Spiritual Leadership 1.0

•February 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We’re a couple weeks away from our second anniversary at New Day Church. Looking back at the road in which this church-planting adventure has taken us, I have thought more and more about what it takes to plant, grow and nurture a healthy church. Among the challenges God has been personally burdening me with is the area of spiritual care. In response, we begun a weekly prayer service and plan to visit one family per week to attend to their spiritual needs. But, is that all?

What I have realized is that God is calling us to a new level of leadership. As pastors, we quickly comprehend the importance of leading the church in areas of vision, organization, and evangelistic efforts. In addition, the pastoral task moves us to pray for the spiritual, emotional and economic welfare of our flocks. Moreover, our desire to speak for God, and not just of God, week to week drives us to draw closer to God in prayer. But it is not enough to become better leaders and be more competent in spiritual exercises. I think the greatest challenge for pastors today is to understand these are not separate pastoral tasks, but the same. God calls us to lead and our leadership pertains to the spiritual realm.

In discerning God’s challenge to me in this area, a biblical passage came to mind. In Exodus 17:8-16, we read of a war between the Israelites and the Amalekites. Now, the mere mention of this message conjures the image of Moses’ role as intercessor and Joshua’s as military commander.

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

For many, this passage is a vivid illustration of the power of intercessory prayer, especially in relation to the evangelistic task of the church. In fact, using the imagery of spiritual warfare, preachers emphasize that evangelism without prayer will have little results. In fact, I would go a step further and declare that evangelism without prayer is merely promotion. But when intercession precedes and showers our evangelistic efforts, then what we do is more than promote our church or ministry; for we will be planting the seed of the gospel in peoples’ lives.

Probably, this is nothing new, for it simply outlines a common sense approach to effective evangelistic outreach. But I think we can gain a deeper insight into this by focusing on the beginning of the passage. In Exodus 17:8 we read: “Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” If we ever needed a portrait of what a spiritual leader looks like, here it is. Moses commanded Joshua to “go out and fight.” This was not a passive “you go and do the work for me.” Moses understood that the victory God’s people needed in the natural sphere required him to win the battle in the heavenly realm. No matter how difficult the battle, Joshua was confident Moses was lifting them in prayer. Joshua’s spiritual mentor had given him his word. Knowing Moses was at war in the spiritual sphere made Joshua take up the task appointed to him full of faith and assurance.

Reflecting on this, I ask myself this question. When I tell people I will be praying do I really mean it or is it just my prepackaged response to every worry, problem and prayer request I will receive. I have come to understand the flock that God has placed under my care is depending on my prayers. As they face every temptation and make difficult decisions, they are trusting their pastor is praying for their spiritual, economic, and emotional well-being. This fact presents a great challenge: I better be doing more than simply putting on a show every Sunday. Am I merely directing their lives in areas of spirituality by informing them how to live as the Bible teaches? Or am I leading them on the path of spiritual perfection by my example and coaching? I believe one of the greatest accomplishments any pastor could have is seeing a person saved, baptized, and later active in the ministry of the local church despite all the temptations and problems, which came along the way. But walking someone through this spiritual process can only happen with an intentional approach to spiritual leadership.

So how can we develop an intentional strategy for leading people spiritually? In an age when everyone seems so busy and disconnected, the best tools are already in our hands. Think about it. How often do you text, tweet or post messages on a social network? Now what if you turned these networking tools into ministry tools. I know most of us already do it, but what if we were more intentional in caring for our flocks through the use of social networks. In the biblical example for spiritual leadership above, Moses told Joshua two things:

1) I will pray for you; and

2) I will be visible

How comforting and uplifting it would be if people knew we were doing just that and what better way to do it today than by the use of texting, email and social networks.

So as we gather here to learn from each other, I ask: how can social networks help us as we seek to lead and nurture our congregations? Please give some examples of what you’re doing and what has worked in this regard, for I know I have much to learn in this area of cyberministry.