Tell me, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of spiritual growth or discipleship?
- A solitary individual meditating or praying?
- People who are always ready to tell others about who God is and what He has done?
- The woman who reaches out to her neighbors in their time of need?
- People gathered together doing service on behalf of their church?
- Healings, miracles, and speaking in tongues?
- Administering the sacraments?
When we talk about Spiritual Leadership we talk about something that addresses both the leader’s personal spiritual development as well as his or her role in the spiritual development of others. Those “streams” we’ve been talking about are different images of what a healthy spiritual life looks like. They also give definition to Jesus’ command to “make disciples,” the emphasis being to lead others to “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
Jesus said that the spiritual life is both easy (Matt. 11:28) and hard (Luke 14:25). There is joy in the process, but there is also a cost. Even when we look into the life of Jesus we see the struggles he faced as he began his mission to “make disciples” and influence others to follow him. During his temptation in the desert with Satan, notice the reality of the spiritual battle he faced between heavenly forces and evil forces, the temptations for short-term results, and the importance of knowing and living the Word of God in leadership. In the end we see that Jesus still acted faithfully even in God’s provision of grace.
Oftentimes, within the Christian walk we live with the idea, “if we do enough spiritual activities, then God will bless us.” But, according to what the Scriptures tells us, who is responsible for spiritual growth (Phil. 2:12-13)? The Message puts it this way: “Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? “(Galatians 3:5)
There is this tension in spiritual leadership
But, this is not a game of tug and war where the two are competing forces. Rather, it is like the oars of a rowboat…or the wheels of a bullock cart.
In South Asia they have a proverb that says, “One wheel will not pull the bullock cart.” A bullock cart is a two-wheeled or four-wheeled vehicle pulled by bullocks, used especially for carrying goods. The cart is attached to a bullock team by a special chain attached to yokes, but a rope may also be used for one or two animals. The driver and any other passengers sit on the front of the cart, while the load is placed in the back. The wheels of the bullock cart work in tandem with each other. One cannot go without the other. If the oars in a rowboat are not in tandem then we just end up going in circles. If there is only one wheel on the bullock cart, then we get stuck in the mud.
To help us to become more like Jesus Christ in our life and leadership, it takes both our personal action (our faithfulness), but, more importantly, it takes God’s grace (God’s faithfulness) As leaders, we all need those moments when the Living Christ injects Himself in our life. Without the Living Jesus infusing our life, few of us will finish well as leaders.
You see, God will seldom do it without us – But we can never do it without God.
My Faithfulness and God’s Grace
In the middle of the tension between Our Faithfulness and God’s Faithfulness is where we live as Christ-centered leaders.
How have you felt this tension?