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Chapter 10: Above All Else

Spiritual leadership requires Spirit-filled people. Other qualities are important; to be Spirit-filled is indispensable.

 These officers were to be known for integrity and judgement, but pre-eminently for their spirituality.

 Selecting leaders apart from spiritual qualifications leads always to unspiritual administration. A.T. Pierson compared such a situation to a large corporation that wants to oust its CEO. Slowly, in the board and among the directors and vice-presidents, people are placed who are opposed to the chief’s methods and spirit. They quietly antagonize his measures, obstruct his plans, thwart his policy. Where the chief once enjoyed co-operation and support, he now meets inertia and indifference, until at last he reigns from sheer inability to carry out policy. In the same way, appointing leaders with a secular or materialistic outlook prevents the Holy Spirit from making spiritual progress in that place.

 These early leaders of the church were sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. Because they had surrendered their own wills to the Spirit’s control, they were delighted to obey his promptings and leadings.

 To be filled with the Spirit means simply that the Christian voluntarily surrenders life and will to the Spirit. Through faith, the believer’s personality is filled, mastered and controlled by the Spirit. The meaning of ‘filled’ is not ‘to pour into a passive container’ but to ‘take possession of the mind’.

 To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. The Christian leader’s mind, emotions, will, and physical strength all become available for the Spirit to guide and use. Under the Spirit’s control, natural gifts of leadership are lifted to their highest power, sanctified for holy purpose. Through the work of the now ungrieved and unhindered Spirit, all the fruits of the Spirit start to grow in the leader’s life. His witness is more winsome, service more steady, and testimony more powerful. All real Christian service is but the expression of the Spirit’s power through believers yielded to Him. If we pretend to be filled, or hold back on our willingness to let the Spirit control us, we create the kind of trouble A.W. Tozer warns against:

 No one whose senses have been exercised to know good or evil can but grieve over the sight of zealous souls seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit while they are living in a state of moral carelessness and borderline sin. Whoever would be indwelt by the Spirit must judge his life for many hidden iniquities. He must expel from his heart everything that is out of accord with the character of god as revealed by the Holy Scriptures…. There can be no tolerance of evil, no laughing off the things that God hates.

 The filling of the Spirit is essential for spiritual leadership. And each of us is as full of the Spirit as we really want to be.

 Spiritual Gifts:

The coming of spiritual gifts in the life of the Christians does not eliminate natural gifts, but enhances and stimulates them. New birth in Christ does not change natural qualities, but wen they are placed under the control of the Holy Spirit, they are raised to new effectiveness. Hidden abilities are often released. The one called by God to spiritual leadership can be confident that the Holy Spirit has given him or her all necessary gift for the service at hand.

 Chapter 11: Prayer and Leadership

 The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer.

 “When I go to prayer,” confessed an eminent Christian, “I find my heart so loath to go to God and when it is with Him, so loath to stay.” Then self-discipline has a role. “When you feel most indisposed to pray, yield not to it,” he counselled, “but strive and endeavour to pray, even when you think you cannot.”

 True prayer is a strenuous spiritual exercise that demands the utmost mental discipline and concentration.

 Praying in the Spirit – that phrase means that we pray along the same lines, about the same things, in the same name, as the Holy Spirit. True prayer rises in the spirit of the Christian from the Spirit who indwells us.

 Spiritual leaders should know the experience of praying in the Spirit as part of their daily walk. Do we ever try to live independently of the Spirit? Do we fail to see full answers to prayer? We can read all day about prayer, and experience little of its power, and so stunt our service.

 Jesus was not so much concerned over wicked people and their deeds as with the forces of evil that cased those people to sin. As Jesus dealt with sin’s cause rather than effect, so the spiritual leader should adopt the same method in prayer.

 Hudson Taylor is well known for his expression, “It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone.”

 It is one thing to believe such power is available, but another thing to practice it. People are difficult to move; it is much easier to pry for things or provisions than to deal with the stubbornness of the human heart.

