How convicted I have been these last two weeks! It’s taken me extra long to read the next section in Dr. Crawford Lorritts’ book Leadership as an Identity because I keep saying, “Oh my gosh, that’s me!” I have been overwhelmed with a sense that God has granted me some extraordinary opportunities in this life, but also that I have completely gotten in the way of His work at other times…
You may recall from my last blog post that Lorritts is writing about the four common character traits of Christian leaders who wield a lasting influence. The first character trait was Brokenness. The second he calls “Uncommon Communion” – a deep, intimate walk with God that goes beyond daily times of prayer and Bible study, a sense of being absorbed by the presence of God – a place where we as leaders are often driven because of the enormity of the task before us and our awareness that we desperately need God’s help. You could call it “Dependence”.
Here’s what Dr. Loritts has to say:
On God’s Resources:
The problem [in this instance] was that he was too aware of his gifts and experience. He assumed those were the key to his success. He thought he had a lot to offer God… If your primary calling card is the belief that your skills, education, and experience make you capable of fulfilling God’s assignments for you, you are in trouble.
In a certain sense you may, in fact, be the best qualified and the best leader. But when the source of your leadership is your personal competency, the contribution you make to the assignment God has given you will – in the long run – be mediocre at best. That is because God gives leaders assignments beyond their ability to accomplish.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1
We must be committed to developing the gifts and talents God has given to us. And, of course, competency is a good thing. But there is a problem when we view these things are the reason why God uses us and as the source of our effectiveness and success. Never underestimate the power of self-deception and the pull towards self-reliance. Do not trust yourself, but return to God as your source for everything.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” Zechariah 4:6
On God’s Character-Building Program:
God is using what He has given you to do to not only accomplish his assignments but to make you what He wants you to become. It is important that you do not separate God’s assignments from His character building program. The assignment He has given you is being used to accelerate your sanctification. In leadership you will find suffering, personal struggles that do not go away, failure, and success through hardship. Leadership implies a willingness to take others to a place where none of you has been before. Leadership is the ability to endure. There can be no leadership apart from adversity and hard times. Your credibility to lead is in direct relationship to your ability to endure.
On God’s Direction:
Leadership is fueled by a compelling sense of mission. What inspires us to take action is an irresistible picture of either what should be done or what could be done. We then focus our determination to make it happen. This is true of all leadership.
But there is more. Christian leadership is all about doing what God wants done. There is no leadership apart from a clear assignment from God. One of the most dangerous things for a Christian leader to do is to make assumptions about what God wants done. God wants to tell us what He wants to do. Planning is not wrong, self reliance is wrong.
Do not move if you are not sure God is with you. The only thing worse that waiting on the Lord is wishing that you had! Act when His instructions are clear, and then keep coming to Him when you don’t know what to do next.
Fight to maintain the discipline of coming into God’s presence to discern what He wants you to do and how He wants to do it. There’s too much at stake for us to do otherwise. God’s assignments have eternal implications.
Beware of the “activity addiction” associated with leadership. Be careful that accomplishments do not become the reason why we are doing things. Do not let the action and the activity become the call. Beware of not listening, of not waiting, of making assumptions. Beware of taking on too much. God never meant His assignments to destroy us but rather to call us to Himself.
Once again, it’s all about dependence.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7