The purpose of this devotional is to inspire you to think differently about spiritual leadership – as a way of life beyond simply fulfilling a role, and as the overflow of a humble, heartfelt relationship with God.
“From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.  When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.  I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.  You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.  I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
We lead others spiritually by the way we lead ourselves every moment of the day. And every day we are constantly leading our families, our friends, and our coworkers by our example – the way we live out our convictions. Leadership that’s spiritual and not superficial is a product of “how you live the whole time” (Acts 10:18) – not just when you are “in the moment” of a leadership role. So what “lifestyle” moves and matures our leadership from superficial to spiritually engaging and “real”?
A Lifestyle of Serving with Humility: Lead Out of Need
A lifestyle of serving with humility is one where we “lead out of need” – leading with constant understanding and awareness of our need for God and reliance on him.
For me, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 really captures this quality in Paul’s leadership. Unlike him, I want to look strong, unafraid, confident when I lead. But Paul led openly out of weakness, fear, and trembling in his flesh but with total reliance on the Holy Spirit – his message found power from the Spirit, not just “the right”, wise, persuasive words!
A Lifestyle of Serving with Tears: Lead from the Heart
A lifestyle of serving with tears is about leading constantly from the heart and not out of duty – connected, attached, and willing to feel hurt as well as rejoicing with those around us. There must be a willingness to cry tears of pain as as well as tears of joy with those in our lives.
For me, 2 Corinthians 11:27-28 is a great expression of this quality in Paul’s leadership – his willingness to embrace rather than harden to the “pressure of concern” for others. I lead superficially by just trying to accomplish instead of care because I’m resistant or unwilling to feel that pressure.
The Impact: Engaging Leadership
Leadership forged in humility and tears becomes spiritually engaging, not hesitating to say whatever is needed (Acts 20:20), no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular. It “goes big” and public as well as up close and personal – “from house to house”.
- 1 & 2 Corinthians – Look for more examples of the above qualities of Paul’s leadership to study and learn from.