SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP AND MATURITY - PART II
It is interesting that often those that God has chosen to be spiritual leaders never wanted the job and never aspired to it, while many who are leaders aspired to the position but were never called or chosen by God. It was the same when I was into martial arts many years ago. Those that considered themselves at the top of the class were actually less than the best and the best in the class never considered themselves at the top. Perhaps it was humility that made the difference.
Of course, the Lord Jesus spoke of humility as being one of the top, if not the top, characteristic of a leader in God's kingdom. In Matthew 18:4, He said, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." "And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Mt. 20:27. The word "servant" is actually the Greek word for "slave."
A slave or true servant is humble, obedient and never self-promoting. The Bible example is Joseph, who rather risked death or imprisonment after being falsely accused of attempted rape, than shame his master, Potiphar. That is what God is looking for in His leaders. Even Michael, the archangel, who was the most powerful warrior angel in God's kingdom, did not consider himself worthy to rebuke Satan. He said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke thee." Jude 9. He could have said, "I rebuke you," but he did not. Although God would have come to Michael's aid at any time and the angel was more powerful than any other creation of God (except for the people of God), Michael pointed to the Lord as his Master and source of strength. Michael, the archangel, always spoke what the Lord said and not what Michael said. "The Lord rebuke thee." What a powerful and humble statement!
THE WILL OF GOD
A true leader of God's people is one who seeks the fellowship of God. He dares not impose his own will upon others. His goal is to do the will of the Father and Son. Jesus said, "I came not to do my will, but the will of Him that sent Me." Jn. 6:38. The Lord Jesus did not speak of His own. He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do; for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." Jn. 5:19. He never did anything but what the Father did or showed Him to do. Doing the will of the Father was the Lord's sole intention. Even dying on the cross was an act of obedience. Until the very end, the Lord Jesus upheld the authority of the Father in heaven.
Jesus also said, "... I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him. . . I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things." Jn. 8: 26, 28. Jesus was the conduit through which the Father could speak to the world and do the things that the Father showed Jesus to do. Likewise, the Lord has called us to be the conduits through which the Holy Spirit can speak and do. The apostle Paul put it this way: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20.
Any true leader in the kingdom of God on earth must seek the will of the Father and the Son. In order to do the will of the Father and the Son, one must have a close relationship with the Father and the Son. Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me." Jn. 1:4.
Even protection against the enemy requires that we abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Ps. 91:1, 4. In order to hide under His wings and be covered with His feathers, one must be humble and contrite of spirit. Ps. 34:18; Ps. 51:17; Is. 57:15. Humility is the nature of God. Mt. 11:29. Anyone who seeks honor from men and not from God is disqualified. Jn. 5:44.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
A church without the Holy Spirit cannot be a true church of Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that brings life. The Holy Spirit was the One who brought Jesus back from the dead and gave Him life. Ro. 8:11. The church without the Holy Spirit is dead. It was the Holy Spirit that took Jesus into the clouds and it will be the Holy Spirit that will bring Jesus back. It is the Holy Spirit that casts out devils, heals the sick and raises the dead. Without the Holy Spirit, no one can do those things.
The Holy Spirit has to become the most important person in your life and especially in the life of the leader of God's people. It is the Holy Spirit that is your teacher and your guide. Only He can teach you spiritual things that no man can teach. 1 Jn. 2:27. It is the Holy Spirit that tells you what to preach or teach and what to do. It is the Holy Spirit that guides and reveals the Father and Son. It is the Holy Spirit that shows you truth and gives you revelation. Without Him, no one can be a true leader of the kingdom of God. He would be a mere usurper.
It is the Holy Spirit that enables you to love and to have wisdom. It is the Holy Spirit that protects you from harm. Without the Holy Spirit, our sermons are lifeless and we would have no anointing to cast out devils, heal and speak in new tongues. The first apostles were able to do miracles because of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, all we have is dead religion. Like the golden calf in the days of Moses and Aaron, all we can do is dance naked around it. Ex. 32:4-8, 25. We cannot hear or see in the spirit. All we know is the flesh.
