Gehazi’s Downfall

Gehazi served Elisha; he was his ‘adjutant’ of sorts but something triggered in Gehazi’s heart that would change his life forever. Gehazi entertained a spirit of greed, covetousness, and dishonor which took root in his heart and harvested a great deal of trouble in his life. He betrayed his man of God, he worked behind his back, took what didn’t belong to him, and wiped his mouth clean as if he had done nothing wrong. Elisha knew full well what Gehazi had done and of the spirits Gehazi had been operating in but like Jesus, he held his peace. He allowed Gehazi to fully manifest and then came the judgment.I studied the 20th chapters and 17th verses(2017) in the Bible and Exodus 20:17 clearly warns against covetousness. It is a grave sin which opens the doors to many spirits of torment to attack a person’s life. Elisha was the set man, it was his right to receive gifts from Naaman whether he choose to or not but Gehazi clearly had neither lot or say in the matter. It was not his place to take anything from Naaman. He should have articulated his desires to Elisha and let Elisha decide from there but covetousness of the heart will impair judgment. It will cause one to think they are owed something, as if they are being ‘left out’ but this is a lie from the enemy. If you have to lie and deceive to meet a need, God is not the source of that need. Subsequently, Gehazi was afflicted with leprosy, a life time health condition and simultaneously lost his place in Elisha’s life. This was a high price to pay but God sent a message behind the judgement. Thou shalt not covet. Stay in your place of grace. Don’t graze in another man’s pasture unless invited to do so and above all, walk in honesty. Elisha sees you and so does the God of Elisha.

Source: (5) Delisa Lindsey

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Delisa Lindsey

Saul was so preoccupied with seeking after David that he neglected to watch his real enemy, the Philistines. The Philistines took his life and those of his sons and David took his throne.So many of us have focused on the wrong things and we wonder why our enemy has gained on us. Our eyes and attention is everywhere except where it needs to be and then the next thing we know, we have lost our place, those connected to us suffer, and God raises someone else up to take our place. Losing focus is costly. And what’s worse is you don’t know you’ve lost focus until it’s too late. When God tells you to pay attention, do it. He is still filling abandoned seats with his Davids.

Source: Delisa Lindsey

Moving in the Cloud of God

In his Sunday morning message, my husband made reference to the people of God who don’t move when the cloud of God moves. The cloud of God represents His glory, His anointing and it is expedient that the people understand that our God is a God of movement and timing. What has stunted many of us in the faith is that we have missed the movement of the cloud. We have camped ourselves out in a matter and some of us have been on that same camp site for so long that we have become comfortable, stubborn, and resistant to change. When the cloud of God moved, Israel moved. They kept their eyes on the movements of the Lord and followed the Lord where He led them.
You will miss your hour of visitation when you become comfortable in who you are because you won’t perceive the reason to change. You will miss your hour of visitation when you become relaxed because you are too comfortable to move. When a person is comfortable and relaxed in who they are and God brings change, they fight. Why? Because you are tampering with their comfort.
Jesus said in John 5:19, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way.”

Jesus knew the movements of the Lord. He knew the cloud of God and wherever God was, He went. It didn’t matter to him whether He had to confront devils, human agents of devils, the sick, the dead, or the immoral. If God moved in a certain area, Jesus followed pursuit. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Why are we still here….when God is ….there? Let us discipline our spirits to follow the Lord wherever He leads us. Let us remain open to change. Let us have an ear to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the church.

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The Importance of Spiritual Maturity

