Spiritual Leadership (Part 1)

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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKIcruH42S4

Link to Sermon Notes: http://www.bfec.org.sg/images/bulletin/20130519.pdf


My prayer is that the Lord would deposit in us, by His Spirit, the truths He longs for us to embrace so that we can make changes to our thinking, our attitude, our very habits and lifestyles.  And in so doing to make a difference to the world He has placed us in, the world He loves.  


It was Hudson Taylor, the founder of OMF today who said –

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s provision.”

What comes to your mind when you think of Spiritual Leadership?

  • Do you think of Moses leading the Israelites across the red sea?

  • Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem?

  • Joseph organizing the stocks of grain anticipating the famine?

  • The late John Stott or of Billy Graham? Or Watchman Nee, AW Tozer?

  • What about the late Dr. Benjamin Chew, father of Elder Ernest, who gave leadership to not just the brethren movement but many Christian organisations? Or Bishop Robert Solomon?

  • What about your Elders and Deacons or full timers?

  • What about the people who provide servant leadership week in, week out – our Sunday school teachers and cell leaders.  

But really, should spiritual leadership be confined only to the types just mentioned?  Yet when we hear “Spiritual leadership”, I suspect most of us will think it concerns …the “other” person who is more qualified.  More talented.  Someone with a “Title”.  

But I’m convinced the Lord wants us to recalibrate our thinking on spiritual leadership this year.  It’s not meant just for the other more spiritual person.  It’s not only for those Christians who are already leading their companies or businesses.  I believe God wants us to ask ourselves today, “What about me?

Whether you are 13 years old or 30, 18 or 80, 19 or 109, God wants to restore back the calling of spiritual leadership back where it belongs – to his people.  The very phrase “spiritual leadership” indicates we Christians and followers of Christ who have the Spirit of God in us - have an edge. To be spiritual leader, you could say, is almost our birthright.  But are we shy to claim it?


  1. God wants you to be a spiritual leader.

  2. God wants you to move people toward his agenda.

God is looking to rest the anointing mantel of spiritual leadership on each and every one of us.   Spiritual leaders are those with a spiritual orientation or posture.  They have the full armour of God on them.  They see through eyes of faith what God is doing, and they join him as willing partners. The spiritual leader is not defined by the size of the assignment but the size of his heart, of his faith in God.

2000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit was poured out to birth the church on Pentecost, tongues of fire rested on each of the disciples gathered in the upper room to pray. It showed physically what was happening spiritually – as you look beyond the signs, God was infusing followers of Christ with a distinctive seal, an unmistakable power, a heavenly appointment. It fulfilled what was long ago prophesied by the prophet Joel and promised by the Lord Jesus just 40 days earlier in Acts 1:8:   

“...but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses…”

So what was the first job description for someone who is filled and led by the Spirit of God?  To lead others to Christ.  To me, that was a very clear example of a spiritual leader.  

Can you now see the potential Jesus sees in each of us?  He did not assess which of those in that upper room had a title, was male or female, how old they were, what backgrounds.  Instead He saw their hunger and their willingness.

Luke, a qualified doctor, in writing the book of Acts, as prompted by the Holy Spirit, reflected the surprise of the Pharisees when he noted in Acts 4:13, after a man was miraculously healed by Peter and John and what happened caused an uproar.

13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Ordinary.  Unschooled. Very below-average men in the worlds eyes have suddenly become Extraordinary men with the Mind of Christ.  God’s ways are not our ways. Paul said it right when he said in 1 Cor 1:27 that God chooses “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

So if you feel unworthy to be a spiritual leader, you are in good company.  Peter and John will tell you, “Welcome to the club”.

Holding a leadership position in a Christian organization does not make one a spiritual leader. Spiritual leadership is not an occupation. It is a posture, a calling.  

Regardless of what you do for a living – be it at home, at school or at work, here or abroad – God wants you to see your potential as a spiritual leader. And there is no secular or spiritual division.  Everything a spiritual person does is a spiritual sacrifice to God.  Anyone who professes to follow Christ – be it students, undergrads, businessmen and women, doctors, nurses, teachers, principals, politicians, marketeers, administrators, engineers, singles, married, service personnel, architects, accountants, young adults,octogenarians,  parents, you who are brothers or sisters at home – all ought to see yourselves, first of all, as “spiritual” leaders.  

