Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The mark of spiritual leadership

A friend gave me this booklet by Sri Lankan pastor Ajith Fernando. In a few short pages Fernando says what few books on Christian leadership ever get around to saying -- the primary mark of a spiritual leader is a willingness to die for the people we serve. Jesus said it (Mark 8:34, John 15:12-13) and lived it. Paul said it (2 Corinthians 4:12) and lived it. Here are a few snippets.

Even a superficial look at the New Testament would show us that the cross of suffering is an essential part of Christian ministry. We can safely say that if we try to get round that, we will forfeit eternal fruitfulness.

So laying down our lives can mean many things. Most of us are not called literally to die for our friends. . . . We may be called to endure frustration, discomfort, tiredness and pain because of others.

Commenting on Paul's yearning expressed in Galatians 4:19. . .

We hear a lot of talk about incarnational ministry. But incarnation and pain are inseparable. When we cross the barrier from professionalism into yearning, we find that yearning brings hurting with it.

I tell our staff in Youth for Christ that Christian ministers are those who first get their strength by being with God, and then go into the world to get bashed around. Then they come back, get strength from God, and go back into the world to get bashed around again. That is our life.

This is a countercultural message even in the Christian ministry world, where frustration and getting "bashed around" is often taken as a sign that it's time to move on to another church, or another mission field. This is a convicting little book!

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