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22 Critical Ministry Imperatives

11. Leadership requires a finding and sustaining strength.

Paul encouraged Timothy 25 times to be strong, endure, hold up, keep at it and don’t stop. Being strong is a necessity, not an option. But in what are we supposed to be strong?

1. Be strong in the grace of God.

Paul specifically says, be strong in the “grace”—God’s divine help, unmerited gift of assistance. Ministry today is demanding and a continual giving of virtue. Spiritual leadership must have a spiritual flow, a virtue that is ever-present. Continually guard and renew yourself.

2. Be strong in the strength of God.

Sustain a strong commitment to the house of God. Keep your heart focused on God’s strength in you and pace your strength for the entire journey. Gain strength with every battle and finish like a mighty warrior.

3. Sustain strength with continuing strength.

Continuing strength is an immovable, unwavering determination. Most of us know how to have this kind of strength. We usually call it “stubbornness.” Use that sense of obstinacy, of not deviating from the course, to fight through any season of life and ministry and maintain a relentless faith in the saving might of God.

12. Leadership requires mentoring proven leaders.

We as leaders are charged not to keep things but to pass them on to others. Share your secrets. Give away your nuggets. Mentor the right people, the people who are faithful. Faithful teach the faithful to be faithful, and the cycle continues. Mentors are strong servant-leaders who place faithfulness above success, character above function, motives above activities, humility above promotions and others above self.

A mentor is a good listener, knowledgeable, nonjudgmental, honest and candid, motivating, and gives constructive criticism and time. Do these characteristics mark your leadership?

13. Great leadership is not automatic.

The call to leadership must be accepted, embraced and then pursued with diligence and hard work. Today’s leadership directive from the apostle Paul comes from 2 Timothy 2:3-6:

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.”

The directive here is that leadership requires multilevel disciplines at a high level.

Paul mentions three groups of people in this passage: soldier, athlete and farmer. Let’s look at each person and see how they apply discipline to their lives and how their discipline can relate to us in leadership.

Soldier: The soldier’s disciplines are those that save your life and the lives of those around you. A soldier’s disciplines include putting on armor, training the body’s reaction to a noise or a command, performing physical fitness and readiness drills, reading procedural manuals, studying the enemy’s strategy, getting adequate food and rest, and target practice.

Along with the soldier’s individual disciplines, soldiers do not operate alone. Even Special Forces operators operate with a “buddy” principle. They never go anywhere without a partner, and no one is left behind.

In leadership, we must be disciplined to endure hardships now, to do those disciplines that are difficult but will save our lives later when we are called upon. We also must never operate alone. Our always-present partner is the Holy Spirit and we must join with Him and with the other leaders He has strategically placed in our lives.

Athlete: The athlete’s discipline is playing by the rules. You cannot break the rules. You never out-smart or out-live broken rules. The laws of physics and gravity cannot change. You might fly in an airplane and think you are defying gravity, but in reality, you are relying on the principle of gravity to make flight possible. We cannot out-smart rules.

Do the work. Go to the gym, lift the weights, eat right, sleep, rest, recover, then do it again. Don’t fudge on the small things.