Equipping for Leadership
The cry worldwide, in both the secular and the spiritual, is for genuine, honest Leaders to rise up and LEAD their people in the direction they are meant to be going. But before Leaders can lead others, they must first themselves be led into a strong conviction of where they must go, and why they are going there. For the Christian Leader, his/her "strong conviction" has to be birthed in his/her heart from the heart of God. Christian Leadership is all about leading God’s people to the place GOD wants them, and not man.
There are three aspects to becoming a Leader for God - and maintaining it - that are currently being a real challenge to me.
Let me share them with you briefly:
LEADERS MUST BE IMPACTED BY GOD!:
What does it mean to be impacted?
The dictionary gives us this description: "1. the act of one body, object, etc., striking another; collision. 2. the force with which one thing hits another or with which two objects collide. 3. the impression made by an idea, cultural movement, social group, etc. 4. to drive or press (an object) firmly into (another object, thing, etc.) or (of two objects) to be driven or pressed firmly together" (Collins).
If we translate the words "object" and "thing" into a more personal relationship between God and us, we get the picture of our need for "a collision" with God (in a good kind of way). The greater the "collision" the greater the impact.
Leaders must have more than ideas; they must have God’s ideas firmly impressed, even driven deep into their heart, mind, conviction and direction. Another word we could use is "encounter." Until we have an encounter with God that is strong enough to impact our life, then we will not be able to display any real mantle of spiritual authority among the people. It is one thing to be a Leader of men; it is entirely another to be God’s Leader of men. In the Bible, when God impacted Leaders’ lives, He always left a mark on them!
Listen to Job’s testimony:
"I was at ease, but He has broken me asunder ("into parts or pieces" - Collins): He has also taken me by my neck and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for His mark ("aim, as beingclosely watched" - Strong’s)" (Job 16:12 , KJV). (Some translations say the "he" in this verse is Satan; others say it is God. I am using it in the context that it is God.)
Job was a great example and Leader. His greatness was birthed out of his relationship with God. So good was Job’s testimony that God allowed Satan "loose" on him, yet Job came through his ordeal with twice as much as he had before his testing. He carried God’s mark!
In Genesis 32:24-32 we read of Jacob getting caught up in a wrestling match with an angel. It was such a grapple that it left Jacob with a permanent limp. He had been impacted by one of God’s angels to the point he carried His "mark" for the rest of his life. But the result of that impacting was that from that day on, Jacob not only carried a new name (Israel), but he also carried a new spiritual authority that everyone knew and respected (see Genesis 35:5 ).
The name "Jacob" means: "he will take by the heel," or "following after, supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler" (AMP.), while the name "Israel" means: "he will rule as God" (Strong’s) or "ruling with God" (Young’s). Something happened to, and in, Jacob in that encounter that night that he was never the same again!
In Exodus 2:23-25 we read of the children of Israel crying out to God for deliverance from the bondage they were in. They had become slaves in Egypt, even to the point of working the slime pits day after day. The harder things got for them, the more they cried out to God. God heard their cry!
But it seems that God was unable to respond to their cry (prayers) for help until He could find a trusted Leader who was willing to do what God wanted. Exodus 3 tells us of God finding that Leader - Moses. That man had been out in the wilderness for 40 years, far away from his people in Egypt. Moses was by then 80 years old!
The day came when Moses found himself at the extreme backside of the desert (Exodus 3:1 ).There he met God in a whole new way. An angel appeared to him out of a burning bush and told Moses of the need for someone to go back to Egypt to release the Israelites from their bondage. Moses was that man! (Exodus 3:10 ).
God so impacted Moses’ life at the burning bush that he would never be the same again. That experience with God enabled Moses to go to Egypt and bring the people of God out of their captivity (Exodus Chapters 4 to 14). He brought them out of Egypt by mighty signs, wonders and miracles . . . back to the mountain of God (Horeb/Sinai), the same place where God first impacted Moses as an individual. When Moses brought the people to the place where God had impacted his life, God was now able to impact the entire nation . . . not by a burning bush, but by setting the whole mountain on fire! (Exodus 19 ).
