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Spiritual Leadership: Who Needs It?

by Chip Brogden
“When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless the LORD!” (Judges 5:2)
All around us, institutions are failing and losing influence. Governments are in turmoil. Our schools are a mess. The Institutional Church is compromised and has lost its moral and spiritual authority. Our communities are in crisis. Marriage is being re-defined and the Biblical idea of “family” is becoming more and more of a rarity.

As people lose faith in these institutions and the people who lead them they are tempted to dismiss the idea of leadership altogether – particularly when the only leadership they have ever experienced has been an autocratic, dictatorial kind of leadership. When it comes to spiritual leadership, this causes many believers to say, “Who needs leaders? We all have the Holy Spirit. Let’s just be led of the Lord!”

This sounds perfectly acceptable in theory; but in actual practice, we see that God still raises up and uses spiritual leadership to bring His people where He wants them to be. He certainly could have just led everyone directly by His Spirit. But the fact of the matter is: only the spiritual can be led by the Spirit. Having the Spirit does not automatically mean we are governed by that Spirit and able to be led by that Spirit. The Corinthians are a good example of Spirit-filled people who were still carnal, who were gifted and knowledgeable enough to teach others, but needed someone to teach them again.

God does not command newborn babies to behave as spiritually mature adults. He recognizes our weaknesses and accommodates them. Jesus appointed twelve apostles: first to be with Him as disciples, and later to provide spiritual leadership in the Early Ekklesia. These apostles in turn were led by the Holy Spirit to appoint elders in each place, and these elders (“older ones”) provided spiritual leadership to each community of believers.

Spiritual leadership (as God intended) is Christ-centered, Spirit-led, and Scripturally-based. It serves the Body of Christ and leads people into a spiritually mature walk with God. When leadership gets its power from the organization or institution instead of the Holy Spirit, and when it lords over other people instead of serving them, then the Body of Christ suffers and people rightly question the role of leadership in the Body of Christ. The kind of leadership that brings people into bondage through fear is not the kind of leadership that Jesus intended and must be repudiated.

Keeping that in mind, the solution to the problem of bad leadership is not to remove the idea of leadership altogether. Let us remove (or refuse to follow) bad leadership, but let us not imagine that we have outgrown the need for spiritual leadership altogether. Both sacred and secular history teaches us that having no leadership is just as bad, and in some ways worse, than having bad leadership.

Leadership Lessons From Judges

I’m a big believer that life is too short just to learn from your own mistakes; you need to learn from the mistakes of others. So when I am confronted with a situation, my first question is, “Who else has faced a similar situation, and what can I learn from it?”

This crisis of leadership leads me to the Book of Judges, because our condition today is very similar to the situation Israel faced shortly after entering the Promised Land. Moses provided strong spiritual and moral leadership, bringing the people out of Egypt and establishing them as a nation. His successor, Joshua, likewise provided leadership to the nation as it entered the land of Canaan and began to establish their national borders.

From there, the Book of Judges records a rather predictable pattern. The leader would die, the people would turn away from God, and God would turn them over to their enemies. After suffering under their enemies for a period of time, the people would cry out to God for deliverance, and God would answer them by raising up someone to lead them. After their enemies were defeated, the people would live in peace until that leader died. Then a new generation would come, the people would turn away from God, and the vicious cycle would repeat itself.

I would like you to note several important principles that have application to you and me.

1. God did nothing until the people cried out to Him in prayer. When the people turned away from God, God turned them over to their enemies, essentially allowing them to reap the fruit of their own ways. The shortest period of rebellion was seven years, but most of the rebellions lasted around twenty years. At some point, the people had enough and cried out to the Lord, kind of like the prodigal son coming to his senses and returning to his father. But the important thing is to see that God took no action on His own. He did not lift a finger to help them until they cried out to Him in prayer. This underscores the importance of prayer for you and me. Prayer can shorten judgment, and prayerlessness can lengthen judgment. If we just sit back and wait, believing that eventually God is going to do something, or if we sit back and wait for someone else to do something, nothing will happen. We will continue to suffer needlessly until we get serious about calling out to God in prayer for our family, our community, our nation, and for the Body of Christ.

