
An ambitious leader can easily degenerate into a petty tyrant with a domineering
manner. “Even a little authority is prone to turn the seemly walk into the offensive

In each case these men were endowed with gifts which uniquely equipped them for
the special tasks to which they were later called. But that which raised them above
their fellows was the degree to which they developed these gifts and graces
through devotion and self-discipline. Those who rebel against authority and scorn
self-discipline seldom qualify for leadership of a high order. The young man of
leadership caliber will work while others waste time, study while others sleep, pray
while others play. There will be no place for loose or slovenly habits in word or
thought; deed or dress. He will observe a soldierly discipline in diet and
deportment, so that he might wage a good warfare. He will without reluctance
undertake the unpleasant task which others avoid, or the hidden duty which others
evade because it evokes no applause or wins no appreciation.
A Spirit-filled leader will not shrink from facing up to difficult situations or
persons, or from grasping the nettle when that is necessary. He will kindly and
courageously administer rebuke when that is called for; or he will exercise
necessary discipline when the interests of the Lord’s work demand it. He will not
procrastinate in writing the difficult letter. His letter-basket will not conceal the
evidences of his failure to grapple with urgent problems. His prayer will be:
Basically willing to respond cooperatively to the discipline he expects of them.
A leader must be able to envision the end result of the policies or methods he
advocates. Responsible leadership always looks ahead to see how policies proposed
will affect not only present, but succeeding generations. Speaking to Douglas
Thornton of Egypt, Mr. Baylis his senior missionary remarked: “Thornton, you are
different to anyone else I know. You are always looking at the end of things.
Most people, myself included, find it better to do the next thing.” Thornton’s
answer was: “I find that the constant inspiration gained by looking at the goal is
the chief thing that helps me to persevere.” Eyes that look are common. Eyes that
see are rare. The Pharisees looked at Peter and saw only a poor unlettered
fisherman, totally insignificant, not worthy of a second look.

Jesus saw Peter and discovered the prophet and preacher, saint and leader of the
unique band of men who turned the world upside down. Vision includes optimism and
hope. No pessimist ever made a great leader. The man who sees the
difficulties so clearly that he does not discern the possibilities will be unable to
impart inspiration to his followers. Wisdom is more than knowledge, which is
the accumulation of facts. It has a personal connotation and implies sagacity. It is
more than human acumen; it is heavenly discernment. It is knowledge with insight
into the heart of things, and knows them as they really are. It involves the
knowledge of God and of the intricacies of the human heart.
It is much more than knowledge; it is the right application of knowledge in moral
and spiritual matters, in meeting baffling situations and in the complexity of human
relationships. The place of wisdom in leadership was indicated in the statement of
D. E. Hoste: When a man, in virtue of an official position demands obedience of
another, irrespective of the latter’s reason and conscience, this is the spirit of
tyranny. When, on the other hand, by the exercise of tact and sympathy; by
prayer, spiritual power and sound wisdom one is able to influence and enlighten (52)
another, so that he through the medium of his own reason and conscience is led to
alter one course and adopt another, that is true spiritual leadership.
When all the facts are in, swift and clear decision is the mark of the true leader.
Once a spiritual leader is sure of the will of God, he will go into immediate action,
regardless of consequences. In pursuing his goal, he will have the courage to burn
his bridges behind him. He must be willing to accept full responsibility for
consequent failure or success, and not place any blame that might accrue on a
subordinate. The true leader will resist the temptation to procrastinate in
reaching a decision; nor will he vacillate after it has been made. These tendencies
are fatal to leadership. Usually, a sincere though mistaken decision is better than
no decision at all. In most decisions the difficult part is not in knowing what we
ought to do; it is in being willing to pay the price involved.
Courage is “that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger or
difficulty with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits.” The
courage of a leader is demonstrated in his being willing to face unpleasant and even
devastating facts and conditions with equanimity, and then acting with firmness in
the light of them, even though it means incurring personal unpopularity. Human
inertia and opposition do not deter him. His courage is not a thing of the moment,
but continues until the task is fully done.
The spiritual leader will choose the hidden pathway of sacrificial service and the
approval of His Lord rather than the flamboyant assignment and the adulation of
the unspiritual crowd.

1 comment:

Andrew Kenny said...

''The phrase 'shameful gain'might as appropriately be applied to greed for popularity or fame, an equally insidious temptation. Prestige and power are often coveted more than money.''

This truth is so important but sadly often not taken account by those who are in leadership-may it not be true of us.John Stott probably the most influential evangelical leaders of the 20th century was perhaps one of the most humble men I have ever met. He had more reason than most to be conceited yet he always sought to glorify Christ.

'The Christian leader must not be
dictatorial. “Not as domineering over those in your charge” (5:3a, C. B. Williams).
An ambitious leader can easily degenerate into a petty tyrant with a domineering
manner. “Even a little authority is prone to turn the seemly walk into the offensive
This is also really important because those if leaders fall into this trap those they have led will ultimately end up hating them and find out they have made the Lord their enemy.If they cause any of the little ones to stumble or they have lorded it over those under their care they could well end up opposing God.If that happens there is only one winner. If you have done this: while there is time get right with God and quickly make peace with those you have wounded.