Our current church generation is saturated with many who claim a call to ministry. While many whose claim to the call is genuinely authentic, there are a great many more whose claims are invalid. Today’s minister face more in the line of temptations than any other preacher generation before us. Many are in competition with one another, spying on other ministries’ social media sites, and even attend conferences as peeping toms just to duplicate what they deem ‘successful’ ministry. With the ever increasing number of ministers with a claim to the call, there is hardly sufficient evidence of proof. Is there is an ever increasing number of souls translated into the Kingdom of God or turned to hell? Answer honestly. Churches are emptier than ever before.  Churches are under attack of gun violence like never before. Sin is prevalent in our churches like never before and compromise has not only raped our pulpits, it has swept across the entire congregation. If as many ministers are truly called as they have claimed, why aren’t our nation’s laws affected by Godly influence? Where is the thermostat of our ministers’ prayers for this nation set? We are cold.
We have more prophets than any other time on the face of the earth but we don’t see the Malachis turning the people back to the Father like we should. We don’t see the Elijahs tearing down pagan altars like they should. We don’t see the John the Baptists calling the people to repentance. We don’t see the Daniels ministering to kings and national leaders. We don’t see the Jeremiahs weeping and travailing for the sin-sick condition of our land. Something is off.
We have more apostles than any other time on the face of the earth but our churches are more out of order than ever. Doctrine has been replaced with sugar and we are spiraling out of control. We are not seeing healings, deliverance, salvation, and signs and wonders that are supposed to follow the apostles. When was the last time you have seen anyone in your church baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost? Demons cast out? Restoration of family, community, nation?
Many of today’s ministers lack spiritual maturity. They are newborn babies who caught a whiff of the glamor? of a title and ran with it. Many of them have never been personally mentored. They may have internet connections but there is no one standing with them who knows them personally. Jesus personally mentored His apostles. They were not internet sons and daughters, they were personal and up close with Him. He needed to see them on their good days in ministry and their not so good days in ministry. He needed to see their reactions to situations that occurred in their lives. He needed to see them lose their temper, make mistakes, fight and argue with one another, and witness their family relationships so He could better show them what it takes to be a true apostle of the Lord Jesus. Where has that gone? Who can take the rebuke that Peter took from Jesus and remain a son? Who can take being called a faithless and perverse generation and still follow Jesus? Where are ‘those’ people who can take a lick and keep on ticking? Instead, we have a generation of hypersensitive, overgrown babies wearing collars (or not) standing on a platform instructing someone how to live a life of faith that they, themselves, have not tested and tasted firsthand.
Saul/Paul was taken down his high place because he was in error. He was zealous for the work of God but didn’t fully and personally know God. He was humbled and blinded until further notice. He was not allowed to return to life as he knew it. God got a hold of him AND made him suffer for the Lord since he was such a nuisance to the Church. God forgave him but he still had a price to pay. Even after being called, and as knowledgeable as Paul was in the Holy Scriptures, he still had to wait fourteen years until he was released into public ministry. Jesus waited thirty years. David waited fifteen years. The apostles waited three and half years (they tutored under Jesus – go figure) but many of today’s preachers won’t wait six months. Do you see why there are so many problems among the people of faith today?

Paul wrote to Timothy, his spiritual son, and gave him instructions on setting leadership in place. 1 Timothy 3:6, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” Paul made it emphatically clear that a leader must be a person of experience or else he will fall into the trap of the devil. A novice is a new convert, a newly saved person, or someone inexperienced in a thing. I can’t tell you how many times I have personally seen a person claim a call or receive a ‘word’ from some great one telling them they are called, and instead of them submitting to discipleship, they print business cards and run for the hills. Saints, that is not the God-prescribed formula for leading ministry and this type of hastiness in ministry will not only leave that person vulnerable to satanic attack, but the people to whom they are ‘called’ to serve are just as vulnerable. The Lord is not returning for a ‘bastard’ house – a house without the Father. He is returning for a Bride – a woman (church) of submission. We have to set our ego and pride aside, rend our heart before the Lord, and get back in order. It is better to repent now and do your first works over than to continue in sin and face serious consequences later. 

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Seven Contrasts Between Fathers and Teachers

