Let's be honest. Church leadership can be difficult. It's not always as enjoyable as an inspiring chat about Jesus over a cup of Starbucks brew.
In fact, Genesis 3 gives us insights to humanity that should cause us to anticipate there will be serious problems to solve. Knowing that spiritual leaders bring spiritual progress, and progress causes problems because there is a battle in play, helps us as leaders to have the right perspective. The goal isn't to avoid problems; it's to learn to solve the important ones with the help of God's power.
There are lots of problems, many of which we solve and some of which turn into battles. As a leader, you jump in with your best leadership gifts, people skills, intuition and intelligence, and God helps you. You win the battle.
Then there are the "other" scenarios that seem to defy any logic. They are beyond the normal problems that can come from an unreasonable church attender or a rookie pastor. Pastors have described these situations with phrases, such as "It's just a mystery. I don't get it."
I'm not advocating a demon behind every bush. Not even close. We (humans) bring on most of our own problems. But I don't think the church battles that defy understanding are a mystery.
The apostle Paul says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12, NIV). Paul makes it clear there is a battle, and it's not primarily in the boardroom. It has a much different origin.
Paul uses the phrase "the devil's schemes" in the preceding verse. There is an enemy, and he doesn't like what you are doing. Again, I'm not blaming everything on the devil, but he is intentionally causing serious problems, or at least leverages the problems we cause ourselves. There is a battle in play.
My first instinct was to write a list of practical things we could do to fight the battle and lead better. I laughed at myself because I'm writing the article and missed the point. Leadership skills are great, essential even, but at some point another dimension of leadership is needed.
It struck me that a leader's "Battle Prayer" is at the core of what is needed. Your prayer may be a little different than mine, but I'll offer mine to you as an aid for problem-solving at a spiritual level. The purpose is to tap into the power of God.
A Leader's Prayer For Battle
"Father, I need Your strength and Your mighty power in order to take my stand against the devil's schemes. This is Your church and You have asked me to lead it. I am willing, but I can't do this without your help. The battles are too big. It's not only about an occasional battle in the boardroom; it's about the eternal destiny of people's souls.
I put on the belt of truth. Help me to resist the lies of the enemy and communicate truth so that others see it as real. Bring to my mind what is true in moments of uncertainty. As I read Your Word, strengthen me with truth. Guide me in difficult and heated conversations so that Your plan is accomplished.
I put on the breastplate of righteousness. Thank You for giving me a righteous standing with You. With Your help I will live a life that actively expresses that righteousness. Grant me the wisdom to know what is right and to do what is right for the sake of the church and the good of others. May Your kingdom come! Your will be done in Your church!
I put on the shoes of readiness (peace). Where You lead I will follow. Lead me to those who have not yet accepted Your offer of salvation. Grant me wisdom and timing that the enemy may not prevail. Help me with boldness and sensitivity as I represent You to others. Remind me that this is the real battle, the battle for souls, not the distracting skirmishes in the natural realm.
I take up the shield of faith, which has the power to help me stand against temptation, rejections, doubt, discouragement and fear. On the cross, Jesus overcame the power of sin, and I pray that power would strengthen my leadership. May the enemy's fiery arrows fall away ineffective! I hold the shield up symbolically for my church. Protect us, Lord, for the sake of the advancement of the gospel.
I put on the helmet of salvation. My salvation is a reminder of all You have done and will do in me. It is a constant reminder of the mission I am committed to. It is a reminder of the purpose of Your church. You bought me with a price. You must consider me valuable. You have called me Your child. You must consider me lovable. May I ever remember as a leader to value and love people. When we disagree or even battle, help me lead from a foundation of love. Therein lies the true power of God.
I take up the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Through Your Word, bring my ways in line with Your ways and my thoughts in line with Your thoughts. Do not allow me to put my agenda before Your will. May Your Word guide me in grace and truth. As I read the stories of the ancient battles You have fought for Your people, may they remind me that You fight my battles for me today.
Gratitude is the true response of my heart even in the difficult days of challenging leadership. Help me today to lead well, according to Your will and in a way that pleases You. Grant me success in the battles before me that You may be glorified.
All this I ask in Jesus' name. Amen."
Dan Reiland is Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.
For the original article, visit danreiland.com.
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