CHAPTER 10: A LEADER DEPENDS ON GOD
The plan was all set. My pastor friend and I agreed on a scheme for me to transfer to his church to take over his pastoral role because he has a broader calling in God’s kingdom. Despite my apprehensions over such a seismic shift in my ministry, I was ready to submit to the will of God. We thought we had covered all the bases and so presented the plan to our respective churches. The shock and vehement opposition of my church stunned us. Eventually, we had to scuttle the idea because of stiff resistance from my church. Once again, God showed me that the best plans of men are just that, plans. In the end, God’s will always prevail.
It is, therefore, no surprise that perhaps the most peculiar thing about the Christian leader is that she does not rely on her abilities. Her logos is primarily that humans are unable to save themselves and even do things by themselves. Every human being is a sinner who depends alone on God for his salvation. With such a core message, there is no room for pride and self-reliance.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that a Christian leader merely waits for God to move and does nothing in the meantime. On the contrary, he exerts all effort in all that he does in obedience to the call of the Scriptures. However, he knows that the ultimate results and success of all his work are in the hands of the Almighty God. Because of this, such a leader cannot but depend on God for victory. A leader who radiates confidence in his own talents is turning his back on the gospel he claims to believe.
I have learned this lesson the hard way, not just once, but so many times. There were times when I felt I got things under control. Times when I thought my leadership savvy and intelligence would be adequate to overcome specific problems. Well, in most cases, I discovered to my chastisement how dangerous such thinking was. God has humbled me on countless occasions so that I may learn this lesson the hard way.
Jesus did not leave us in the dark about this topic. He said that we could not bear fruit if we do not abide in Him (see John 15:4). Unless we are united to Him by faith, all our efforts will be in vain. Believing this, a Christian leader always depends on God for success.
I suspect that this is the Achilles heel of numerous leaders today. They assume, perhaps unconsciously, that if they do their best, the rest will follow. I have observed many leaders in the secular world who exude cockiness. Yes, they think they are the masters of the universe. Sadly, such an attitude has also permeated Christendom. Not a few pastors preen as if they are God’s unreplaceable gift to the church. No wonder, people praise the leader more than God.
What we need today are leaders who have seen their utter dependence on God. Men and women who have been smitten by their sinfulness and brokenness. Leaders who daily see their reliance on the Lord Jesus alone not only for salvation but also for the performance of their daily duties.
Paul is an excellent example of what I mean. He testified that “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
We see in Paul the perfect balance that we also need. Paul “worked harder” than most other leaders. At the same time, he plainly declared that it was God’s grace that enabled him to do the things he did. It is so easy to fall into one extreme or the other in this regard. Some say they rely on God and does little to pursue their plans. On the other hand, there are those leaders who work harder and think little of God’s role. They may once in a while pay lip service to their reliance on God, but they basically think only of what they can do.
What happens when a leader depends entirely on God while doing her best in fulfilling her obligations? Quite surprisingly, she experiences the power that God alone can give. Paul can say that “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). In the context, Paul was referring to the grace of being content, whether in times of plenty or in times of want. We can apply the same principle in the Christian life in general and in leadership in particular. God can give us the grace to do all things He requires of us. Because the Spirit resides in every believer, we can have the power needed to overcome all the obstacles that come our way.
There are moments when the leader will feel as if he is drowning with problems and trials. Our enemy will continually find ways to discourage us. If we depend on our strength, there is no way we can win over discouragements and disappointments that periodically comes our way. It is only by relying on God more and more that we will be victorious.
How will you, as a leader, express your dependence on God? One concrete way is to be always praying. A person who genuinely believes that God is sovereign in ordering all things that come to pass will frequently be near the throne of grace. Commit all your plans and actions to the disposition of a loving God.
CH Spurgeon once said, “The same God that ordains to give a certain blessing has also ordained that we shall pray for it. We do not expect to change the will of God, but we believe our prayer to be a part of his will.”
If you aim to be an effective leader, always start your day with prayer as you commit your day to God’s enabling power. Throughout the day, pray without ceasing with prayers short and long. End the day with a prayer acknowledging the workings of God in the day about to close.
1. In what areas of your ministry do you often rely on your abilities?
2. Why do you need to depend on God for the success of your ministry?
3. How can you grow in your reliance on God?