Thank you for that discussion on spiritual leadership. It was the first one I have listened to but I will find the earlier ones and listen to them as well. Thanks again.
Reflections on the Spiritual Leadership Podcasts by Ransomed Heart Ministries
As a first impression, I would like to comment that perhaps one of the main problems with loneliness in leadership is not so much about the nature of leadership but rather the general lack of spiritual maturity in the church and in leadership in general.
My own experience has been that I was educated beyond my obedience in a Christian higher educational process that lacked a focus on spiritual maturity and discipleship. Loneliness would not be such a problem if the spiritual walk was a shared experience.
At one point I heard you say something to the effect that not everything can be shared because either it would set off alarms or they would simply not understand it. I think that is where the real problem is…..we have a corrupted view of leadership affected by a worldly view of morality.
In other words, give me a leader who is transparent and vulnerable, who has addictions and temptations and idols that he is still fighting against and that demonstrates his maturity by his commitment to the humility of confession, the interdependency of a lifestyle of repentance, the vulnerability of forgiveness and the commitment to reconciliation above all.
Give me a leader like that over one that keeps his battles to himself as if he has already achieved a level of moral or spiritual success or, even worse, he simply isn’t in the battle at all. Both positions are entirely flawed and miss the reality of the maturity of Christian living at the foot of the cross.
Spiritual maturity is not so much about moral or spiritual success in terms of sinning less than others in the church but rather about having different types of battles, different types of temptations, different levels of awareness of the corruption of our nature and the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive and cleanse us from all sin. The forgiveness may be instant but the cleansing is a process.
In other words, leadership is often defined in terms of morality, character and competence rather than in terms of passion, calling and relationship. Leadership and spiritual maturity are about process first of all. Morality is the result of relationship, it cannot create or even define the relationship. Holiness is more than morality. It is relational (which brings about a certain morality).
In fact, true leadership may look and feel very immoral….like the prophets of old who acted in very immoral terms on many occasions….laying naked in public for years at a time….marrying prostitutes….enciting treason and rebellion against the God appointed authority….the list goes on…..questionable activity at the very least….not culturally acceptable even by the community of believers….and yet, they were defined as those who followed God’s commands regardless of what people thought….morality is fine but it should not define absolutely the concept of spiritual leadership…..
I am far more interested in fallen leaders AFTER they fall….what do they do? How do they handle it? A Geroge McDonald experience? What happened to them? Where did they go?
They continue on as believers, we assume but they are taken from a leadership position, at least, temporarily and only restored when they have properly dealt with their public sin…ok, no problem….but where are the stories of restored leaders……
I hardly ever hear of them…..the restoration of our leaders through the power of the cross is what sets Christianity apart…..it is a disgrace to the world of course…..but it is the glory of God……and a restored leader who has learned the power of grace is the only kind of leader that I am personally interested in…..he who has been forgiven much, loves much…..he who has fallen in battle, and has risen again….can speak to the reality of sin in the church…..he speaks to the losers…..the wounded healer…..
I am interested in real spiritual leadership that is rooted in the reality of the cross…..the sweat, the blood, the mockery, the pain……my God is the God of losers, shamed publicly, sinners in the eyes of the world and the church, but redeemed nonetheless, raised up to a new appreciation of the grace of God for losers who have lost their ministry, their reputation, their families…..not that any of that is good…..but somehow, we have to maintain the simple good of a moral leadership that handles things properly and well and a spiritual leadership that when things are not handled properly and well is able to deal with it at the foot of the cross….the spiritual power that comes from that process can make a fallen leader more powerful than one who has never tasted the shame of public humiliation and sin…..
Yes, I am partial to a different type of leadership…..yes, it happened to me……yes, but for the grace of God we would all be shown to be losers, shamed and sinful…..or are we saying that leaders don’t have a secret life, that they don’t sin, that they don’t struggle and sweat…..
Paul, himself, admitted that he also had to fight these battles….the fundamental problem with leadership in the church today is that people in the church do not see people with the perspective of God or the agenda of God…..
