Without Reliable Christian Character, Spiritual Leadership Always Fails
Perhaps you are the victim of “blow-hard” spiritual leadership. This is the kind of leadership that speaks one way and then behaves another. I call it breaking the trust. It’s what happens when leaders are more interested in impressing men than God. It is also seen when a man lies to his wife, or when a wife fails to keep her promise to the children, or when a supervisor retracts the words he spoke when you were hired. And these things, my brethren, do not belong in the Christian life.
Bearing up under the spiritual leadership of someone who lacks the Christian character to stand behind his or her words is like living in a marriage blotted by continuous adultery. Neither can be trusted to endure. Yet it seems that one of the greatest failures in the Christian world relates to leaders who speak with “forked tongues.”
It is not that such Christian leaders are “bad” in the sense of deliberate wrongdoing or purposeful deceit. If that were the case, it would be easy to cast them aside as wicked people. But they are not “bad” people. They do not consciously use other Christians for their personal gain. In fact, they are the same as you and I. In more cases than not the problem of poor spiritual leadership is associated with superficial religion and a lack of confidence in self or in the God they serve. When the dirt hits the fan they nearly always turn to the power of man as a source of the solution. This is because they have a desire to be exalted above the truth of who they are in the flesh. And it comes from leaders with “good” intentions.
Poor spiritual leadership is a sure recipe for how to build a broken church assembly.
Misspoken Words – The Core of Poor Spiritual Leadership
We all suffer from some measure of superficial religion. Our desire to do good runs strong, but our fear of public failure drives us to lay claim to the superficial “church” things that are easy to hold and easier to manifest. We strive to follow God. We long to be recognized for our “strong” spiritual standing. In fact, we often spend our days trying to redeem ourselves from the shame of some long forgiven sin such that we evidence mistrust in the promises of God.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” (Isaiah 1:18).
We are terrified of being caught in error or failure. We say words such as “I am not proud of that” rather than “I am ashamed of that.” The first expression leaves room for explanation; it gives us a bit of an out. The second phrase accepts full responsibility and leaves no place for pride to retain its deadly grip. In the second statement, the forgiveness of God becomes our only redemption.
Likewise, some spiritual leaders say “I will do that,” and then he or she does not do as was spoken. Promises are easier to speak than are words such as “I can’t do that” or “I don’t agree with that” or any other number of truths that would have kept them from being locked in the place of “forked tongues.” Yet keeping your word can be expensive, difficult and costly. On his website “Helping Leaders Leverage Influence,” Michael Hyatt says, as motivated by Psalm 15:1-4 and used in the management of his company, “We honor our commitments, even when it is difficult, expensive, or inconvenient (1).” Would that the spiritual leadership in our homes, churches, businesses and society would follow such simple rules.
Throughout the church body, it seems that men and women fail to grasp the importance of being honorable. Yet honor is a core component of strong Christian character. And keeping your word is the mark of an honorable man. I believe that when a man learns to keep his word, God will soon begin to uphold those words.
“The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground,” (1-Samuel 3:19).
Make Strong Christian Character the Core of Your Spiritual Leadership
Do you think before you speak? When seeking to avoid confrontation with his wife, a husband may utter the words, “I’ll take care of that tomorrow.” Yet tomorrow never comes. When seeking to show friendship, a man may say to his friend “I’ll do that Saturday.” But then Saturday brings unexpected problems and man never even takes time to phone the friend and ask to be released from his promise. Likewise, are the words of some pastors and spiritual teachers: Spoken in haste and without concern that they may not come to pass, the words fall to the ground and the crash thereof is the core of mistrust.
Make your words real, my friend. Rather than talking about keeping your word, keep it. Rather than speaking words into the wind, hold your tongue. Rather than boasting about spiritual achievements, let your lifestyle provide the evidence.
After all, which is better? That you should preach the gospel in shame or that you should provide strong spiritual leadership backed by reliable Christian character?
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not,” (Matthew 23:1-3).