A true leader in the kingdom of God is one who is born of the Spirit, speaking in new tongues, casting out devils, healing the sick and doing signs and wonders through the Spirit of God. Mk. 16:17-18; Ac. 5:12; Ac. 8:6-7 (Philip was an evangelist). Although most of the body of Christ have ignored these scriptures, they are still in effect today.
THE WILL OF GOD
True leaders of God's people are in the place of judges, as in the Old Testament. God appointed people He could speak directly to and who would do His will. When the people desired an earthly king, Samuel, the prophet, was displeased. 1 Sa. 8:6. He knew that the people no longer wanted to be guided by God through His judges. They wanted an earthly king that could not hear from God and who was disobedient, a person who would listen to the people instead. God raised up David, the son of Jessie, who would do all of God's will. Ac. 13:22. David was so cherished by God that He promised that there would always be a son of David on the throne. Jer. 33:17. When Jesus came, He declared that He was the root and offspring of David. Rev. 22:16. But soon, the earthly kings that followed fell into disobedience once more, as they sought the honor of men rather than God.
A true spiritual leader will seek the will of God. Solomon gave a glimmer of hope when he asked God for wisdom to govern God's people. 2 Chr. 1:10. At least, that wisdom would come from God and allow God to speak through Solomon to the extent that Solomon would seek God's counsel. In his latter days, however, King Solomon no longer sought the counsel and wisdom of God and fell into idolatry and the worship of strange Gods. 1 Ki. 11:4.
When Jesus returned to heaven, He gave us the Holy Ghost so that we will know the will of God. We can only know the will of God through the Holy Ghost. While the Bible can give us the general will of God, it cannot provide us with daily or specific guidance. Without the Holy Spirit of God, man is left with his own devices of the flesh. While mankind may be able to erect huge structures and call it "church," raise large sums of money and property in the name of God, and produce a large following or congregation, his successes are worldly and dead. He cannot mature the saints or obey the will of God because he is incapable of knowing the spiritual things of God.
In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said that "no one shall enter into the kingdom of God but he that does the will of My Father who is in heaven."
Even "born-again" ministries that claim to be born of the Spirit largely ignore the Spirit and seek the favor of men. The spirit of Legalism has entered and most Pentecostal-type churches are no longer the miracle-producing people that birthed the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900's. Instead, they now mimic the deadness of churches that do not believe in the existence or ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Years ago, I was invited to Vanuatu in a place called Louganville. I gave a spiritual warfare seminar in a Pentecostal-type Bible college there. When I walked to the classroom, the students in the hallways were quiet and solemn. No one smiled or greeted me. When we started to worship God, there was absolutely no life in the group - no clapping, lifting of hands to heaven, dancing or smiles. The songs were old Christian standards that reminded me of my early years with the Anglican Church and the Baptist Church in Hawaii. During the class break, none of the students approached any of our team members or me. Usually, seminar participants crowd around us, sit down and engage us in conversation, curious and full of questions, smiling and shaking our hands. My spirit was agitated. Finally, I approached the pastor and dean of the Bible college and began questioning him.
He related that Vanuatu is a Christian country and the local unity council democratically spreads the opportunities among the various churches, which included all the churches in the area. Every governmental holiday or dedication was handled by a different church. The pastor's "born-again, Spirit-filled" church was appointed to handle the dedication of the local airport. During the dedication, his church, being a typical Pentecostal church, jubilantly clapped their hands, danced to the music and sang loudly. They dressed in ordinary clothes and shouted praises to the Lord and "Amens," "Halleluias" and "Yes!". Following the occasion, the Evangelical churches in the area widely criticized the Pentecostals for being unruly, undisciplined, out of control and embarrassing.
Because of the criticisms, the pastor's church began to sing more formal songs, require that everyone dress in their Sunday best for meetings and refrain from clapping, dancing and shouting praises. They bought gowns for the choir and reinstated a formal program during Sunday services, marched in a solemn processional and recessional, and required that everyone become more "civilized."