I thank God that he allowed me enough rope to hang myself…..to break my youthful arrogance….to expose my idols of reputation…..to force me to make my relationship with Him more important than my ministry…..to teach me that my public life is an expression of my private life….
However we want to define leadership, especially spiritual leadership, the truth is that MOST leadership in the church is a front, a farse, a lie…..that denies the reality and power of sin and the influence of worldly beliefs and values and lifestyle in the church today…..
Yes, there are wonderful exceptions…..but they are far and few between…..give me a real leader sweaty and bloody from battle any day of the week….so long as he can lead me into battle in the power of the Spirit, rooted in the bloody reality of the cross…..focused on a new relationship of faith in God…..
A leader who confesses sin even when it makes him look bad and it is used against him, a leader who repents over and over again and asks for help to keep on repenting even though people will assume that his many confessions and starts and fits and failures in developing a lifestyle of repentance is a sign of spiritual immaturity rather than a sign of deep, spiritual maturity seldom seen in the church……
A leader who forgives not because things don’t matter but because he is deeply aware of his own sin and corruption and his own deep need for grace…..he forgives not because it doesn’t matter or that he is expected to do so because of his position, but forgives fiercely…..acknowledging the deep injustice of the sin……the profound hurt and misunderstanding and knowing that most often, the other will never ask for forgiveness much less confess their sin or express their intention to life a lifestyle of repentance with regards to the sin committed….
No, that would be wonderful….for him and for the sinner….but most of the time, especially in our day and age when there is so little teaching on confession and repentance much less forgiveness and reconciliation….the way of the cross…..most of the time….it simply doesn’t happen….at least until we are all standing before the throne of God on the final day….
And yet we forgive anyway…..because it does matter….after all, Christ died for that sin…..that sin was so grave, so destructive, so hurtful that Christ had to bear the horrors of hell for that one solitary sin…..the love of God does not dismiss his justice but rather fulfills it…..
That is why we forgive fiercely…..that is why we do battle to get there….to do it over and over again….to cry, to sweat…to talk, to scream…..and still go back to the cross…..and place all of our injustices, our hurts, our misunderstandings, our broken relationships …..at the foot of the cross…..and choose, clearly and carefully, to lay down our injustices at the foot of the cross and take up the grace and love of God…..
Not because the injustices don’t matter or somehow make our hurt of no value……but because those injustices were fulfilled by the suffering of Christ…..a true spiritual leader must choose to accept the suffering and death of Christ as sufficient payment for all injustices against him and his family…..
And he knows that if he cannot fight through to that truth, that reality….then the death of Christ cannot be sufficient payment for all of the injustices, misunderstandings, hurts that he has inflicted on others….
And if he is unaware of his sins against others…..then he must cry out to God with all of his heart to open his eyes and take away his blindness…..spiritual blindness and spiritual leadership can never co-exist…..
But a true, spiritual leader will have his pride destroyed by God, his idols exposed, his adulteries and prostitution clarified so that he can be rooted ever deeper in the grace of God…..and to think that we don’t have pride, or idols or idolatries (including our ministries, our families, our reputation, our morality) is to be naive……we are talking about the real world here….not a fairy tale of pretend, pretend that all is well…..
Spiritual leadership is rooted in the reality of sin as well as the reality of the cross of Christ. Both of these truths must be exposed…..both of these things must be visible to others…..Paul did it that way…..Peter did it that way…whether he liked it or not…..
Their battles were more fierce because they were rooted in reality….dealing with real beatings, real opposition, real enemies and having to deal with their battles within and without in the context of a fundamental commitment to the cross of Christ…..
I preach Christ and him crucified, Paul said….The weight of glory….is the glory of God in Christ demonstrating his justice and grace in the cross of Christ…..our commitment to confession, repentance on the one hand and forgiveness and reconciliation on the other hand, at all costs, is the only true way to reveal the glory of God in Christ in our lives…..empowered by the Holy Spirit…..
Anyway, food for thought. Thank you for letting me ramble on like this….keep up the good work.
The Desert Warrior