The Bible teaches us in 1 Corinthians 4:15 that we have many teachers but not many fathers in the church. During this Father’s Day season it is important to remember the significant role fathers play in the formation of both their spiritual and biological children. I speak as a person who functions in and understands both roles.
(In most situations when I am speaking outside of my local church I function as a teacher; with pastors and leaders to whom I am assigned I function more as a father with a teaching anointing.)
I realize that we can also make a case for mothering and spiritual mothers. Because I am speaking based on personal experience I will limit my remarks to fathering.
The following are (perhaps exaggerated) generalities to accentuate the different functions of fathers and teachers.
I. Teachers disseminate information; Fathers pour out their lives
The primary function of a teacher is to take the revelation of Scripture and make it practically applicable for everyday living.
While teachers are called primarily to spend time studying and dispensing knowledge and information, fathers are primarily called to pour out their lives to those for whom they are responsible. A father’s primary method of teaching is through modeling excellence and wisdom in one’s life for one’s spiritual children. Fathers go by the adage “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
This is the primary method Paul used to disciple Timothy, his foremost disciple. In a summation of his discipleship method, Paul reminded Timothy of “his way of life” right before his own martyrdom (2 Timothy 4:10-11). Paul defended his apostleship by illustrating his patient endurance in the midst of suffering, not by recounting his greatest sermons (read 2 Corinthians 11:16-32). Also, he not only spent for his children but he expended himself as well (2 Corinthians 12:15).
II. Teachers are motivated by illumination; Fathers are motivated by personal transformation
As a teacher in the body of Christ, I am constantly motivated to learn and understand more about the Scriptures and leadership principles so that I can pass my learning on through writing and preaching. However, when it comes to those in my special circle of people that I am assigned to father, I am more motivated by seeing the teachings bear fruit for personal transformation. I am called to walk with them, correct them, encourage them, and aid them in their life journeys so they will maximize their fullest potential. It is not enough for me to teach those in this group; I need to be available to coach them in their personal lives as well.
III. Teachers search for students; Fathers search for sons and daughters
Teachers enjoy nothing more than being in a room full of hungry students that can pull knowledge, information, and insight out of them. Those wired by God to father only view the classroom as an entree to find potential leaders they can have long-term connections with toward a process of aiding them in their journeys of becoming mature sons and daughters of Christ.
IV. We have many teachers; We do not have many fathers
Though there are countless teachers, mentors, and coaches in the body of Christ who can edify all of us, each person is only assigned one primary father for their life’s journey. For example, in biological families there is only one father and one mother, though a person may have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings who impact their life.
I believe when Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 4:15, he is also referring to the fact that so few saints in the church ever continue to mature enough in the faith so as to take on the role of a spiritual father. Through 30 years of full-time ecclesial ministry I also concur that rare indeed is this function! How sad it is that most of the pastors and leaders in the church try to replace the “way of Jesus and the apostles” with Bible institutes and schools. Formal Bible studies and education will never take the place of the model of nurturing leadership modeled in the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and the epistles. One of the reasons for so much disloyalty and splitting in the church is because of a lack of fathering between senior pastors and their spiritual children, because children will have resentment and rebel against fathers who do not spend time with them.
I believe the primary reason many leaders in the body of Christ die unsatisfied and unfulfilled is because when they look back on their lives they see that they have not left behind a legacy of spiritual children that will carry on their work. Fame, speaking at large conferences, or writing best-selling books will never satisfy a person in old age like having their children around them!
V. Teachers bask in joy at academic success; Fathers enjoy life success
Teachers are thrilled when their students do well in school and become great students of the word. Fathers realize that, just because someone is filled with knowledge and has a great grasp of biblical knowledge, there is no guarantee that person will have a successful personal life and fulfill their mission. John said that he had no greater joy than to find his children walking in the truth–not in his children merely having the truth (2 John 4; 3 John 4).
VI. Teachers have an intellectual connection with their students; Fathers have a heart connection with their children
Teachers are stimulated when they have deep intellectual exchanges with students and congregations while teaching and preaching, or while doing question & answer sessions during informal discussions. They walk away from such encounters extremely satisfied because of the opportunity to dispense their vast knowledge. Fathers are not satisfied with such exchanges unless it also involves a long-term strategy to be involved in a process of pouring their lives into their students. This is because fathers are motivated more by a heart-to-heart connection than an exchange of the minds. Heart-to-heart connections delve into the heart, the mind, the soul, and the emotions of a person; they enable a father to penetrate beyond the surface and into the real life of a son or daughter. While a teacher may get excited when a student screams amen during a great lecture, a father desires to peer into the (compartmentalized) life of a son or daughter with the intent to bring wholeness and integrity, so that their teachings can bear much fruit and bring their children to maturity.
VII. Teachers desire opportunity to teach; Fathers seek opportunity for their sons and daughters to minister
Teachers bask in the opportunity to teach, even to the point where they would do it for nothing if they had to! They are always looking for a platform to get out their vast knowledge through preaching, teaching, blogging, books, CD’s, DVD’s, and all other forms of available media. They gauge their level of success in life by how far and wide their teachings are being heard and received by the masses.  On the other hand, fathers do not gauge their success by the extent of their ministry platform but by the extent of the platform they prepare for their spiritual seed. They take greater pleasure being in the background while those they have poured into are bearing much fruit in the foreground! Instead of living for their 15 minutes of fame they live to wash the feet of their children and committing their lives to their success!
Finally, while many are attempting to preach and teach a message, not too many are willing to live that message out, through those they have spent years coaching into maturity for the maximization of their potential for the glory of God and expansion of His kingdom.
Oh God, give us more fathers! – Joseph Mattera