Just imagine - when each of us takes that calling seriously, do you think we will not extend God’s kingdom?  

J. O. Sanders defined leadership this way in his classic book on Spiritual Leadership, “Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others.”  So the proof of leadership is some impact or difference you’ve made to another.  

But I prefer the improvement by Henry and Richard Blakaby in their landmark book Spiritual Leadership in 2001-  They said: “Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda.”

In other words, it’s taking people from where they are to where God wants them to be.

The moment you and I spur, affect, guide, persuade, impress, shape, lead someone to believe in and act on something that we know God desires, you have exercised spiritual leadership.  In spiritual leadership it starts with an intention, and it moves to a destination.

I am not saying there’s no place for leadership appointments here. In fact we need spiritual leaders to hold appointments in all arenas of influence. But when you and I begin to believe and develop one another as spiritual leaders, you will transform not just your cell, your church, but your home, your workplace, your industry, your networks, your country, your world…for Him.   

God is looking for more men and women, young and young at heart, in BFEC to rise up to take up their positions of spiritual leadership in ministry, marketplace and missions.

God doesn’t want us just to survive but to thrive.  He doesn’t want us to be reactive but proactive.  He doesn’t want us to be defeated but victorious in every situation he allows or places us in.  And even if we fail, we fail trying.  And we can still pick ourselves up again and again and again.

What did God do to set us up for spiritual leadership?


Yes He saved us.  But we are rescued to rescue others.    

God tells us we are spiritual leaders in different ways in the Bible.  He tell us we are ALL, without exception:

  1. His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20)   - that’s a very privileged role representing and fronting Christ’s kingdom and conveying his message of reconciliation.  

  1. In 1 Peter 2:9  we are not just chosen people but also a “royal priesthood”.  There again you find that “combo meal” of a spiritual leader. And it goes on to give the work spiritual leaders do - “that you may declare …the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  Doesn’t sound very passive to me when you declare and proclaim.

  1. And finally, he tells us the powerful impact we have when we come together as spiritual leaders to form his church. Eph 3:10 “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”  So who does God call to counter the unspiritual leaders of darkness and of this age? You and I.


we are entering a very critical decade as Singapore turns 50. Cushioned by years of economic boom and material success, we are now faced with a challenge how we want to respond to issues of comfort and comfort zones. Singapore was prophetically claimed the Antioch of Asia.  A missions hub sending forth missionaries. And so we joined other churches to send out workers into the field for the last 5 decades.  We also identified missions at our doorstep through the various ministries we’ve been having – to Chinese nurses, Indian laborers, Domestic helpers.  

But now suddenly missions is “overcrowding” at our doorstep.  And all we could see are crowds, rising costs and competition.  

In a more sinister development, lobby groups are  here and abroad, funded by rich sympathizers, in wave after wave, pushing for laws to be changed to reflect so called changing attitudes to same sex lifestyles.  They are not likely to win anytime soon in S’pore.  The danger lies if we are not sowing truth to the next generation, many of whom may grow up to sympathize with the movement. How are we equipped to respond as a church?  This is an important topic you will hear more about in time to come.

Spiritual warfare will get more intense as churches across this land step up in outreach and missions.  We must pray for churches big or small to shine for Jesus and be ready at His return. It is a time for spiritual discernment.  Spiritual discernment comes from being connected to God, from being spiritually mature and grounded in the Word and discerning.


  1. The spiritual leader must BE… Spirit-filled and Scripture-fed.

We have a choice whether to be led by the flesh & our desires or by the Spirit of God in us. But are there obstacles and blockages or strongholds in your heart that keep you from living a truly spirit-filled and victorious life?  

When Moses told Joshua (in 1:6) to “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land…” he also instructed him to meditate on the Word of God.  Imagine a warrior whose weapons are made of daggers, arrows and spears being told that your real weapon is His word kept in your heart?  You who are corporate warriors – have you sufficiently armed yourselves for true success?  Our success as a spiritual leader is directly related to how much we take heed of God’s Word.  When we are led and fed by the Spirit, we will in turn lead others spiritually.

