Category Archives: leadership

Running on empty for God?

‘When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.’ Psalm 142v3
Our understanding of this scripture is greatly aided by remembering that David spent  much of his early life as a fugitive. On the run from King Saul, David often experienced hardships in which his heart grew faint with fear at the overwhelming odds and the injustice of the charges made against him. That said, his plight was straightforward enough:
  • Loyal to a troubed King who wanted him dead.
  • Fighting the enemies of Isreal.
  • Living in the wildereness with a band of reneged soldiers that were loyal to him
  • Evading capure from the King and his men.

Is it any wonder that David attributes his safety and wellbeing to God who nurtures his spirit when faint and keeps him save from the snare (ambushes) of King Saul and other tribes that wanted him dead. That’s why David’s praise is genuinely heartfelt because he is going through hard times and taking each day as it comes being thoroughly reliant on God and his provision.

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No half measures…

‘(Ahab) sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.’      (2Kings 21v6)

‘Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord.’ (2 Kings 23v24)

What a contrast!  Ahab sacrifices his own child in the fire, practices divination, consults mediums and spiritists to find out the meaning of omens he has received. Josiah on the other hand, places God’s agenda front and foremost as he removes the mediums and spiritists and every idol that causes the people to stray from God.

In reading this, I’m reminded of Saul’s earlier failure in which he declares war on the mediums and spiritists only to later on disguise himself and visit a woman to ask her to consult a spirit on his behalf. The woman – fearing he will kill her – reprimands his duplicity, showing in that moment more integrity than the King himself. Now, compare this with…

…Josiah who removes all things that will prove a stumbling block to the people and for what reason? To fulfil the requirements of (God’s) law.

Question: What separates Josiah from King Saul and Ahab?

Answer:    A desire to fulfil and obey God’s law – no half measures and no looking back.


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King Saul – a case study in failure to deal with pride?

‘So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?” 1Samuel 28 v8-9

The thing I find most striking about this account is that the woman – in response to the King’s request to call up a spirit from the grave – shows more integrity than Saul in that moment.  “Surely you know what Saul has done.” Or put another way, ‘Saul, you of all people should know as you are the King who has  driven away  mediums and spiritists like myself!’

At this point, the woman thinks that King Saul is intent on tricking her so that she can be arrested and killed – hence her response:  “Why have you set a trap… to bring about my death?” Of course, what the woman doesn’t realise is how far the mighty man has fallen. How far Saul has transgressed and broken relationship with God to the point where he is prepared to turn to the dark side rather than face Him and be presented with the reality of his vindictive life and damaged decision-making.

In truth, all of us will at some point in our life find ourselves so desperate and far away from God that we will seek out our own way to move forward (without God). Saul’s issue was his pride. Setting it aside by admitting his weakness and mistakes was his problem!

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A tale of two kings….

‘So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.’
To understand this event we need to get to grips with the backstory as prior to David’s anointing, Samuel takes Saul aside for disobeying God in that he had not fulfilled his duty in respect to  Agag – the king of the Amelekites – and ignored the destruction of their livestock. Mortified at learning he had been rejected by God, Saul tries to make amends by:
  • blaming the failure on his men saying he was afraid of them  (Sam 15v31)
  • begging Samuel to return back with him so he won’t lose face. (Sam 15v26-30)
  • failing to do his duty so Samuel is forced into doing it instead for him (Sam 15v33)
Back to David, God’s replacement. Although a child, his pedigree is clear. David…
  • takes after God’s heart
  • is fearless in his actions that are motivated by his loyalty to God
  • strives to do the right thing,  defending the weak and poor

A loyalty and respect for God and those over him that will lead David into the service of King Saul, putting him in jeopardy as he attempts to do be obedient and do right by God.There’s no comparison between these two kings.

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Saul- the King who avoided change?

The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you (Saul), and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.’  1 Samuel 10v6                                    ‘When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying.’ 1 Samuel 10v10     ‘Finally, Samuel – son of Kish – was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the Lord  “Where is he?” And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”‘ 1 Samuel 10v21-22

In the last post we encountered Samson who although mightily equipped by God was undone by his immaturity and wilfulness. Sadly, the same is also true for Saul who right from the start shows he has no intention of leading others, preferring  to hide among the luggage rather than respond to the call of God.

What is really sad about this is that Saul is given an incredibly detailed prophesy of who he will meet and what they will be carrying etc to show that what is being said to him is from God and will come true. The fact that other prophesies  accompanied it should have put it beyond doubt but for Saul, the root of his issue is with his wavering heart which he favours. Moreover, he has no desire to become a ‘different person’ (Sam 10v6).

While Saul’s hiding among the luggage appears cowardly, what will transpire in the years that follow is that Saul is self-serving and disobedient. We see that in his wilfulness in choosing to hide. Likewise, his jealously and fear of David’s popularity later on. Not forgetting, his murderous desires and his overall failure to rise to the challenge of leading God’s people and protecting them, rather than serving himself.

Yes, the Spirit came upon Saul. True he was chosen by God and destined to be King and leader. However, Saul’s failure to address his anger, wilfulness and reckless behaviour sets him on a course to destruction. One in which the default of pride refuses to allow him to be captured by the enemy. He ends up killing himself, ending a sad era of a broken man who refused to reform.