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Pride – Public Enemy #1

Pride is the most dangerous weapon of Satan, and worst of all the Adamic “echoes from Eden” that we deal with when “putting off the old man”, as Paul admonished us in Ephesians 4:22-24: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Those who are young in the Lord are most susceptible this snare of the devil: “not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

But even those who are spiritually mature sons of God are still open to the temptations of pride. Jesus was just confirmed as that mature son that was well-pleasing to the Father when Satan came to look for pride in His life. The famous Temptation of Jesus found in Matthew 4:1-14 shows that Satan’s arsenal of most powerful weapons included the “sin of pride.” When the enemy came to Jesus, he didn’t know that Jesus was not the same as all men in Adam – he didn’t understand the Mystery of the Incarnation. So he proceeded to probe (tempt) Jesus for those things that result most commonly in our downfall, including Fleshly Appetite, Foolishness and Pride. He saved the most powerful temptation for last when he probed Jesus for any pride that may have been in his heart: “I’ll make you famous if you just worship me” (my paraphrase). Jesus responded with humility to the temptation to pride, saying, “I am a servant of God, I humble myself to Him only” (my paraphrase). Satan left to regroup for another attack, bewildered and mystified by Jesus’ ability to withstand him in spiritual warfare using the Sword of the Spirit.

Satan wants to take out our spiritual sons as well, and he will come to them with the powerful weapon of pride. If they are susceptible to the illusion of their greatness that he attempts to plant in their minds, they will do down and be mired in shame.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

“When prides comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs11:2)

Pride will cause a person to walk away from the three most important things God wants for us:

Number One is CHARACTER. In order to walk in pride, we have to walk away from humility; it is a choice that one makes to refuse to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Humility is the greatest characteristic of a true spiritual leader, apostle, or spiritual father. Paul always identified himself “first” as a servant (humble) of God before stating his ministry gift (Titus 1:1). Humility is a proper estimation of self while pride is an over estimation of self. Jesus, as a servant, had “lowliness of mind” while pride is manifested as “high-mindedness.”

Number Two is COVERING. When pride has taken over, a person will walk away from their spiritual covering, thinking they “know better” than those God has appointed to guide them (Hebrews 13:17). When a person is in pride, they view their spiritual leadership as a “lid” and not a “covering” that gives them protection through accountability. They feel no more need to be accountable, and trust only their own thinking and reasoning, not realizing that they are now open to severe demonic assault by “being uncovered.”

Number Three is CALLING. When pride has run its course it usually result

s in an unfulfilled destiny, a calling that is not fully realized, and satan has done his job by stopping a God-intended purpose from coming to fruition. All ministry leaders have witnessed these sad casualties of battle, and have grieved deeply for their loss.

It is a hard thing to recover from a fall into pride; not many make it back to their Character, Covering and Calling. With God all things are possible, and that is why Paul instructed Timothy on how to serve those who need to recover from the “snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). In this Restoration of Apostolic Ministry we must be ever conscious of the enemy’s plans to take people out with pride. We must walk in the deepest humility as God’s Servants.
© 2014 Dr. John Polis

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Who is God Promoting for Leadership and Who Isn’t?

