God's School of Leadership
GOD'S SCHOOL OF LEADERSHIP
Part 3 of Waiting. 1 Samuel 16:1-13.
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. August 20, 2017.
In 1997, Christian researcher, George Barna wrote in an overstatement, "the American church is dying due to a lack of strong leadership." - Leaders on Leadership. Barna is confirming an important idea: When God prepares to move a church forward, he first raises up leaders who are trusted by God and his people. Godly leaders live out three vital qualities:
They are God-centered, driven by God's vision for the church.
They are humble, not focused on not their own power or prestige.
They are servants, sacrificing themselves for the mission.
"Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy." - 1 Corinthians 1:24
"Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”" - Matthew 20:25-28
These passages reveal that leadership isn't about position. Leadership in the church is about permission; permission to roll up our sleeves, to serve, and to sacrifice for the sake of Christ and his church.
The Cornerstone needs more servant-leaders to take us into the future God has for us. But, how will that happen? The life of David illustrates God's leadership development process ...
1. THE PROMISE WILL BE GIVEN BEFORE THE POSITION
Another way to say this is: "Anointing comes before appointing." God might be have his hand on you today, but he isn't going to let you lead today.
The Lord told Samuel to anoint David to rule (1 Samuel 16:12-13). But, it was another 15 years before David actually ascended to the throne of Judah (2 Samuel 2:7). And it was a total of 22 years before he ruled over all the tribes of Israel (2 Samuel 5:17).
Why the delay? David was a teenager - between 14 and 17. He had experience leading sheep, but he needed to develop the skills and the experience and (most importantly) the character to lead a nation.
God takes time to make us into leaders. Godly character isn't formed overnight. God's Spirit was powerfully on David, but that didn't mean he was ready to rule. And God's Spirit might be all over you, but you are still going to be a student in God's leadership academy, his training camp for servant leaders.
1 Timothy 3 encourages us to select mature leaders of proven character: "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil." - 1 Timothy 3:6
It's a terrible mistake to give leadership positions to people who aren't ready. I've seen this in churches. There's a position that needs filled. We get desperate. Any willing victim will do. Do they have a pulse? OK, give them power and position in the church. That is a recipe for disaster. Ungodly or immature leaders destroy churches because they aren't humble, or they can't work with people, or they don't have a deep enough relationship with the Lord.
The Bible teaches us not to give leadership to people whose gifts exceed their godliness: "Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands," - 1 Timothy 5:22. That's a warning to the church elders: Don't give your seal of approval to untested leaders.
Tired of waiting? Remember it's God's training program. No one graduates early.
2. LEADERS ARE MADE NOT BORN
Leaders are molded by years of work and adversity and waiting on God. Why?Because leadership is character, a set of qualities crafted in our hearts over years. Jack Hayford writes, ""The development of leadership character takes more than the practice of external disciplines, for it involves the heart, not just the habits." - in Leaders on Leadership.
In 1 Timothy 3, every qualification for an elder, with one exception, has to do with character. The exception? "Able to teach" - verse 2.
"Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach ..." - 1 Timothy 3:1-7
Character isn't handed to us. It's earned by experience. It's learned in the trenches. It's forged in the furnace of affliction. Desmond Tutu, the archbishop of southern Africa, writes about this in The Book of Joy. He comments on how Nelson Mandela's character was refined in prison:
"You know, when Nelson Mandela went to jail he was young and, you could almost say, bloodthirsty. He was head of the armed the wing of the African National Congress, his party. He spent twenty-seven years in jail, and many would say, Twenty-seven years, oh, what a waste. And I think people are surprised when I say no, the twenty-seven years were necessary. They were necessary to remove the dross. The suffering in prison helped him to become more magnanimous, willing to listen to the other side ... And so without the 27 years I don't think we would have seen the Nelson Mandela with the compassion, and magnanimity, the capacity to put himself in the shoes of the other" - The Book of Joy, pages 44-45
Even the Lord Jesus was shaped through a thirty year process that made him ready in his humanity for three years of public ministry leading to the cross:
"Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him" - Hebrews 5:8-9.
It took twenty-two years in God's gym to train David to lead God's people. Remember that. Don't rush the process; waiting isn't a waste of time.
3. WAITING IS TRAINING
I managed to cram a three year seminary degree into five years. But the extra time wasn't wasted. One of my profs told me at graduation, I'm glad you took longer. You weren't ready before. Even then, I wasn't ready. Today, I'm still a student in God's leadership program.
Waiting is training. It's not a waste of time. The Lord used 22 years of trials and temptations, experiences and opportunities, to mold David into a great/godly leader. Romans 5 teaches us that godly character is formed through trials and testing:
"3 We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character (the character of Christ), hope (trust in God)."
Pastor Rick Warren confirms this from his experience
(http://pastorrick.com/devotional/english/develop-the-character-of-christ - online on May 21, 2014):
"Character is never built in a classroom. Character is built in the circumstances of life... Character development always involves a choice. When we make the right choice, our character grows more like Christ. Whenever we choose to respond to a situation in God’s way instead of following our natural inclination, we develop character. For this reason, he allows all kinds of character-building circumstances: conflict, disappointment, difficulty, temptation, times of dryness, and delays."
David didn't waste his waiting time. Over the next 15 years, he had tremendous character building experiences - see 1 Samuel 16-30. For example - just a selection:
He lived with King Saul in the royal court, watching, learning.
He led men into battle and fought beside them and learned victory and defeat.
He lived on the run and experienced true danger and hardship.
He provided food and protection for a town.
He had two opportunities to kill King Saul, but he learned to wait on God's timing.
"This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’" - 1 Samuel 24:10
That's the most important leadership lesson we learn - waiting on God's timing; not forcing things, not taking short-cuts, not manipulating people to get what we want.
Before you graduate from God's leadership program, you must learn to stay in step with the Lord, to have faith in his promises, to please him and not man (your critics).
I'm confident that some of you already have God's anointing for leadership. But you're still in the waiting period. You're in God's school of leadership development.
Use this time to grow your character. Learn to trust God and to wait on his timing. Make godly choices in times of stress. Be busy serving where you are needed. The Lord will use all of this to mold you into a leader. The day is coming when the Lord will open the door for you. He did it for David. Saul was dead. David could have rushed in to fill the vacuum, but he was now a refined-in-the-fire leader, so he first asked the Lord:
"In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The Lord said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?” “To Hebron,” the Lord answered. 2 So David went up there ... 4 Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah." - 2 Samuel 2:1-2
The Cornerstone needs more leaders. We cannot move into all the Lord has planned for us without more people with vision who are willin. Our current leaders do a great job, but they can only do so much.
We need men and women who have graduated from God's school of leadership with great faith and deep humility.
We need leaders with godly character, filled with love for God and his church.
We need servant leaders who will sacrifice time and energy to lead our current ministries and to start new ones.
Are you one of these people? Has God anointed you? Have you been waiting and growing? And you know NOW is your time? You just KNOW it!
Will you talk to me about it? Don't wait to be identified. Very likely, it's not going to happen. It's a great thing to desire to lead (1 Timothy 3:1). Tell me about your desire. Very often, when the Lord puts that desire in you, he gives you a vision for what to do. Come and tell me about it.