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What can we learn from Gideon, Jephthah and Samson?

  • ‘Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.’ (Judges 6v34).
  • ‘Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.’ (Judges 11v29)
  • ‘The Spirit of the Lord began to stir (Samson) while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.’ (Judges 13v25)
  • ‘The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon (Samson) so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.’ (Judges 14v6)

What I find most interesting about these four scriptures is  what happens when the Holy Spirit come upon a person. Gideon is in a state of readiness.  We know this because when the Spirit falls on him, he rises to the challenge by blowing the trumpet to summon others to follow him. Likewise,  Jephthah is directed by God’s Spirit to advance against the Ammonites. However….

… Samson is a different kettle of fish. Stirred  by the Spirit from birth,  it appears that this judge is out of sorts with God. Confronted by a lion, God equips Samson with mighty strength and he tears it to pieces. However, speaking with his parents, Samson doesn’t reveal to anyone how God saved his life that day – which begs the question ‘why?’

Well – if the rest of Samson’s life is anything to go by – it seems that he had a real issue with pride. For me, he didn’t tell his father and mother about killing the lion because to do so was to admit his dependence on God for his strength. Presumably, he thought people would think less of him. And yet, it’s his pride and reluctance to remain attentive to God  that leads him to flirt with danger until he is eventually captured and his power and physical sight removed from him.

In this hopeless place, Samson finally acknowledges that it is God who provides his strength and prays for its return so that he can bring down the temple down on himself and his captors. God obliges and Samson succeeds but the story is not one of a hero but rather a tragedy. Unlike Gideon and Jephthah who learnt to be attentive to God’s Spirit and responsive to the call to go, Samson refused and paid a heavy price for it.  Something that we can all learn from.


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Holy Spirit in Human History (11)

‘So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him.’ (Numbers 27v18)

In this passage, we are introduced to man of faith Joshua who was one of twelve sent out to spy on Canaan ready for an attack. However, on their return, while ten of the spies gave negative reports about how Israel would be overwhelmed and destroyed by the giants inhabiting the land, Joshua and another were the only ones to remind the people that God was with them and he would achieve it. (Perhaps he held in his mind how God had delivered them from the Pharoah and Egypt?)

The spirit of leadership observed in Joshua is a ‘primary spiritual gift’ which stands out from the many other gifts the believer possesses. While these other basic gifts also result in blessing and formational growth,  our primary spiritual gift is unique in that when this gift is put into into action: :

  1. the person is energised (in a way they are not when operating in other gifts)
  2. other people are blessed by this ministry
  3. the person has a greater sense of calling and spiritual fulfillment.

This was certainly Joshua’s experience who after Moses went on to lead the people as they entered Canaan.

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Fruit of the Spirit – forbearance

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.’ (Galatians 5v16-23)

So far, the fruits we have encountered have been easily recognisable  – love, peace, joy (etc). However, today’s fruit –  ‘forebearance’  – is problematic in that we seldom use the term nowadays. Ask yourself: when did you last use ‘forebearance’ in a sentence?

Now while words like patienceself-controlrestraint and tolerance give us a rough idea of what forbearance is about, they do not give us it’s exact meaning. For Paul – who studied law under Jewish teacher Gamaliel –  ‘forbearance’ is a term associated with the wronged party refraining from exercising their legal right to have justice. In other words, showing leniency rather than forcing the guilty person to repay in full.

Paul’s instruction to the Galatians to show forbearance is a call to exercise generosity to others. Not setting the law aside but refusing to punish and admonish the person so they too might experience something of the grace and goodness of God and (in turn) do the same to others. This is forbearance: not negating the law but exercising the right to set it aside so others may know God’s grace and goodness – and reveal it to a watching world.

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Life to the full?

‘Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”‘ (John 10v7-10)

I love the imagery being used here by Jesus  –  ‘I am the gate for the sheep.  All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.’

In the 1st Century, Jesus’ listeners would have been all too aware of the dangers facing sheep. Corralled into their pen for the night, the sheep would be dependant on the shepherd to sit in the gateway and ensure no animal or person came in to steal them. Hence, Jesus words: ‘whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.’

But what of his statement that ‘All who have come before me are thieves and robbers?’  Well, by occupation, Jesus was a carpenter not a shepherd so he is describing the spiritual role he is about to fulfil as carer for those who will place their faith in him. People who believe that in death they will pass through a cross-shaped gate to be with him for eternity. Which begs the question: what is it that the people are being saved from?

Jesus says:All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them…(and) the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (but) I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

In short, thieves and robbers bring nothing to the table. They exist to steal and destroy and do this by distracting people away from Jesus who provides the opportunity for eternal life to all. At the time, Jesus was often speaking against religious leaders who opposed his message though today it could just as likely be an institutional practice or system that reduces humanity to anything less than their full spiritual potential  Today, praise God that the full potential of God lives within you as you trust Jesus for the route ahead.

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Spiritual Gift Definition – what makes a leader?

‘In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12v5-8.

Today we consider those with a primary spiritual gift of Leadership. Although the spiritual gift of leadership may operate at a range of levels, some people clearly recognise it as their responsibility to lead and develop others. These leaders cast vision and inspire/motivate others with their plans. In team situations, they bring wisdom, insight and direction to whatever project is being undertaken.

Find more information and resources at primary gift



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