 To move people, the leader must be able to move God, for God has made it clear that He moves people in response to prayer. If a scheming Jacob was given “power” with God and with men,” then surely any leader who follows God’s prayer principles can enjoy the same power. Prevailing prayer that moves people is the outcome of a correct relationship with God.

 Chapter 12: The Leader and Time

 The way we employ the surplus hours after provision has been made for work, meals, and sleep will determine if we develop into mediocre or powerful pole. Leisure is a glorious opportunity and a subtle danger. Each moment of the day is a gift from God that deserves care, for by any measures, our time is short and the work is great.

 Hours and days will surely pass, but we can direct them purposefully and productively. Philosopher William James affirmed that the best use of one’s life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. Life’s value is not its duration, but its donation – not how long we live, but how fully and how well.

 A leader will seldom say, “I don’t have the time.” Such an excuse is usually the refuge of a small-minded and inefficient person. Each of us has the time to do the whole will of God for our lives. Our problem is not too little time, but making better use of the time we have.

 In the face of this sobering reality, the leader must carefully select priorities. He or she must thoughtfully weigh the value of different opportunities and responsibilities. The leader cannot spend time on secondary matters while essential obligations scream for attention. A day needs careful planning. The person who wants to excel must select and reject, then concentrate on the most important items.

 The secret of Jesus’ serenity lay in His assurance that He was working according to the Fathers’ plan for His life – a plan that embraced every hour and made provision for every contingency. Through communion in prayer with His Father, Jesus received each day both the words He would say and the works He would do. “The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”

 Conscious of time, Jesus spent His time doing things that mattered. No time was wasted on things not vital. The strength of moral character is conserved by refusing the unimportant.

 Often the pressure a spiritual leader feels comes from assuming tasks that God has not assigned; for such tasks the leader cannot expect God to supply the extra strength required.

 A leader needs a balanced approach to time lest it become his bondage and downfall. Without a grip on time, the leader works under unnecessary strain. Even when the leader has done the utmost to fulfill daily obligations, vast areas of work always remain. Every call for help is not necessarily a call from God, for it is impossible to respond to every need. If the leader sincerely plans his day in prayer, then executes the plan with all energy and eagerness, that is enough.  The rest he should trust to our loving and competent heavenly Father.

 Procrastination, the thief of time, is one of the devil’s most potent weapons for defrauding us of eternal heritage. The habit of ‘putting off’ is fatal to spiritual leadership. Its power resides in our natural reluctance to come to grips with important decisions. Making decisions, and acting on them, always requires moral energy. But the passing of time never makes action easier; quite the opposite. Most decisions are more difficult a day later, and you may also lose an advantage by such a delay. The nettle will never be easier to grasp than now.

 ‘Do it now’ is a motto that has led many people to worldly success, and it is equally relevant in spiritual matters. A helpful method for overcoming procrastination is to set deadlines, and never miss or postpone even one.

 Chapter 13: The Leader and Reading

 Reading maketh a full man; speaking, a ready man, writing, an exact man. Francis Bacon.

 Spiritual leaders of every generation will have a consuming passion to know the Word of God through diligent study and the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

 The leader who intends to grow spiritually and intellectually will be reading constantly.

 A.W. Tower said: Why does today’s Christian find the reading of great books always beyond him? Certainly intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another. We are as smart as our father, and any thought they could entertain we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort. The major cause of decline in the quality of current Christian literature is not intellect but spiritual. To enjoy a great religious book requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have. The early Christian Fathers, the Mystics, the Puritans, are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied, and none but the God-enamoured can come…. One reason why people are unable to understand great Christian classics is that they are trying to understand without any intention of obeying them.

 The spiritual leader should choose books for their spiritual benefit. Spiritual leaders should also read for intellectual growth. The leader should read to cultivate his preaching and writing style. The leader should read, too to acquire new information, to keep current with the time, to be well informed in his or her own field of expertise. The leader should read to have fellowship with great minds.