Note: These days the name ‘preacher’ does not carry with it the integrity that the true meaning requires. Because we are in the last days, scoffers have made a mockery of ministry and have successfuly confused the people as to who God has called and who God has not. The Word of God tells us to inspect the fruit that we can tell the workings of a person beyond what they proclaim. The discerning of spirits must be stronger among us than never before that we are not deceived. – Delisa Lindsey

Scripture is replete with examples of how leaders rise and fall. One of the reasons why I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God is because it so honestly and accurately portrays the plight of human beings regarding their reasons for success and failure. It adequately portrays the dark side of the saints of old and is not like the common biographies of great people in history that are more hagiographic in nature than historic (that is, they don’t reveal the failures of the person).
From what I have observed many, if not most, leaders do not end well. The following reasons have to do with long-lasting success or failure. Some may experience both for a short period of time but not end up that way in the long term.

The following are 11 reasons why leaders are promoted by God for lifelong effectiveness:

I. They are promoted by God to be used by God to complete a particular assignment

God promotes who He chooses (Psalm 75:6-7). There is no other explanation. There are some folks that we know who are very effective and very godly leaders who are not very well known. Then, there are well known leaders who are not very effective or godly. It is a divine mystery to why God gives some people more of a public platform than others. Like Paul said, no person should boast or brag as if they themselves have elevated themselves; everything we have received has come from God. Thus we should not be jealous of others or become worried about the amount of influence we have (Proverbs 3:5-7; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 10:12-18).

II. They have learned to live a life of brokenness and dependence on God instead of living a life based on their own strength and giftedness

I have been in full-time ministry for almost 30 years, and one thing I have found is that the true people of God who have a track record of long-time success all have one thing in common: they have allowed the Lord to break their strong wills and soften their stubborn hearts. Like Jacob of old, they walk with a limp (Genesis 32:24-31). Anyone who has allowed God to deal with them will walk with a limp. I don’t trust any leader who doesn’t walk with a limp!

III. They have learned from the lessons of the past

All of us will go through great challenges in our lives. The book of Proverbs tells us that a person who accepts correction is wise (10:8) but a fool refuses correction (15:5). In the arena of life, not only will wise people like our parents or pastors attempt to correct us, but the situations of life are also orchestrated by God so that we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-30). The wise person learns from both people and life experience and doesn’t repeat serious mistakes.

IV. They have learned from the lessons of what others have experienced

Effective leaders do a lot of reading of other successful leaders, and do a lot of listening when in the company of wise, great leaders. We have to do more listening than speaking and make time to fellowship with great minds by reading the books of those we want to emulate.

V. They get adequate counsel

Proverbs teaches us that before we go to war we need an abundance of counsel. To be effective you must learn to hire staff based on your weaknesses, while concentrating on your areas of expertise and strength. The smartest people in the world are those who know and have access to the smartest people they can possibly surround themselves with.

VI. They have adequate coaching and mentoring in specific areas of need

I have an inner circle of people and receive coaching in numerous areas of my life. I don’t have the time to read every available book or get every available degree, so I constantly receive coaching and mentoring from others with more expertise than me in areas like administration, finances, law, nutrition, health, emotional well-being, marriage and relationships, etc. If I didn’t have people who constantly coached me then I would be a disaster and would greatly limit my leadership ceiling!

VII. They are accountable to others

If you desire long-lasting success then you must have accountability regarding your finances, marriage, personal relationships, how you do ministry, strategic planning, and the like. Because all of us have a dark side, we need to have open relationships with people God has assigned to us and give permission to speak correction into our lives.

VIII. They live a balanced life that includes emotional and physical health

Jesus was both human and divine. Many of us forget that we must take care of our emotional and physical health, not just run on spiritual fumes and anointing! We are called to love our neighbor even as we love ourselves. If we do not care for ourselves we will burn out and not be able to be a blessing to others! We need to set physical and emotional boundaries that limit our activities and what we say yes to, so that we will remain a blessing to our families and have time to minister to the Lord for self-renewal.

IX. They know how to read, interpret, and discern the hearts of other key people around them

This is not something that can be taught. Great leaders have an intangible, intuitive ability to read other people accurately. They usually know who to trust and who to partner with. Often, they can tell when God is connecting them to someone instantly, even without meeting that person before!

X. They have a heart after God more than a desire for promotion and ministry

For long-lasting success we need to come to a place where we truly desire to seek God and know God more than making Him known! Only then can God trust us.