Gideon (Judges Chapters 6 to 8:28):
Our first glimpse of the man Gideon is that of a frustrated, confused, frightened yet angry, impoverished man who is in captivity with all the Israelites to the Midianites. He is trying to eke out sufficient bread to live on, when he is visited by an angel of God. He had heard the stories of the miracle-working God of Israel, but he obviously had not had any first-hand encounter with them, or God. Until now . . . ! The angel challenged him to rise to lead Israel out of her bondage. After Gideon proved God with his fleece (Judges 6:36-40 ), then heard the amazing testimony in the camp of the Midianites how he (Gideon) would triumph over them (Judges 7:9-22 ), Gideon rose up to become a great Leader. The impact the angel made on him was such that not only did Gideon’s life change dramatically, but so did the nation, and even history itself! Listen to this mighty statement:
"Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land enjoyed peace forty years" (Judges 8:28 , NIV).
What an incredible testimony to Gideon’s Leadership. One life, impacted by God, can make all the difference! That life can lead people from defeat to victory!
Samson (Judges Chapters 13 to 16):
Until his "fall from grace," Samson was a Leader whose life was mightily impacted by the Spirit of God. It made him invincible to the enemy. No matter what they did, Samson always upstaged them. It is interesting to note that Samson was defeated from within himself before he was ever overthrown by the enemy (the Philistines).
The Apostle Paul (Acts Chapters 9, 22 and 26; Galatians 6:17 ):
A zealous, religious bigot until his "Damascus Road" meeting with Jesus, Paul’s life was so impacted by what happened that he was totally transformed to become a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. That "collision" with Jesus became the basis of his Christian life and ministry, and, next to Jesus Christ Himself, Paul must rate as one of the best Leaders Christianity has ever produced!
Today, too, we must be impacted by God if we are going to be effective Leaders!
WE MUST BE TRAINED AND EQUIPPED:
Most of us understand what it means to be trained. In Genesis 14:14-16 we read of Abram having trained servants:
"And when Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them . . . He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people" (NIV).
Abram trained his own servants. They were "instructed" or "initiated" into the art of warfare. They not only had the theories, they were practiced. They had learned the balance of a knowledge that they knew worked - theory and practice working together. Because he trained them himself, he knew their capabilities.
If the theories we have do not hold us and work for us in the battle, they are no good! We need to be equipped with things that work! Abram had to know he could rely on those men in the time of testing. Their victory and future depended on them fulfilling that for which he had trained them! Can you be depended on in the same way, Christian??
So, what about you being equipped?
What does it mean to be "equipped"?
It comes from the Greek word "katartizo," meaning "to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair or adjust; prepare to make fully ready, - put in full order, perfectly equip. It is used of fully furnishing someone or something for some given purpose; bringing to full potential."
This is the mission and commission of the five-fold ministries we read about in Ephesians 4:11-16 . Their task is to make Christians ready for the purpose of God in their lives. What a challenge!
But what a difference!
It is imperative that we know the giftings and capabilities of those who are standing with us. We must be sure they have caught the vision, then own that vision. We cannot fulfil our mandate without others being given the opportunity to become a part of the same anointing, same mantle, etc., so the ministry is not built around one man, but will carry on even greater through those who have been equipped or "brought to full potential." To place a vulnerable person in the wrong place in the heat of battle is a sure cause of defeat. That’s why we all need to discover our own strengths and weaknesses and be equipped to win the battle rather than lose it!
When it comes to equipping, David had God-given abilities to bring the best out in people. He knew how to turn failures into Leaders! Let us learn from him as we look at how he trained and equipped those who came and submitted themselves to him and his Leadership (even though hewas in hiding in the wilderness).
"David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress, or in debt and discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him" (1 Samuel 22:1-2 , NIV).
David had been called, chosen and anointed by God to become the king of Israel. However, the present ruling king was Saul. Saul had been anointed to lead Israel (1 Samuel 10:1 ) and set out on a course of seeking to improve the strength of the army of Israel. Whenever Saul "saw any strong man, or any valiant ("strength, might, valour" - Wilson’s) man, he took him unto him" (1 Samuel 14:52 , KJV).
The NIV says: " . . . whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service."
The AMP. says: " . . . whenever Saul saw any mighty or [outstandingly] courageous man, he attached him to himself."
Saul went for the best!
