"Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct."
There are certain people whose responsibility it is that we are straightened in life, attain spiritual maturity, fulfill destiny and ultimately attain the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ as documented in Ephesians 4:13. These people, we can rightly qualify them to be our spiritual leaders. It is not everybody that can rightly qualify to be a spiritual leader over your life. There are certain characteristics or qualities that can make a man or a woman to rightly qualify to be one in your life.
Number one, God must have revealed the person to you through the help of the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah 3:15a tells us: "And I will give you shepherds according to my heart." Your spiritual leader must be revealed to you, and he or she is God's gift to you. In Ephesians 4:11, the Bible says "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." These two Scriptures buttresses the fact that your spiritual leader must be revealed to you. That is the first characteristics that your spiritual leader must possess.
Number two, your spiritual leader speaks the word of God to you. In other words, the basis of your relationship should be word-based. Our opening Scripture showed us this: "who have spoken the word of God to you." Therefore, your spiritual leader's assignment is to feed and guide you by the word of God, and nothing else. To buttress this, in Jeremiah 23:4, God said: "I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking, says the Lord."
Number three, the Bible says to follow their faith. The implication of this is that the person's faith must be worthy enough of your followership. That means you are to watch closely and follow your spiritual leader's faith, if possible, "bumper to bumper"; like people say sometimes. And it did not stop there, you are to also "consider the outcome of their conduct." In other words, as you follow, both the word of God that they speak to you and their faith, you are also expected to watch how and where their conduct is taking both of you.
Listen to Podcast: Understanding The Right Attitude To Spiritual Leadership
Haven said all these, who is then a Spiritual Leader? A spiritual leader is that man or woman that God has ordained or commanded you to follow. In other words, God has put His word in his or her mouth for you (not because God wouldn't talk to you Himself, No!) and such a man or a woman becomes a watchman over your life. When you consider Isaiah 62:6, the Bible says "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent." That tells us that the responsibility of a spiritual leader or a watchmen, as the Bible referred to them here is that they continue to do the Lord's work on you until such a time that you have been made into what God wants you to be.
Also, in Ezekiel 3:17, God said this specifically about the work of these watchmen. It says: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from my mouth, and give them warning from me." So, that means your spiritual leader hears from the mouth of God concerning you, and then deliver such counsels to you. This makes spiritual leadership and followership a deep and sensitive spiritual relationship and one that we must fully understand so that we can grasp all that God would want us to through such relationships.
Haven said all these, what then is the right attitude that we must have towards spiritual leadership? This really is the core of this message to us. Because when we understand how we ought to behave, then we can maximize all there is in such relationships. Below are a number of tips on the kind of attitudes that we must have towards spiritual leadership or those that God have placed over us as spiritual leaders. Now the lists may be more than this, but for the purpose of this message, we will just be examining three of them.
First, Respect God's Authority In Their Lives
God's authority in the life of a spiritual leader is the symbol of his or her leadership. In other words, it is that authority which is sourced in God that makes him or her a spiritual leader in the first place, and it is therefore of utmost importance that we respect that authority. In the book of Numbers chapter 12, the Bible recorded how Miriam and Aaron rebelled against God's authority in the life of Moses. They spoke against Moses because he had taken a wife from Ethiopia, and the Bible says "God heard them."
"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it."
There is an inherent danger when we don't discern correctly God's authority over a spiritual leader. The truth is; there are times they may walk in error, but it is not in our capacity to judge them or cast aspersions at them because of their error in judgment at the time. It is God alone who has the prerogative to judge them. But the question is: What should we do in situations like this? When a spiritual leader is walking in error, what can we do as followers? There are a number of things we can do: Firstly, we can pray for them that God should open their eyes to see their errors. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that:
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence."
Secondly, we can simply un-follow them as God leads us.
But one thing we must never do is to disrespect God's authority and anointing in their lives. If we do so, we may end up incurring God's wrath upon our own lives, which is not good for us. Miriam and Aaron incurred God's anger for speaking against Moses. If we read from verse nine of that Numbers 12, we would see how God's anger came on them, especially Miriam who was the chief proponent of the disrespect against Moses' authority.
"So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. 11 So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned. 12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!"
So, the first disposition we must have to a spiritual leader or towards spiritual leadership is that we must respect God's authority in their lives. We should never become so familiar with them that we will lose touch of the whole essence God planted them in our lives. You know they say that familiarity breeds contempt. We must never be so familiar to the point where we begin to treat them with disdain or contempt. I believe we understand that!
Secondly, Honour Them
"And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way."
1 Samuel 24:6-7
Another disposition we must have towards spiritual leadership is that of honour. To honour simply means to regard or treat someone with respect and admiration. And there is no other place where we can see this great example played out other than in the Scripture that we have read above. Saul had been after David's life to kill him because he knew God had anointed him to take over the throne of Israel from him. In many of those occasions, David had escaped from Saul's javelin. But in this instance, David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he said:
"The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord."
What does the Bible say about honouring leaders? Apostle Paul instructed the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus in high esteem because he had risked his own life to go to the Philippians folks to deliver apostle Paul's message to them.
"Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me."
This should be our attitudes to those God have placed over us as spiritual leaders because most times, they risk everything for our sakes.
Thirdly, Let Their Assignment in Your Life Be Easy
"Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you], for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you [either]."
Hebrews 13:17 (AMPC)
Now, there is a reason why God has given you that man or that woman as your spiritual leader. The responsibility now is for you to make his or her work in your life effective and productive. If you won't put yourself under his watch or tutelage, it means the whole exercise may not profit you in the long run. Now, the only way this can be possible and realizable is through submission. If you aren't going to be submissive to a spiritual authority, then there is no point following in the first place.
Through submission, anointing flows from the leader to you, and there is a case study in the Bible to corroborate this as we round off. Psalms 133:2; the Bible says: "It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, running down on the hedge of his garment." The implication of this is that when you are submissive enough and humble enough, that is when you can partake of the blessings that the Lord has in stock for you through your spiritual leader. Don't forget that one of his responsibility to you is that of speaking God's words to you and over you. But if you aren't submissive, you may lose out on this vital part of the relationship. Hope you understand that clearly?
I believe you have been blessed!
[Centre for New Dimension Leadership]