 Samuel Brengle said this about poetry: I like the poets whose writings reveal great moral character and passion – such as Tennyson’s and some of Browning’s. The work of others have light, but I prefer flame to just light. Shakespeare? A mind as clear as a sunbeam – but passionless, light without heat. Shelley? Keats? There’s a sense in which they were perfect poets, but they don’t move me. Beautiful – but wordmongers. There’s an infinite difference between the beauty of holiness and the holiness of beauty. One leads to the highest, loftiest, most Godlike character; the other often – too often – leads to an orgy of sensation.

 Muriel Ormrod counselled: And let us not comment on nor criticize writers of whom we have heard only second-hand, or third-hand, without troubling to read their works for ourselves…. Don’t be afraid of new ideas – and don’t be carried away with them either.

 Chapter 14: Improving Leadership


Every Christian is obligated to be the best he can be for God. Not every Christian is called to major leadership in the church, but every Christian is a leader, for we all influence others. All of us should strive to improve our leadership potential. The first step toward improvement is to recognize weaknesses, make corrections, and cultivate strengths. We may be reluctant to grasp the nettle of a difficult situation and deal courageously with it. Or we may procrastinate, hoping that problems will vanish with time. The mediocre leader postpones difficult decisions, conversation, and letters. Delay solves nothing, and usually makes problems worse.


First, “exert yourself to lead” (Romans 12:8). Barclay translates this phrase, “If called upon to supply leadership, do it with zeal.” Here is the summons to dive wholeheartedly into leadership, to serve with energy, to leave no room for sloth. Are we doing it?

 Our second present-tense verb in Romans 12 comes from verse 11: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.”

 The all-important thing to do is it:

  •  Improve the character of the work
  • Deepen the piety, devotion and success of the workers
  • Remove stones of stumbling, if possible
  • Oil the wheels where they stick
  • Amend whatever is defective
  • Supplement, as far as may be, what is lacking.


 Spiritual tone – to deepen the piety, devotion, and success of the worker. The tone of the church or mission will be a reflection of its leaders. Water rises to the level of its source. The spiritual health of the leadership group should be a top concern among higher echelon leadership.

 Group morale:

 Personal relationships’

 Problem solving;

 Creative planning;

 One more way to improve leadership potential: resist the idea of “leadership from the rear.” True leadership is always from the top down, never from the bottom up. It was leadership from the rear that led Israel back into the wilderness.

 Chapter 15: The Cost of Leadership

 To aspire to leadership in God’s kingdom requires us to be willing to play a price higher than others are willing to pay. The toll of true leadership is heavy, and the more effective the leadership the higher it goes.

 Self-Sacrifice: This part of the cost must be paid daily. A cross stands in the path of spiritual leadership, and the leader must take it up.  No cross – no leadership.


Nietzsche believed that life always gets harder toward the summit – the cold gets colder, the wind stronger, the burden of responsibilities heavier.


“The world is run by tired men.” Perhaps an overstatement, but there is a grain of reality here. The demands of leadership wear down robust person. But Christians know where to find renewal. “Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16). Even Jesus grew weary in ministry and had to rest (John 4:6). Jesus felt depleted in power, inner resources drained, when the needy woman touched His clothing (Mark 5:30). No lasting good can be accomplished without this expenditure of nervous energy and personal power.

 The spirit of the welfare state does not produce leaders. If a Christian is not willing to rise early and work late, to expend greater effort in diligent study and faithful work, that person will not change a generation. Fatigue is the price of leadership. Mediocrity is the result of never getting tired.


“There is nothing else that so kills the efficiency, capability and initiative of a leader a destructive criticism…. It tends to hamper and undercut the efficiency of man’s thinking process. It chips away at his self-respect and undermines his confidence in his ability to cope with his responsibilities.”

 “It does not matter what happens to us, but our reaction to what happens to us is of vital importance.” I think you must expect more and more criticism, for which increasing responsibility this is inevitable.

