November 8, 1998
My ways and God’s ways of leading
In Christian ministry, we are so often dealing with conflicts and tensions among Christian workers. Where do these stem from? And what can or should be done about it?
Obviously there are many sides to such difficult and complex issues. However, God has not left us in the dark about His ways – both for our Christian lives as well as for our serving Him.
The psalmist David wrote about Moses:
“He made his ways known to Moses;
his deeds to the people of Israel.” (Psalm 103:
When we look into the Scriptures, it isn’t too difficult to know His ways. Can any believer reaching the Bible miss God’s way for His people to live and serve Him together – the way of serving together in true spiritual unity – a unity that is visibly marked by genuine love from the heart for their brethren.
I believe this to be true, but then I find myself wrestling with some deep-seated, root problems within my heart. Such as “thinking love” in my heart towards my fellow-workers.
Why have I found within myself a barrier between myself and those I lead? The fact of the matter is that I have found myself acting in a formal, less than friendly way with some of my people. Being warm on the outside, but cool in my heart.
I have found myself entertaining all sorts of negative thoughts. Thinking about different issues. Sometimes even losing sleep. My mind sometimes is so full of the things that are bothering me in my relationship with my fellow-workers.
And when such heaviness of mind and soul keeps on, these suppressed thoughts and feelings begin to find their way to the surface – into my conversation with the person involved (coolness and formalness), and also with others (gossip though who wants to be accused of that – it’s better just called “discussing the issues” or “letting off steam”).
There’s no doubting it – my failure to deal biblically with such problem areas causes me to fall into sin, and not just in one area either. Often one sin gives birth to another sin which pollutes both my walk with Christ as well as the whole atmosphere where I am serving Christ.
In other words, my failure to deal with such problems causes me to fall out of my close, personal relationship with Jesus. A heaviness grows over my spirit. I find myself face to face with a spiritual blockage when I try to go into God’s presence, but also influences my ability to lead others.
But it doesn’t stop there either. My failure to walk in God’s ways also causes me to relate poorly with the individual(s) with whom I am having the struggle, to show a poor witness to those I lead and in general to lead me to make poor decisions because I am out of step with the Spirit who gives discernment and sound judgement.
So is all of this God’s way for me to lead? Hardly!
What is God’s way? What I hear God’s Spirit saying to me personally is this: His way is walking in the light, which also means that I stop walking in the darkness, in hidden or deceitful ways. It is throwing off wrong attitudes and putting on right and positive attitudes in my mind towards my fellow-workers. It is being willing to go to the brother or sister with whom there is some misunderstanding or conflict and to seek to know the root cause for the purpose of walking in a right and loving relationship.
But this isn’t easy. I am by nature fearful. Which is another way of saying that I am afraid of what might happen, what might be revealed, what I might discover from such an encounter. For example, I might discover that there are some serious character flaws that I have been blind to, that I need to repent from (Of course, if we aren’t “into” repentance, then we’re in the wrong job as repentance is so fundamental to giving a biblical response to the Gospel we preach to others!) Perhaps I’m afraid to face the truth. I’d prefer to live in the lie that everything about me and my leadership is going well enough for me to survive in Christian ministry.
I know also that am also sensitive. I often sense people’s feelings and feel badly about the distance between myself and them. The flip side of this problem is that I sense also their struggles and can quite easily pick up negative vibes. But above all, I know that getting easily hurt is just a commentary on my own proud heart. I want people to think I’m an okay person, that my leadership is also going well, that they enjoy working with me. Another sin!?? More repenting on my part. Of course! That’s what life and leadership is all about.
Especially repenting of pride that lies hidden beneath the fears and the sensitivities. Of humbling oneself before men (preferable to being humbled by God!). Acknowledging the root cause of my coolness and my defensiveness to people’s comments or corrections for my ministry.
God’s way is always the way of walking in the light. The way of openness with those we lead. The way of giving anyone we lead the permission to come directly to us with the assurance of our giving them an open hearing (without any signs of defensiveness). I find that if I am prepared for people to come to me in this way, that this prepares the way for me to go to them to speak in love about any matter that I may be concerned about. (And by “any matter”, I’m not just talking about “big sin issues” but helping them to grow up in Christ and pointing out ways they could become more effective in their ministry. In other ways, “training” or “nurturing” issues!!!)
God’s way is also the way of humility. The way of humility stands in stark contrast to the way of pride. Pride not only brings us down as God has promised He will abase the proud. It also lays a path of spiritual destruction among God’s people we lead.
What I see along this path of destruction in my own ministry is that God’s people follow my bad example and do not feel comfortable about walking in the light with one another. They build walls around themselves to keep themselves from being hurt by the corrections or the counsel of others. Which just keeps them prisoners to their own bondages and weaknesses.
I find myself asking myself the question: How can I stop these sinful ways in my life? How can I change so that I can really enjoy the relationships that I have with other believers and not just walk around sometimes with such heavy feelings within me? I cannot see that this is the norm for Christian ministry, including my leadership ministries.
The two aspects of the way of the Lord in our relationships with one another – the way of humility and the way of walking in the light – are so obviously linked indivisibly with one another. I cannot walk in the light with my brethren, with my fellow-OMers, unless I am willing to humble myself before them – in public as well as in private – to allow them to speak into my life words of correction. (Perhaps when I do that, I will find that I will even hear as many words of affirmation and encouragement as those painful messages.)
The way of humility means that I am prepared to allow them to bring out into the light my weaknesses (in face to face encounters, not in public or meeting forums!!).
What should motivate me to follow this route? Two main truths: Obedience to God because I love Him. And a strong desire that my ministry be truly honouring to His name. That people genuinely rejoice in God because of my leadership rather than moan because of it.
I accept these truths from God’s Word as the way to life – and the way that brings life through my leadership to others. I desire to embrace them even more firmly to my heart.
More and more repenting from hyper-sensitivity, from fears, from entertaining negative thoughts about my fellow-workers, from thinking of myself as better than others et al lie down the track for me.
I pray most earnestly that God in His grace and kindness won’t give up on me and allow me and the work I lead to go under because of my foolishness and hardness of heart.
Oh, that He will bring more life and renewal through my ministry and leadership! Oh, that He will honour His name through my life, especially through my weaknesses and failures. This is my prayer. Please help me by praying for me to this end.