Historical Examples of Effectual Spiritual Leadership
A world lacking in effectual spiritual leadership is a world doomed to confusion, doubt and fear. Pain and sorrow abide always with us, but when the wisdom of reliable spiritual leaders rightly presents the principles of practical Christian character, the condition of social decay must experience a measure of healing. A nation that follows the fundamentals of Christianity reaps a benefit of honorable living, integrity in political offices, and honesty in dealings one with another.
On both the right hand and the left hand, we experience the consequences of spiritual malpractice. As Christian church sojourners, each of us can likely name a time of hurt caused by misguided religious leaders and/or religious assemblies. Rejection rules the body of the church – Not rejection due to a failure to honor Jesus as Lord, but rather rejection due to some conflict of secondary doctrine, confrontation with existing church leadership, and even rejection due to failure to engage in the preferences of the elite group within the group.
Yet in times past, effectual spiritual leadership came not from within the organized body but rather from those given strength to withstand the organized body. Think men such as:
- Prophets of old rebuking Kings and deceivers alike
- Jesus the Christ, God in the flesh standing against the false leaders of His chosen people
- Saint Augustine, a man who once left the Christian church to follow a form of Gnosticism but who later in life formulated the framework of modern Christian understanding
- Martin Luther, a man who basically went to war against the organized religion of his time and who is now considered the father of the 16th century Protestant Reformation
- Revolutionary general, Patrick Henry, not a pastor yet certainly a powerful spiritual leader who one said “Righteousness alone can exalt [America] as a nation…Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others (1)”
- AND… there is, of course a host of modern-day men famous for presenting unto all the evidence of effectual spiritual leadership.
Reputation Management Critical To Effectual Spiritual Leadership
Take note that these men who are noted for taking a bold stand against the common order of existing society, as well as in some cases the very body of organized religion, are counted as people of strong and reliable Christian character. Is it not because their reputation for unimpeachable dignity, honor and virtue remains solid even after years of testing by those who would doubt the truths they spoke and lived.
Dear friend, dear Christian leader, dear Christian father, mother or child:
- Guard your character
- Walk in Godly wisdom
- Live above board
- Work to earn your keep
- Present yourself without blemish in all manner of life and activities
- Resist temptation
- Hold fast to all that is good
- Honor authority even when you must reject authority
- Preserve your reputation for righteousness and clean living
- AND do nothing that shames the glory of Christ.
If you stand for Christ, there will always be some measure of confrontation with society, but at times there may even be confrontation within the body of organized religion. So when you stand, expect that your reputation will be challenged, that false words will be hurled in your direction, and that even truth may, at least for a season, be smothered beneath the lies of your foes.
Make decisions wisely. Never seek out a battle, but when lines must be drawn, do so with great care. Effectual spiritual leadership does not necessarily mean instant evidence of right standing in the things you say or the things you do. So protect your reputation in advance. Live a life that is transparent, open to examination, and proven by consistent evidence that Christ holds first place in your talk, your walk and your process of thinking and making decisions.
On-Line Management of Christian Reputations
If you run a website, don’t mask negative posts. Ignoring legitimate concerns merely evidences spiritual malpractice and poor Christian character. Hiding the negative merely reveals your fear of honest confrontation. This is the nature of a failed spiritual leader, and is the primary reason this nation has so many wandering Christians, church sojourners, travelers in search of a place where God is rightly honored.
Be upfront about any issues your organization or you in particular may be facing. This means not that you should open yourself to foolish argument, but rather that you should be ever on the ready to address honest complaints in open forum. If you locate negative online content regarding your church or your reputation as a Christian, don’t just do away with it; confront it with an honest and truthful report. Yet if such honesty fails to open doors to earnest discussion, leave it alone and let God be God in the matter.
Set realistic expectations over yourself and others. Let your enemies know that you are open to frank but honest discussion. If someone is bound and determined to slander your name, don’t fear giving him or her his or her say. If your light shines from the hilltop, time will eventually honor your reputation and enable effectual spiritual leadership to win the day.
Expect Battles When Striving To Achieve Effectual Spiritual Leadership
They murdered our Lord. Think not yourself immune to the rampage of those who would deny his truths, slander his servants, and seek to crucify your good Christian character. And remember: In the end, how you live before God is what really defines the value of your reputation
- Patrick Henry, Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence and Speeches, William Wirt Henry, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. II, p. 632, addendum to his resolutions against the Stamp Act, May 29, 1765