Personal Life and Spiritual Condition in Christian Leadership

The term “Christian leader” presupposes one is a Christian and a leader. In order for one to be a Christian, one must change from being running one’s own life to letting God control oneself and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Acts 26:20). To be a Christian leader, one must walk in Christ (Colossians 2:6; Ephesians 4:15). In fact, teachers should be mature in the faith and practice discerning good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14). To be a good Christian leader, one must listen to and obey God (walk in the Lord), otherwise one can not be guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32; Colossians 2:6; Heb 5:9).

The book, The Way of Holiness, by Dr. Stephen Olford, addresses the need to obey God as it discusses eight things of which a Christian leader must be aware: sinfulness, forgiveness, holiness, Christ-centeredness, yieldedness, spirit-fullness, usefulness, and readiness. Dr. Olford deals with sinfulness by reminding the reader, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17) . All believers deal with the old man and the new man. We all have to deal with the self-centered self, as well as the Christ-centered life. This moral dualism polarizes our lives – we have temptations to do evil, as well as a desire to do what is good .

Not only does the moral dualism polarize our lives, it can paralyze us as well. We might desire to do the right thing, but we regularly fail to do so. As Paul says in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” The only way to not be paralyzed is to gain victory over sin (p 23). We have to come to the point where we do not want the things of the world, but God. We have to seek God and be satisfied in what ever situation we find ourselves (Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5). In fact, we need to be changed and desire God’s will (Romans 12:1-2).

While we must be changed and seek God’s will, we have sinned in the past and will do so in the future. There are some who would have us believe that sin is allowed, even desirous for a Christian, so God’s grace can be magnified. But the truth is, we need to seek forgiveness, not to magnify God’s grace, but to restore fellowship. Indeed, we are promised this restoration that can only be accomplished through God’s power (1 John 1:5-2:2).

God’s forgiveness restores our fellowship with God and allows us to let God work in us. It is only through God’s work in us that we can be holy. And Holy is exactly what we are called to be, for God says, “Be Holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16). On page 49, Olford defines holiness as follows: “Given spiritual life, holiness means the maintaining in health of that life before God and the setting apart of that life for His service alone.” God not only commands us to be holy, but He provides His own holiness for us through Christ, and preserves that holiness as well (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Peter 1:4; Hebrews 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). The holiness of God in us leads us to yield to God and to demonstrate evidence, or fruit, of that holiness (Romans 6:22).

As leaders, it is important to be Christ-centered. We must realize we can not live the Christian life without Christ. In fact, it is only in and through Christ that we can experience the complete Christian life. We are dependent on Christ. As Jesus said in John 15:5, “without me, you can do nothing.” We must die so that Christ can live in us (Romans 8:13). We must be crucified and allow Christ to live in us (Galatians 2:20). By letting Christ live in us, we partake in the divine nature and holiness. This allows us to live a life of sacrifice, submission, and service to Christ (John 4:34; Philippians 2:6-8; Matthew 20:28; Olford 59-70).
By being yielded to Christ, we recognize Him as Lord. Since He has purchased us, and pardoned us, He should possess us as well (Acts 20:28; Mark 2:10; Romans 14:9). Indeed, we are His in death and life. We are to submit to Him at home, church, work, and everywhere (Ephesians 5:21; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13).
As we submit to Christ, we are continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). It is this filling of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles looked for in people chosen as leaders (Acts 6:1-7). Indeed, the work of God demands the filling of the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit requires allegiance to God and an ongoing obedience to God (Acts 5:32). This being filled with the Holy Spirit will be visible in the lives of believers (Ephesians 5:19-22).
By being filled with the Holy Spirit through obedience to God, we are useful to God (2 Timothy 2:21). As James says in 2:17, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” In the same way Jesus had to do His Father’s work, so do we need to be about God’s work (John 9:4; 1 Corinthians 9:16; John 14:12). Jesus tells us in John 6:29 that the work of god is that people believe in Christ.

If we are to remain people who are useful to God, we must live in such a way that shows we expect Christ to return at any moment (Luke 21:34-36). This helps us avoid the perils inherent in the world. Prayer helps us to focus on God and stay free of the world. By remaining free of the cares of the world, we stay focused on God. Only by living a Christ-centered life can we continue to be as useful to God as possible.

Christian leadership requires we know Christ, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and focus on Him daily. This should be seen in our lives by staying separate from the world. Sinning affects our ability to hear God and to be of use for Him. To avoid that, we must maintain our dependence on Him so He will sustain our holiness, enabling us to hear Him while reading the Word and praying. By remaining in fellowship with God, we will be guided by Him, enabling us to be more effective Christian leaders.

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