B. The spiritual leader must also be: Servant hearted and loves people.

In Matt. 20: 28, we read that our foremost spiritual leader, our Lord Jesus, “…did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many.”  How much more the rest of us.  When we love people, we serve them.  And you do not grow until you serve.   There is no short-cut.  

When God finds men and women willing to be molded into His servants, the possibilities are limitless.  

  1. The Spiritual leader must be: Submitted to God and to one another.

We know Ephesians 5:21 - “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  

In the context, it is a general principle and does not mean “mutual submission” in the egalitarian sense.  Rather I agree with the ESV study bible’s note on it, which states: “Submit to others according to the authority and order established by God.”  Then it makes sense how husbands and wives, children and parents, employer and employee, citizens to those in authority, church leaders and their flock ought to relate.

Will God hold the one submitted to account?  Indeed, Hebrews 13:17 tells us, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.”

Because, ultimately, all of us must take of heed James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”


The spiritual leader must BELIEVE…

  1. God’s Agent is me!  He wants to use you and me. (If you don’t believe, he can’t use you. But all you need is some faith,  and you pray for more as you step out of the boat.)

  1. God’s Agenda is better than mine. Do you believe God is sovereign and that his plan is better than yours. And when he works things for good, it’s not what you perceive as good but what He thinks is good for you?  Finally, you must believe that,

  1. God’s Ability to provide what I need is assured – power, insight, wisdom, strength, even mentors to help you in your journey.


5 years ago, when Council huddled together for several Saturdays over several months, we came away with our Vision, Mission and Core Faith Values.  We also asked God what were the 5 most critical things we needed to do to grow the church?  These things are what management experts like Elder Soon Boon call Strategic ThrustS.  Basically they are statements telling us what we must focus on to achieve the Mission and Vision. Guess what was on top of the list?

“To nurture exemplary Christ-centered leaders.”  

To do that, we said we would do two things:

1. We needed to have a process to identify and develop leaders ….at different age groups. (Did not spiritual giant Paul tell spiritually timid Timothy, Do let no one despise your youth but set the believers an example…?  )

2. To develop a relational culture among leaders and mentors/shepherds.

We knew in our hearts that for the church of Jesus Christ to not just grow strong but grow wide and go far, and to continue from generation to generation, we needed to grow spiritual leaders.  

But what do we do?  During Not A Fan, your cell leaders and assistant leaders committed to meet every sat morning with the Elders.  Average of about 50 - 60 people each came together. We watched the video, then shared with each other how we journeyed with the materials. We were also bonded by the need to figure out how to make sense of the material.  One good thing that came out is that the leaders came away with the sense that this coming together intentionally was a good thing though it required some sacrifice of Sat morning sleep. A cell leader is not alone after all, as he discovers that the issues faced were very similar as leaders.

But I believe, it was the 10am worship team that got this relational coaching or mentoring going in some way. After our 4-14 retreat, and we made a decision to revamp our SSS, one of the things that would make a youth ministry sustainable was to have enough trained worship leaders and musicians.  Sister Sharon was inspired with her team to coach the younger ones leading worship at the then SSS.  So they took the potential ones in, build relationships, set some expectations to commit to, and week by week mentored them and formed some kind of apprenticeship where they served together until they can fly solo as worship leaders or musicians.  Isn’t that what discipleship is all about? Passing it on yet relating to one another?  I am so proud of them.  

The Elders have decided to go into relational mentoring too, each one relating up to 2 or 3 individuals.  We look no further than our own younger deacons as well as other younger leaders in our midst.  There are 21 individuals in this first batch. Age range of mentorees: 20’s to early 40’s.  Age of Elders: 50’s to 60’s. We’ve just started.  So you will hear more about it in time to come.  Pray with us.

Some Frankelites and Council members are also getting together to review how we do our “family ministry” in this busy day and distracted age.   Presently we have pre-marital groups coming together under Maureen and Andrew or Geok Chye and Nancy or See Toh and Ing.  And although we encourage all first line family issues to be dealt with thru cells, there is a need to supplement that.

And it looks like the starting point is to link those ahead of the journey with those behind.  Older couples to younger ones.  New mothers with young ones are coming together with those whose children are a little older – sister Weng Khay and Joan meet a mother’s group each on Mon and Wed.

