Several weeks ago, I mentioned several key areas that Foursquare Canada is emphasizing. Steve Falkiner spoke of Growing Healthy Churches. We all desire to grow and be healthy both practically and spiritually. I have taken these three words to heart and believe God is highlighting them to us as a congregation. I spoke of several areas that I believe God wants to strengthen in church, that of leadership and evangelism/missions. I am grateful that God has brought to us seasoned Foursquare Pastors who have a calling and desires in these areas. Our IN-LOVE dinner concert last night is a recent example of reaching out with the love of God.
This morning I want to begin a series on leadership. So much can be said and has been said about leadership over the centuries. There is a lot of material and instruction out there about leadership, it’s definitions and practices. This morning I want to share what I believe is at the heart of leadership and move forward from there in the weeks ahead. There are several key Scriptures that I want us to consider and meditate on this morning as we begin this series.
What is the Core of Leadership?
I have read numerous books on leadership over the years and had a variety of training experiences. Recently I signed up for a Pacific Life Bible School course on Leadership and Administration, so I have leadership on my brain of late. I came across several headings about leadership on the web. “33 Ways to Define Leadership” … “100 Answers to the Question: What is Leadership?” … There are many authors who preach and teach on leadership, both in secular and spiritual venues. Here are a few of the currents ideas and thoughts about leadership just by looking on the bookshelf or web…
Influence, Vision, Having followers, Training, Having integrity, Serving, Having skills, Planning, Courageous, Management, Being in charge, Making decisions, Coaching, Teamwork, Power, Organization… All of these aspects of leadership have biblical precedent. This list could go on and on, because leadership involves people which involves personalities which equates to various leadership styles and productivity in a variety of given situations.
So back to the question, what is at the core of leadership?
First, God is the ultimate representation of leadership. This is understood in the context of the Christian doctrine about God. The Doctrine of the Trinity declares that there is only one true God; that this God is three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, each of whom is distinct from, yet interrelated with, the others; and that all three persons are fully, equally and eternally divine. In the context of understanding leadership, we see throughout the Scriptures the Father, Son and Spirit engaging in leadership activities.
We are told that “The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6:4). We see in the Scriptures a oneness in the creation of the world. We see a unity in the birth of Jesus Christ between the Father and the Spirit. And yet we can easily see a separation of the Godhead in that Jesus, eternally the Son of God, was born in the flesh, eternally the Son of Man. The Father sent the Son who is empowered by the Spirit and yet they are One God; this is a wonderful mystery…
Secondly, true leadership is directly related to how we “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5). In order to fully appreciate all the intricacies of leadership we must love God fully and completely without reserve. This is easier said than done especially in light of the fallen nature of mankind. The truest form of leadership is still seen between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and yet God has delegated his authority to mankind. In other words, we are to follow his leadership example and be leaders. This again is easier said than done because people are so prone to sin. The examples of leadership tend to be broken, power hungry, greedy, lustful, deviant – and these are biblical examples for us to be aware of.
Leadership begins at home
The love we have for God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, is so important with regards to being the leaders we are destined to become. From the beginning leadership began in the Garden of Eden which was the home to mankind. All aspects of leadership whether in the areas of government, business, education, entertainment, health care began in this home. Adam and Eve were in direct relationship with God and were to model heaven’s leadership on earth.
The same is true today. And yet home life is very different from the days of Adan and Eve in the perfection of the Garden. We now have fractured families, divorce, abuse of all kinds, marriage redefined, and this was God’s original place for genuine leadership to be modelled.
So, what is the answer? The Scriptures tells us in Eph 5:33 – “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” There are times when I have not loved the way God intended me to love my wife; this only ended up in craziness. Together we are learning how to love and respect and establish God’s design for leadership in our home. Love and respect are two foundational principles of leadership that begin in the home and must be carried into our work places and communities. The world needs to see these aspects of leadership on display. The world needs to hear that this is only possible when a Saviour is invited into the home and family.
Everyone needs a Saviour. Jesus brings us all an answer to our dilemma of sin and brokenness. We all receive the forgiveness of sin. We all receive God’s love. This is especially true for parents, husbands and wives, through whom God wants to display his leadership. There are many testimonies of God saving and transforming lives and re-establishing his life into a broken world. My own story of God’s love restoring my life is ongoing. I am being made into the husband and father and leader that God intended. The same is true for wives.
The same opportunity for leadership greatness is in our children. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Eph 6:1-3). When children learn to obey with parents who love and respect one another, the legacy of leadership can be passed onto the next generation. One of the greatest feelings I have had as a parent is when my child puts obedience into action. Today we are seeing the results of their choices and now both Kim and Tiffany are married.
Leadership is formed in the heart
I am referring to the soul center of a person when I am speaking of the heart. Biblically the heart can be seen as the joining together of the spirit and soul of a person. in essence this is the inner life that forms our personality, our mind, emotions and will. The book of Proverbs 4:23 tells us – “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Leadership’s actions and expressions are initially seen in the home life, but leadership is ultimately an experience of the heart. The heart is one of the most vital organs of the body. We are told to guard it as if our life depended on it. In the Old Testament the word for guard can be translated is this way. The “guard” was to protect the king. They were to respond and have an obedient attitude towards the king. The guard was to watch and be on alert so that the king’s enemies were at a safe distance. The guard were the runners who surrounded the king as he travelled becoming his bodyguard.
This is something that we all need in our life. We need to guard the inner places of our thoughts and emotions so that our actions are righteous and true. Jesus tells us – “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him…” (Matt 12:35). The guarding of our hearts enhances the leadership potential within us all; just look at these Scriptures.
· Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matt 5:8.
· Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matt 11:28–30.
· But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19.
· Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor 4:16–17.
· Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Gal 4:6.
· I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints… Eph 1:18.
These few Scriptures remind us about the importance of our hearts being in a good place with God. We all need the encouragement of the Scriptures as we consider our leadership potential.
This is just the tip of an iceberg in relation to leadership knowledge and practice. God is the source of all and this includes the model of leadership as seen in the Trinity. The example to us is a mutual and selfless leading based on godly character and competencies. A heart in love with God has great potential for model leadership which begins in the home and carries into society around us. A heart that is dedicated and surrendered to God has phenomenal capacity to carry heavenly leadership into the world around us. The world is crying out for leaders, in the home (fathers and mothers), in government, in business, in education, in health care, in entertainment and in the church. The kind of leaders we need are one’s that represent who God is and his love for mankind.
There is so much more that can and will be shared in the weeks ahead on the topic of leadership. This is just to wet our appetites for more.
As I was praying for today’s message I felt God say to me that he has great love and forgiveness for us all. All too often we are aware of lack of love for God or our spouses, or the times we have failed as parents or as leaders at home or work. God’s love and mercy are for us today. He forgives. He heals. God wants to restore those broken places and transform us into the leaders he needs to fulfill his dreams on earth.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6–7.