A Pastors Personal Leadership Development

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When it comes to leadership in the church, I have found myself to be a servant leader. My style is to lead by example and to lead in a team. I like projects, and consider myself to be project driven. I am also a team player, and between both of these passions I like to lead on a team and run ahead of others serving them as they serve those we have been called to serve. I love to cast vision, teach leaders, serve leaders, empower leaders and enable them to grow and take over where ever God has led them to lead.

In my own personal style of leadership I expect others to give like I give, and do as I do. I love hard, serve hard and give all that others have the opportunity to achieve success. I work hard as a leader to do a good job and to help others to do the best that they can in leading others. As a leader I want to reproduce myself in the hearts and minds of others so that there can be opportunities for men to grow and to lead others.

As a part of my personal leadership development I am going to continue to submit myself to mentors and coaches that can help me navigate the waters of ministry and life. In my learning style I need my Pastor and board of leaders that have the right and privilege to speak into my life and to encourage me in the work of the ministry. They also rebuke and straiten me out in areas that are needed as well.

I have come to learn that as a leader part of my development was being able to have mentors who could deliver constructive criticism.[1] This is good for me, and it helps me to stay on the straight and narrow as it relates to leading others. My Motto is that “Every Pastor ought to have a Pastor”. So in leading others in personal leadership development, I practice the submission to leaders who train and teach me. I have a mentor group that I am a part of here in the United States. We meet together every year for one week out of a month. There are ten of us, and we have agreed to walk through life together and to spend ten years of formation with one another. Every year when we gather we read a book, discuss its meaning for our lives and share it’s most precious encounters that have helped us over the past year.

Personal prayer as a spiritual formation

One of the greatest mysteries in the gospels is the mystery of having to prepare before doing ministry. It is said that Jesus (The Son of God, the Word of God, Visible image of the invisible God) Spent numerous hours in Prayer with his Father before going out to heal and to minister to others. In my goals of spiritual formation in the New Year I plan to intensify my prayer life with the Father.

Throughout the gospels it is written 15 times that Jesus prayed. In these times He prayed in the early morning hours in various places of solitude, such as on the mountains or in the wilderness prior to doing ministry. It is the opinion of this writer that it is of extreme importance, that the servant of the lord, resemble the life of Christ if they want to be successful in the ministry of leading others.

If Jesus Christ practiced the spiritual discipline of prayer in solitude, to be prepared for the work of leadership in the ministry, then surely I need to double the time that he had, if I am to be successful in my efforts. If Jesus labored in this world to gain victory over spiritual battles, I too must use prayer to form and to shape my life to do the Fathers will.[2]

I believe that there are many dynamics to leadership and many tools that are needed to serve others well. However, there is none more important than the dynamic of spiritual formation and intercession for those I will be serving.

In order to be a good leader, I have to first be led. It is in the closet of prayer and preparation that I know I can get my heart in line before I get my script in line. In Marks gospel I see what prayer and preparation did for Jesus before ministering to others who were in need. There are six observations I have discovered in this text.

  1. Jesus before doing any ministry desired communion with his Father.
  2. Jesus delighted himself in maintaining conversation with His Father who had all power of heaven and earth in his hands.
  3. Jesus did nothing before consulting with His father prior to ministry responsibilities.
  4. HE sought out fellowship with the triune council of Heaven.
  5. Jesus through prayer would trust in the Spirit of God to illuminate His way while serving on earth.
  6. Jesus dove into the great depths of prayer as a model of spiritual living that we may have an example to follow.

In Marks gospel I see a picture of the Father in Heaven waking the Son to spend time with Him. It is a consistent picture of the fellowship HE has always’ had with HIM throughout eternity.

This type of spiritual formation is what I desire for the New Year in my leadership walk. As the triune God kept intimate fellowship with one another, so I desire the same thing as I journey on earth.

God in this passage is looking for the opportunity to meet with Jesus so he can give him instruction concerning the cases he will have for the day. The Father wants to use Jesus in the earthly realm just as He wants to use me. I can’t help but notice that there is something very precious about an early morning meeting with the Father.

I believe that Jesus knew the importance of prayer and wanted to give His undivided attention to the Father. Jesus knew that interrupted prayer, was not true devotion to God. He knew that prayer that was not in solitude could never be as rich of an encounter as that which was done in total seclusion.

It is the observation of this writer that prayer in a solitary place is sweeter than a hurried encounter surrounded in noise. In the solitary place my devotion is sacred and intentional. It is there that I can fully devote myself to the Masters voice and wait patiently for him to speak. As a form of my spiritual formation I want to practice this discipline with diligence.

I have discovered that praying while in solitude will enhance my thought processes. Praying while in solitude will reveal greater depths of intimacy with God. Why, because, my mind, body, and soul is not in competition with anyone or anything else. Praying in solitude will change me, before it changes anything else. This is why I must practice this discipline with great vigor in the New Year.

I have learned that praying while in solitude exposes my real motives, and secret desires. When I pray in solitude it brings me bare before the throne, and makes me rely upon the work of the Holy Spirit to get my prayers right. Having the right place of solitude, makes the prayer experience sweet and refreshing. As I grow as a student in the ministry of leadership I am convicted with knowing I must have a consistent place of solicitude, if I am to draw near unto God.

As I close this paper, I thank God today for giving me a model of preparation and spiritual formation, in the life of Jesus. It is in this model that I see the importance of the one who is a leader, to first be alone with God in order to meet the needs of those who are awaiting interaction with God. Every good student of the gospels takes serious the life of Christ as he is the model minister of the new covenant. In Jesus is the example of a leader. He took care of his own soul before attending to others.[3]

[1] The Leadership secrets of Billy Graham, Zondervan Grand Rapids MI. 2005 Learning and leveraging weaknesses pg. 237-240

[2] Sermon lecture delivered at Samford University, Beeson Divinity School Pastors conference, by Rev. Angulus D. Wilson, Pastor of New beginnings family Baptist Church. Birmingham Al, 2005. Published by Beeson Divinity School

[3] The life and times of Jesus Christ, By Fulton Sheen

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  • Bruce Whitsitt

    Thanks, Steve, for your thoughtful words.  Unfortunately, too many will not remember that day, nor the sacrifices made by our military in the ten years following.  Yourquasi-liturgical call to remember is truly what is needed; living in the real world, as opposed to living in denial and fantasy, requires acknowledging evil and being willing to oppose it; and that begins with remembering.