 But link indifference to human opinion with a weak spiritual life, and the result is disaster.

 “Often the crowd does not recognize a leader until he has gone, and then they build a monument for him with the stone they threw at him in life.”

 Pressure and Perplexity:

We naively think that the more we grow as Christians, the easier it will be to discern the will of God. But the opposite is often the case. God treats the mature leaders as a mature adult, leaving more and more to his or her spiritual discernment and giving fewer bits of tangible guidance than in earlier years. The resulting perplexity adds inevitably to a leader’s pressure.

 Chapter 16: The Responsibilities of Leadership

 The Son of God became the servant of God in order to do the mission of God. The true leader is concerned primarily with the welfare of others, not with his own comfort or prestige.

 Discipline is yet another responsibility of the leader. The fundamental ingredient in all discipline is love.

 Approaching a disciplinary situation, the leader must remember five guidelines:

first conduct a thorough and impartial inquiry

then consider the overall benefit to the work and to the individual

do all in the spirit of love and in the most considerate manner

always keep the spiritual restoration of the offender in view

pray it through

 Providing guidance is the third area of responsibility.

 It is not easy to guide people, even mature Christians, who have strong opinions of their own. The leader cannot assert his will recklessly.

 A leader must initiate.

 The leader must either initiate plans for progress or recognize the worthy plans of others. He must remain in front, giving guidance and direction to those behind. He does not wait for things to happen, but makes them happened. He is a self-starter, always on the lookout for improved methods, eager to test new ideas.

 To take responsibility willingly is the mark of a leader.

 Chapter 17: Tests of Leadership

 To everyone entrusted with spiritual authority, searching tests are bound to come.

 The bracing lesson is that God delights to lead people, and then, in response to their trust, to show them power that matches every impossible situation.

 Failure: How a leader handles failure will set much of the agenda for the future. Most Bible characters met with failure and survived. Even when the failure was immense, those who found leadership again refused to lie in the dust and bemoan their tragedy. In fact, their failure and repentance led to a greater conception of God’s grace. They came to know the God of the second chance, and sometimes the third and fourth.

 Successful leaders have learned that no failure need be final whether his own failure or someone else’s. No on is perfect, and we cannot be right all the time.

 Jealousy:The lesson for the leader is plain. The person who fills a role appointed by God need not worry about vindicating his or her work when rivals become jealous or treacherous. Such a leader is safe in the hands of a heavenly Protector.

 God will defend the leaders he has chosen. He will honour, protect and vindicate them. Leaders need not worry about defending their rights or their office.

 Chapter 18: The Art of Delegation

 The degree to which a leader is able to delegate work is a measure of his success. A one-person office can never grow larger than the load one person can carry.

 Failing to delegate, the leader is caught in a morass of secondary detail; it overburdens him and diverts his attention from primary tasks. People under him do not achieve their own potential. In some cases, insisting on doing a job oneself is a result of simple conceit.

 Once a leader delegates, he would show utmost confidence in the people he has entrusted.

 One of my greatest resources these ten years in Poland is the sense of his backing. My greatest pride is his belief in me. Surely one of my greatest motives is to be worthy of his support and to measure up to his expectations of me.

 It is a big mistake to assume more duties than we can discharge. There is no virtue in doing more than our fair share of the work. We do well to recognize our limitations.

 Writing about the leader of a large missionary society, a member of his staff commented: “He had a great gift of leadership in that he never interfered with those who worked under him. Everyone was left to do hi own work.” Another member wrote, “He knew what people could do, and saw that they did it, leaving them to make the best of their opportunities, and investigating only if things went wrong.”

 Chapter 19: Replacing Leaders

 The true test of a person’s leadership is the health of the organization when the leader is gone. A work inspired by God and built on spiritual principles will survive the shock of leadership change and may even prosper as a result.