2. God always answered the people by raising up leaders to lead them. God did not lead the people directly, and God did not personally intervene in the situation they had created. Instead, God raised up a deliverer – Gideon, Sampson, and others – to provide them with leadership. It is also worth mentioning that these leaders were far from perfect, but God still raised them up and used them to lead the people to victory. It is unrealistic to demand that spiritual leaders be perfect. We see the imperfections of Peter, Paul, John, Moses, and David and observe that God nevertheless used them and blessed them to be a blessing to others in spite of their shortcomings. But there is not a single instance in Scripture were God directed large groups of people without raising up leaders to lead them. Spiritual leadership, properly understood and accepted, is an answer to prayer and a blessing to the Body of Christ. This is why Deborah sang, “When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the LORD!” (Judges 5:2). She said this after persuading a reluctant man named Barak to get up and lead. It is almost as if she is saying, “Hallelujah! We finally have a leader!” Consider the alternative: without the spiritual leadership of Moses, the people would have returned to Egypt and a life of slavery. Without the spiritual leadership of Paul and others to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, Peter and the Early Ekklesia would have limited their outreach to Jews only. The fate of the people tends to rest on the quality of the spiritual leadership, for better or worse.

3. Spiritual leaders must teach and equip both the current and the next generation.
The whole generation of people who entered the Promised Land with Joshua served God only as long as Joshua lived. Scripture tells us that after Joshua and that whole generation died, “Another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Perhaps in the busy-ness of conquering new territory the elders failed to pass on the spiritual and moral lessons to the next generation. Whatever the reason, the torch failed to pass, and the next generation drifted away from God. I should not have to point out that the same thing is happening today, as each successive generation becomes less principled, more detached from Scriptural values, and more permissive. Similarly, the Book of Judges records times of peace usually lasting 40 years, and occasionally, 80 years. These round numbers roughly suggest a generational component: so long as spiritual leadership was in place to train the next generation, peace continued during that generation. Once spiritual leadership failed to teach and equip the next generation, “another generation” would come along who had no spiritual or moral foundation, and the nation would collapse again.

Implications For Today

Spiritual leaders are desperately needed today for the same reasons. One of Paul’s final instructions to Timothy was to ensure the continuity of a Christ-centered faith by making sure it would be handed down to the next generation: “Teach these things to faithful people who can teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Teaching students is fine and good, but we also need to be teaching teachers so they can teach others. I believe this is an important aspect of discipleship that is often overlooked. Our mission is not only to teach and equip people for today, but to teach and equip people for tomorrow, to ensure that a Christ-centered faith is preserved and handed down to successive generations, until the Lord returns.

The Book of Judges ends with an ominous statement. After recording a particularly grotesque moral failure, it simply says: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). I am not suggesting that we need a “king” to lead us, other than the King of Kings; but I am suggesting that this King raises up men and women to provide spiritual leadership. In the absence of spiritual leadership, people will drift and will do whatever seems right in their own eyes. The problem with that, of course, is everyone has their own subjective definition of what is “right” for them. Without objective spiritual, Biblical and moral standards, and without leadership to inspire, motivate, and remind people of those standards, people will make up their own rules – often with disastrous consequences.

That is why I am praying for God to raise up 1,000,000 spiritual leaders who are Christ-centered, Spirit-led, and Scripturally-based. These leaders need not have any official title or connection with an organization, but will simply have a heart for the Body of Christ and will be moved by the Spirit of God to serve people right where they are, starting with the most obvious place: in their own home and in their own community.

Who needs that kind of spiritual leadership? We all do! If you agree, please join together with me in agreement for God to raise up a new generation of servant leaders all over the world. And when the leaders lead, and the people willingly offer themselves, we can all bless the Lord together. Amen.