Did you also know that two men’s groups have started for some time?  One, comprising of people just out or still in the marketplace, meet at 6.30am every other Tues. Want to wake up – see Elder See Toh or Alex.  Another, considerably younger group of brothers, I am told, are starting to go cycling. Some are fathers, but some are single too.  All this is above and beyond the cells they are a part of.  It is a seasonal grouping, a mutual mentoring for a particular period of their lives.  

All these, to my delight, are bottom up initiatives, have been brewing for some time, but are taking off these past weeks or months.  Early signs of yet another spiritual stirring or movement.  Ultimately, it is the Lord who engineers these things.  


Brothers and sisters, we have the mandate to exercise our kingly authority and influence on all spheres of society.  We do that by embracing our role as spiritual leaders, men and women who would influence those around us meekly and humbly by our character, the strength and wisdom of the Spirit of God in thought, word and deed.   The question is: will you step forward to be spiritual men and women who will care about the things that God cares about – be it in church ministry, marketplace or missions?

Let me end with a true story, which I thank Elder Melville for reminding the Elders of when we met on Monday. It’s about God’s faithfulness to Hudson Taylor and the 9 generations of Taylors that had served him in China.

I’d like to share one part of the story I found on the OMF website as shared by Dr James Hudson Taylor the 3rd:

“My family returned to China after a home assignment in 1935-36. Japan attacked China in 1937. Kaifeng, where I was born and my parents were now teaching, was in a state of disruption. Prayer was a way of life.

Together as a family we memorized two Bible chapters, Isaiah 55 and Psalm 91, which Mother put to music. Dad booked a passage for the family to the United States, while he continued to pray. One morning he said to me, "Jamie, would you like to come to the shipping office?" "Dad, are we getting ready to leave for the States?" "No," he said, "I am going to cancel the tickets."

I was shocked; but the tickets were canceled. In early 1940, we four children stood at the dock as our parents sailed north to Tianjin. From there they went back into the interior, and later on to Xi’an in the far northwest.

Then, on December 7 Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. My parents were 700 miles away from the Schools we were attending in Shandong, (Yantai.)

All my mother could think of was her four children far away in Japanese-occupied China. With tears blinding her steps, she stumbled to her bedroom. There, falling on her knees, she did what any mother would do - she cried. She couldn’t form a prayer.

The country was now at war with Japan and she could not reach her children or get them out of danger. But as she knelt, God spoke to her through Matthew 6:33, paraphrased by her old pastor in Virginia:

"If you will take care of the things that are dear to God, God will take care of the things that are dear to you."

This was not an invitation to parental irresponsibility, but a promise from God to parents who were asked to play a unique role in the Chinese church during a crisis hour in its history.

God’s voice in that moment of anguish sustained my mother as the family remained separated for five and a half long years. But through all that time the Lord proved his faithfulness. Our teachers were an incredible source of comfort and encouragement, as was Eric Liddell, the hero of "Chariots of Fire." He touched our lives during our difficult teenage years, becoming a surrogate father to many of us.

The camp was liberated by American airmen in August 1945 and a month later our family was reunited in northwest China.

Church, I say this to you as spiritual leaders of YOUR generation:

"If you will take care of the things that are dear to God, God will take care of the things that are dear to you."

What are the things dear to God?  

Will you rise up to your spiritual destiny as men and women who will give the last great final push to fulfil the Great Commission, to make disciples – be it in church ministry, in the marketplace or in missions?

If you do, God will surely take care of the things that matter to you.



Sermon Notes




1. What God seeks:

  • God wants you to be a spiritual leader.

  • God wants you to move people toward His agenda.


2. What God does:


3. What God looks for:

A) The spiritual leader must BE…

  • S_______ filled and S__________ fed.

  • “When you are led by the Spirit, you will lead others spiritually.”

  • S________ hearted and loves people.

  • S________ to God and one another.


B) The spiritual leader must BELIEVE…

  • God’s A_______ is me! He wants to use you and me.

  • God’s A________ is better than mine.

  • God’s A________ to provide what I need is assured – power, insight, wisdom, strength, mentors (our schemes)


Next week - Spiritual Leadership II: How could we move someone towards God’s agenda?