 God is always at work, though we cannot see it, preparing people he has chosen for leadership. God’s greatest gifts are always men. His greatest endowment to the church was the gift of twelve men trained for leadership.

 Only after his removal are the character and achievements of a leader fully revealed.

 The most gifted leader has liabilities and limitations that become apparent when a successor comes along to advance the work.

 A shift in leadership also provides occasion for God to show His versatility in adjusting means to ends. His resources in any work He initiates are inexhaustible. If a man who possesses great gifts will not place them at the disposal of God, He is not defeated. He will take a man of lesser gifts that are fully available to Him and will supplement those gifts with His own mighty power. Paul implied this when he wrote to the Corinthians.

 God is surely eager to use the powers of naturally gifted people, but few of them are as willing as was Paul to place those gifts without reservation at God’s disposal. When such people learn to rely not on their own power and wisdom but to depend on God, there is no limit to their usefulness in God’s service.

 Chapter 20: Reproducing Leaders

 Bishop Stephen Neill:

If we set out to produce a race of leaders, what we shall succeed in doing is probably to produce a race of restless, ambitious and discontented intellectuals. To tell a man he is called to be a leader is the best way of ensuring his spiritual ruin, since in the Christian world ambition is more deadly than any other sin and if yielded to, makes a man unprofitable, rather than the intellectual, quality of those indigenous Christians who are called to bear responsibility in the younger churches.

Leadership training cannot be done on a mass scale. It requires patient, careful instruction and prayerful, personal guidance over a considerable time. “Disciples are not manufactured wholesale. They are produced one by one, because someone has taken the pains to discipline, to instruct and enlighten, to nurture and train one that is younger.

 Chapter 21: Perils of Leadership

 The perils of spiritual leadership are especially subtle, more so than for other callings. The leader is not immune from temptations of the flesh, but the greater dangers are in the realm of spirit, for the enemy Satan never fails to exploit the advantage in any area of weakness.


The test of precedence

The test of sincerity

The test of criticism

 Egotism: One of the repulsive manifestations of pride, egotism is the practice of thinking and speaking of oneself, of magnifying one’s attainments and relating everything to the self rather than to God and God’s people. The leader who has long enjoyed the admiration of many followers stands in peril of this danger.


This near relative of pride describes the person who is suspicious of rivals.


Personality cults have often developed around great spiritual leaders. Followers are awe-struck at a leader’s virtues, and show such fawning deference that the leader seems no longer merely human. Worse yet, sometimes the leader comes to enjoy his pedestal.



Sometimes sincere and well-meaning followers encourage the notion of indispensability, which feeds a leader’s ego and makes him, even less objective about performance in the office. And we do become less objective about our work as we get older.

 Elation and Depression:

 Prophet or Leader?

Dixon maximises the differences between leader and prophet; in reality, however, the roles overlap. But situations develop in which a leader must choose between a spiritual ministry and a leadership that would prevent the highest exercise of that ministry. Herein lies the peril.

 The thousands who have heard Dr. Torrey know the man and his message. He loves the Bible, believing it to be the infallible Word of God, preaching it with the fervour of red-hot conviction. He never compromises. He has chosen to be a prophet of God rather than a mere leader of men and that is the secret of his power with God and men.


 Chapter 22: The Leader Nehemiah

 His Character:

Nehemiah was a vigorous administrator, a calm crisis manager, a fearless initiator, a courageous decision-maker, and a preserving leader. He was resolute in the face of threats and vigilant against treachery – a leader who won and held the full confidence of his followers.

 Nehemiah faced up to opposition without forcing a violent confrontation. He took insults, innuendo, intimidation, and treachery. He would through it with his head high and his eyes wide open, with much prayer (4:9). When he could, he simply ignored the adversary. Always he took precautions (4:16). Never did he allow opposition to deflect his energy from the central task. Always he kept faith in God (4:20). The test of spiritual leadership is the achievement of its objective. In Nehemiah’s case, the record is clear:

 “So the wall was completed” (6:15)