34 Comments

  1. kenneth dawson

    ok I will ask papa to give them to us—we sure do need them

    Reply
  2. Janet huff

    Amen Chip ! I will join in that prayer for the glory of God . The Lord has placed a yearning for. Holy spirit leading in my life and the body of Christ . The Lord bless you

    Reply
  3. Sten

    Chip this is so true and it is such a neglected part and problem within the Body of Christ these days. The problem of no true spiritual leadership has brought about a weak and compromising leadership in the Body which is leading to a disrespect of the Church, leading to a disrespect of leadership, leading to a disrespect of the Word, leading to everyone wanting to do there own thing and it is so easy to fall into the same trap oneself and harm oneself before one wakes up.
    Thankyou for the word. It is a word for now. Lets get praying and believing and trusting the ALMIGHTY GOD OUR FATHER.

    Reply
  4. Sandi

    I’ll join you in that prayer, Chip.

    Reply
  5. Rich

    I know of small pockets of desert people that are meeting on the narrow path. They are discovering what baggage has been brought out of Egypt with them and learning to leave it on the side of the road. The prayers of the disciples within the Ekklesia will help to bring out the gifts the Spirit of God has poured out on His believers. I agree with you in prayer, I don’t have a number in mind but knowing that it is God’s will that the gates of hell shall not hinder the Ekklesia I pray the eyes of those ready but not knowing they are to be used of God be opened.

    Rich

    Reply
  6. Robert Taylor

    Hello brother Chip…….I am a long time missionary in the central part of the country of Mexico. You have hit on the one thing that the church needs more than anything else. This is a land down here where every kind of perverted gospel that you can imagine is circulating among the churches. As the Apostle Paul pointed out in the first chapter of Galatians, it is not a false Gospel that the Galatians was confronting, rather it was a perversion of the true Gospel,( Galatians 1:7.) For sure myself and all my missionary helpers will join you in praying for out Lord to send us some good biblicaly grounded leaders. Pray for us, and all Christian workers here in this dark and dreadful place.

    Reply
  7. Nkululeko

    I relate to this. My brother these sayings are true and God-inspired! I am one with you in this prayer!

    Reply
  8. Sally Packer

    Yes Chip that is a prayer I am very happy to join you in praying. Such leaders are badly needed throughout the world today! We need to be set on fire once more!

    Reply
  9. Thomas Gowin

    Yes Chip, you now in this time are leading people! I do agree with you, and knowing that our government is going down the wrong path, as well as many churches. We see turmoil in the mid east as well as in other parts of the world; and mostly because of weak leadership, and/or no spiritual direction to be leading the people. There can not be separation of church and state, because it is our God who puts those in offices and/or positions; however, some of them fall away not even knowing they have gone off coarse. It reads that any government should not restrict us from worship and believing in our heavenly Father. We must follow the truth, and not some man-made religion.

    Reply
  10. Martina

    I agree that we need them and i will join you in this prayer for the Glory of God.

    Reply
  11. therese

    I agree with you brother CHIP , it shall be done that way in the name of Jesus our lord and savior . Amen

    Reply
  12. Cheryl

    I will join you in prayer Chip

    Reply
  13. Sonja Moodie

    Hi Chip – Yes …. I will stand with you in prayer.

    Reply
  14. Linda

    Yes, I’ll join in prayer.

    Reply
  15. Clare Watts

    Oh, yes, Chip! I totally agree with you, in your teaching, and in prayer for this to happen. May the LORD hear our cry for this to happen. I recall a similar cry to God by the early “modern” church in China! A book I read, “Back to Jerusalem” about the movement that cried to God for an army of leaders to be prepared to lay down their lives to take the gospel to the sinful world, covering the land all the way BACK to Jerusalem…… I pray that God will raise up this army of leaders, everywhere, who will lead the church into the NEW Jerusalem, bringing it into the return of our LORD Jesus in glory! And as you say, even if it is to just start in our homes, our families and friends. May we decrease and Jesus increase! Amen.

    Reply
  16. Paul Ricks

    we need that move of God by his spirit through leadership now. Those that are hungry and disparate for change.

    Reply
  17. Nan Cameron

    I will join you in that prayer. I have had such a burden for some years to pray for salvation for my community but was then concerned about who would disciple them as the churches in the community were more interested in church hierarchy than following Jesus. Now I have been moved to a new community. Leaders are needed for the Ekklessia, for all those stumbling in darkness who need to be led into the light. I will definitely join you in praying for God to raise up those leaders.