But Saul himself could not live-up to the expectations of an anointed Leader and man of God. In 1 Samuel 15 he falls into disobedience. When challenged by the Prophet Samuel, he makes out he has obeyed God, thus revealing self-deception. When exposed by the "bleating of the sheep" (verse 14), Saul confessed his disobedience was because he feared the people!
By the time we get to 1 Samuel 17 we discover that the fear that was in the Leader’s heart had now permeated through the whole army of Israel! Those mighty and brave fighting men had been reduced to frightened and broken men! They had become influenced by a negative Leader. The best in Israel were turned into "shattered and disillusioned wrecks"!
On the other hand, David, because of Saul’s disobedience, had now been anointed to be king over Israel. But Saul was still physically on the throne. The more David’s Leadership strengthsbecame known, the more threatened and insecure Saul became . . . to the point that Saul actively set out to destroy David. David was forced to flee to the wilderness, living in caves and on the mountains (1 Samuel Chapters 18 to 31).
Yet, more and more, people began seeing "hope" of a better future under David’s Leadership.In spite of David being "on the run" and being hunted by the ruling king (Saul), men everywhere were making decisions about where, and to whom, their allegiance lay! Because the anointing of God was on David he was growing stronger and stronger, and because the anointing of God had left Saul he was becoming weaker and weaker in his Leadership. Saul’s Leadership was not producing good results!
Many of Saul’s men began defecting from Saul’s Leadership to David’s Leadership!(This scenario continues to this day in the lives of many Christians and churches). 1 Samuel 22:1-2 tells us 400 distressed, in debt and discontented men sought David out in the wilderness to be their Leader!! (That reveals how important they felt it was to be under the right Leader!)
Those 400 men were:
Those 400 men made a major decision. They could have stayed on in the "security" of a job in the army of Israel (under Saul’s Leadership), but become increasingly more unhappy and unfulfilled. Or . . . they could defect and join themselves to the persecuted David who was living in a cave!
They made the decision to change! They were sick of being failures under King Saul! So . . . they came to David and asked him to take them in. They submitted to him . . . and he accepted them as they were: distressed, in debt and discontented.
Submission meant they gave David permission to "speak into their lives," to make changes, to discipline, to bring correction . . . whatever was necessary to get them from where they were to where they were meant to be. They knew David could help them to succeed in life as men of God. They did not know how to change from failure to success (of themselves) otherwise they would have already done it! But David did! (And they knew that). So they submitted themselves toDavid’s Leadership, saying (in effect): "Please help us! . . . change us! . . . we want to be successful! . . . "
1 Chronicles 12 tells us about David’s army.
In 1 Chronicles 12:33 , 35-36 we are told three times they (David’s men) were "expert in war."
David worked on those discontents . . . turned their lives around and made them into experts!
David trained and equipped his men in such a way that they knew and understood what to do . . . what had to be done (1 Chronicles 12:32 ).
Those men could "keep rank" (1 Chronicles 12:33 ):
Those "failures" needed a Leader like David to address their problems and weaknesses . . . to get them out of debt . . . to get their systems cleansed of the bad experiences of the past . . . to change them into men who were committed to making David king over Israel. They needed David to help them become valiant Leaders! David needed them to help make him king! They became of "one heart" (1 Chronicles 12:38 ) to make David king.
And they did it! They did it in four years!
WHAT CAN WE ACCOMPLISH IN THE NEXT FOUR YEARS?
Regardless of how we see ourselves right now, if we apply ourselves, seek out a Leader (or Leaders) who can "speak into our lives" to bring about positive change, etc., then there is no reason why any of us cannot become good Christian Leaders . . . experts . . . in this next period of time. The need worldwide, right now, is for the raising up of LEADERS . . . men and women who are IMPACTED BY GOD, TRAINED and EQUIPPED BY GOD’S LEADERS to be of one heart to make Jesus Lord and King as together we gather in the end-time harvest.
WE MUST GUARD AGAINST FALLING AS A RESULT OF OUR BEINGSUCCESSFULLY TRAINED AND EQUIPPED!!
It is always a great tragedy when a good man or woman, successful in the Christian Ministry (andespecially a Leader) crashes out of things because pride enters in and clouds their judgment. Uzziah was such a tragedy. Let us look briefly at that man’s life:
King Uzziah or Azariah (2 Kings 14:21 ; 2 Chronicles 26 ): "Uzziah" means "my strength is Jehovah" or "Jah is strong"; "Azariah" means "helped of Jah" or "Jah is keeper." (Having the right meaning name does not stop one from falling!)