As a result, this Pentecostal, Holy Spirit filled church had become lifeless. They were Spirit-filled only in name. When class resumed, I pointed out that there was no anointing in the class, that the Holy Spirit was grieved. I had the pastor pick up his guitar and start playing a modern Christian praise song. I began to clap and sing loudly, shouting praises to God, jumping up and down and dancing. My wife and I locked arms and danced wildly. Soon, the students began to dance and clap and the place erupted. We bound up the spirit of legalism and formalism and the Holy Spirit fell on the people. People were slain in the Spirit, smiles broke out everywhere as the people were set free. The liberty in the Spirit had returned.
We went to Bakersfield, California a few years ago and ministered in a Pentecostal-type church there. The spirit of legalism and formalism rules the city. There are many churches in Bakersfield and you cannot tell the difference between a born-again, Spirit-filled church and an Evangelical church. They all have their bulletin boards with written announcements and a program for the next service. Their services are exactly the same, with guest speakers, performances, guest singers and choirs. The people sit in pews and are formal and stiff. There is no anointing. Competition among churches is fierce and they freely criticize one another. There is no liberty.
Once in a while, a spirit-filled leader bursts on the scene and holds everyone in awe with his ability to heal, preach and even cast out devils. His ministry becomes huge. But greed, pride and sexual lust gnaw at him and he begins to accumulate earthly wealth, wear expensive clothes and jewelry, ride expensive cars and live in penthouses. He may fall to sexual lust and disgrace the body of Christ. Thus, even where one has the Holy Spirit in him, he can fall because of lack of attention, seeking or worshipping. The hunger for God dissipates with success and he gradually comes to ignore the Spirit. He seeks the honor of men rather than God.
At the end of the world, those that do not have the Holy Spirit in them or who have not developed a strong and abiding relationship with Him are vulnerable to the wiles of the devil. On the other hand, God will raise up a remnant that are so filled with power that they will bear witness to the world that Jesus lives in them and lives their lives for them. The two groups of witnesses in Revelation 11 will be given incredible power through the Holy Spirit until they willingly give up their lives. In Revelation 20:4, the martyrs of God that will likely be the two groups of witnesses who will sit on thrones and judge. True spiritual leadership will be re-instated in the kingdom of God.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
A true leader of God manifests the fruit of the Spirit and is known for his love more than anything else. People will sense his love for the people more than any other trait. This love, however, is not the mushy, emotional and always-sweet and smiley kind. It is also a tough love that demands spiritual perfection in Christ and a devotion to truth and purity. It is not a manipulative, controlling kind of leadership, but a deep concern for the sheep. A true leader will always point his sheep towards Jesus and the cross of Jesus. He is not concerned about money, big buildings, large congregations or ministry. He just wants to obey God. After all, Jesus said that if a man love Him, he will obey His commandments and words.
Love is the source of all the other parts of the fruit of the Spirit. We notice that the Bible uses the singular "fruit" and not the plural "fruits." It is one, complete fruit, inseparable from its many parts and all part of one fruit.
THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
Mark 16:17-18 says, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." To speak in new tongues, cast out devils, heal the sick and possess supernatural protection indicate that the gifts of the Spirit are in action. This passage applies to all Christians and represent the minimum level of attainment in Christ. The church has drifted far away from the standards created by God.
A true leader of God's people not only teaches the Word; he ministers the Word and demonstrates the gifts, signs and wonders that mark him as a leader. He casts out devils, heals the sick, baptizes in the Holy Ghost and exhibits the wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give. He walks in revelation from God.
A LEADER'S GOAL
A leader's first goal is to obey God. As a shepherd, his next goal is to produce Christians perfect in the image of Jesus Christ. The size of the church, the money and assets, the fame and the recognition do not enter his mind. He is only concerned with obedience to God. He does not preach for results; he preaches to obey God. The results are God's business. If he can produce at least one or even two spiritually mature saints in the image of Christ, he will have done his job.
Thus, we come to a number of important conclusions: (1) true spiritual leadership requires humility; (2) the Holy Spirit must be the most important person in the leader's life; (3) a true leader seeks to both know and do the specific will of God and is not concerned about criticisms and persecutions from other churches or the public; (4) a true leader of God seeks honor from God and not man; and (5) a true leader seeks spiritual maturity in himself and in his flock and obedience to God.