    Reply
  18. Thabo

    I will stand with you in this prayer my brother; the Body of Christ, the nations, our communities, and our families are experiencing a dearth of leadership. It seems we as sons and daughters of the Most High have abdicated this responsibility, and others with a wicked agenda are filling the gap. The blind lead the blind, and the world is in crisis. May God arise and raise up leaders for our generation.

    Reply
  19. Lynne Clark

    Amen Chip, I will be definitely praying for this as we so desperately need real spiritual leaders, God bless you for sharing this, I love it

    Reply
  20. Nalinimatilda appaniyengar

    Hi Chip. Very timely n I am with you n please include me in your group of prayer. Thank God for leading you to teach us.

    Reply
  21. Jeannie McGonigal

    I will join you in prayer for spiritual leaders in my home, in my community, and in the Church at large. God is good. He delights in us! Praise His Holy Name!!,

    Reply
  22. Lila

    I raise my prayers with yours–God’s Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    Lord, open our eyes to see the Spirit-led leaders you have set in our midst–be they young or old, male or female, Jew or non-Jew, white-black-coloured.

    Reply
  23. Grace

    Amen, Chip.. I thank God for your leadership and I stand with you believing God to raise up servant spiritual leaders all over the world.

    Reply
  24. Fiona

    Agreeing with you Chip for God to raise up 1,000,000 (plus!) leaders . The world is in a mess and we The Body of Christ have’ dropped the ball here’, and need to depend on God for Him to raise up Godly leaders with a fresh prayer commitment to this. Great article. Thank you.

    Reply
  25. Sheri Macho

    Greetings,
    Chip, I’ll join you in that prayer, for things are about to turn and a “faith centered” stance will do MUCH in the coming hour. Many are ready – but they KNOW it Must be God who moves them, Not self, even Good Self. So they wait for … they know not what, but for Him to do it in and through them, the ones we have heard, want not religion, but Jesus Only. Blessings upon this next year and beyond, Are you ready 🙂

    Reply
  26. lizette

    Amen! in your prayer. Certainly, God equip his people through the leadership of others. God uses man as His vessel to show His desire and purpose to mankind. God is Spirit and no one has see him but His Son made Him known on the New testament. On the Old Testament the Israelis and His leaders made God known to other nations.

    Reply
  27. Coral

    Joining you all in prayer! Amen. Thank You Papa that Your Word says that the power of agreement is a wonderful thing.

    Reply
  28. Lynda Bowman

    I am excited to see where you are leading! I have for several years now been praying “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done!” I will continue to do so even more fervently. I believe you are one of the answers to that very prayer, the preparation the School of Christ has provided to so many. I will also commit to financially support this endeavor. God bless you! Lynda

    Reply
  29. Baki

    Am in agreement Chip. Will join you in prayer

    Reply
  30. roger drummond

    Chip. I like what Baki says: Am in agreement. Will join you in prayer.

    Reply
  31. Valerie

    Great article! It made me think of my current state of physical isolation from the Body and something I journaled recently…I asked the Lord this question on 7/9: “Do I need to be pastored, or do I need to be trained.” (This question flowed from a couple of opportunities I am considering). I believe He said: “You need to be equipped for the work of the ministry. This is what My Body lacks, yet it’s what I desire to bring”.

    …so we say Yes LORD!

    Reply
  32. Susan

    Can you answer this question for me Chip….
    Is it wrong to pray for someone that needs physical healing and say “by HIS stripes you are healed”?
    or was this scripture written for spiritual healing only?

    Reply
    • Chip Brogden

      “Right and wrong” is a question of interpretation, and that belongs to the realm of theologians and disputers of words. I would not say there is anything “wrong” with praying God’s Word. God sees the intention of your heart, which is more important than being correct.

      Reply
  33. Samuel BATOTA

    I’m in agreement with you, and l’m willing to join with you and others to pray
    Thank you brother

    Reply

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