Uzziah became king of Judah at only 16 years of age. He came into great responsibility at an early age. He served God, doing what was right in His sight: "As long as he sought after God, God made him to prosper" (2 Chronicles 26:5 , KJV).
Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem, in the desert and dug out many wells, owned much cattle and loved husbandry. His building of towers and digging of many wells was a well-executed strategy in giving him the advantage over the enemies of his day. The towers gave him the advantage of being able to see further into the distance and so be earlier warned of an approaching enemy army. The towers also were built close to the wells in order to govern who used them. Water is an absolute must in every person’s life. None of us live too long without water, especially in those hot, dry climates of the Middle East. And Uzziah controlled the water supplies! He also had afighting army of 307,500 men serving under 2,600 Leaders (that’s an average of 118.27 men perLeader!). Uzziah had everything going for him, even God helping him because of his heart to seek after God.
He was a very creative Leader:
" . . . he made in Jerusalem engines ("inventions, thoughtful works"), invented by cunning("skilful") men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks ("a corner, a battlement in a wall" - Wilson’s), to shoot arrows and great stones withal . . . " (2 Chronicles 26:15 , KJV).
" . . . he produced engines of war manufactured in Jerusalem, invented by brilliant men to shoot arrows and huge stones from the towers and battlements. So he became very famous, for the Lord helped him wonderfully until he was very powerful" (TLB).
Uzziah’s creativity kept him ahead of all the other Leaders of the surrounding nations. This gave him a huge advantage in his being able to defend his kingdom, as well as to be able to dictate the strategies in warfare. He controlled the water and the weaponry, and used the towers to watch and guard his territory. A smart Leader!
There came a change. Pride entered into his heart. Uzziah started to trust in his own success, his own strength . . . the more it went on, the more invincible he felt. Pride, then arrogance, took over. Then he violated against God’s plan, became unteachable and unmanageable, even to the point of offering incense in the temple unto God. That was the ministry of the priests, not of Uzziah. Judgment fell and Uzziah became a leper to the day of his death. That meant he became ostracised and had to carry the stigma of being a leper from then on. Not a very nice situation to be in.
What a tragedy!
"How are the mighty fallen . . . !" (2 Samuel 1:25 ).
And he was such a good commander of men! Then he became a "has-been," a hindrance to the purposes of God. Uzziah’s negative influence became a blockage to the ongoing revelation from the heart of God. Instead of his expertise being used to train and equip others for Leadership responsibility, the very opposite happened. Uzziah became the problem and the training, equipping and releasing of others stopped. He would never again be restored. He remained a leper to the day of his death.
Isaiah 6:1 records: "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up . . . "
In a year where death was experienced, God broke through! (Out of death comes a new release, a new vision, a new understanding of the ways of God, a new arising of a Leader, or Leaders.) On Uzziah’s removal from this earth (and only then) did a fresh revelation come to the Prophet Isaiah of the call of God for service:
"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me" (Isaiah 6:8 ).
When Abram’s father (Terah) died, God spoke to Abram about his life’s missions call (Genesis 11:32 to Genesis 12:1-4 ). On that word from God, Abram and Sarai went out in faith into a new place, new experience, new lifestyle, new ministry. His father’s death released him to go.
Like as when King Saul died and David ascended to the throne, so when Uzziah died it opened a new day of opportunity for people to respond to God’s call for Leadership and service.
Just as success as a result of being EQUIPPED FOR LEADERSHIP causes people to rise and become experts, so does failure in the lives of Leaders cause people to decline and become "has-beens," . . . failures, even despising those who they had trusted to lead them. It is always a great tragedy when a Christian Leader goes the way Uzziah did in his latter years.
Let each of us be very sure that we know a present tense anointing of God in our lives . . . and not be trusting in something we had "back there."
This is a day for Leaders to be trained and equipped with the skills necessary for us to reap a tremendous harvest for Jesus . . . and retain it, because we have the confidence and competence to lead others, and make right decisions along the way.
God bless you.
Ask yourself . . .