XI. They have prudence in the governance of their ministry

A person once told me that he heard Billy Graham met with his team many years ago and decided on certain core things they would always follow for the success of their ministry:

a. Excellence in administration (vision without administration is only a pipe dream!)

b. Never be alone with a woman who you are not married to.

c. Never exaggerate: they vowed to call their ministry what it really was. If there were 50 people in a meeting then they would say publicly that there were 50 people at the meeting; don’t say there were 150 people, etc.

d. Have financial scrutiny and integrity. Hiring outside independent auditors as if they were IRS agents checking the ministry’s books is something every leader should do on an annual basis.

Reasons for the fall of leaders:

I. They live out of their natural giftedness and spiritual anointing but do not build on character and integrity.

First Corinthians teaches that the Corinthian Church lacked no gift (1:7) yet they were also carnal, acting like mere babes in Christ (3:1-4). It is no accident that, after the great chapter describing the manifestations of the Spirit (12), the next chapter is fully devoted to love (13). Paul says that if we have faith that can move mountains but have not love we are nothing! Matthew 7:21-23 tells us that we can do miracles and still miss the Kingdom of Heaven! We need to focus on living a life in which the love of God is fully integrated into our character and habit patterns. This is the only way we can build a long-lasting foundation.

II. They have not learned how to process pain

Because leaders are targets and often experience betrayal they need to learn to give adequate time to process the pain they feel when someone leaves their church or organization. If we do not fully process and face our pain then these unresolved issues will spill over and cause anger, resentment, sarcasm, and bitterness that seep into our lives, cause great dysfunction, and cut off the ability for ministry longevity. We have to learn to grieve, mourn, and process pain until we fully face it and fully forgive before we move on to the next phase of our lives and relationships.

III. They are emotionally immature in certain areas of their lives

Any area of our lives in which we were traumatized–even as a young child–will cause us to stop growing emotionally until we actually face the trauma and allow the Lord to release us from it and heal our hearts. Often this means we also have to forgive folks, whether they are still alive or dead.

IV. They are quick to form an opinion and judge others

V. They are not aware of their dark side and so live in self-deception

We purposely allow areas of discomfort to be rationalized away or pushed aside so we can paint our own picture of ourselves, our worth, and our ministries. Often, the reality of who we think we are does not line up with who God made us to be. Exhibition A is watching the tryouts for American Idol. Some people have no skill in singing and yet they are convinced, based on years of dreaming certain things, that they will one day become a superstar. Simon Cowell of American Idol may be rude and blunt but at least he gives people a shot of reality!

VI. They live for the future and are never living in the present

Many leaders live miserable lives because they are always yearning for something more. Unfortunately, they are never really living in the present but only in past regrets, and the future. Thus they never stop to enjoy and appreciate the people around them, instead taking advantage of them so they can reach their illustrious “future.” I am sick and tired of some of the prophecies that come forth about some glorious future that may or may not come to pass in our lifetime. I think we also need prophecies getting us to appreciate what God and who God has put in our lives today so we can begin to maximize our gifts and release our great potential. If we don’t appreciate what God is doing in the present He can’t trust us with a more glorious future (1 Thes. 5:16, 18)!

VII. They use people instead of loving people

Many are the leaders who view the people around them merely as objects to serve in the church–to tithe or to be some kind of blessing to bring them and their organization to the next level. God is looking for leaders who will celebrate and not exploit the people He has entrusted to them!

VIII. They have a heart for ministry more than a heart for God

Those who only seek God or study the Bible to preach a message are truly missing it. I have found that when I seek God just to delight in Him, He pours amazing messages into me for the church and gives me all the strategy I need to go to the next level. God chose King David because he was a man after God’s heart!

IX. They do not receive correction or coaching from others

I have been with leaders who did not want to hear any negative things about their life or ministry. Hence, they never grew and often failed and left their positions in Christ. We need each other not only for moral support but even so we can effectively hear from God as a hermeneutical community.  Those who can learn from the community of people God has surrounded them with will grow the fastest. This is one of the things I admire so much about Bill Hybels. He radically changed the way he did church based on an honest church survey that he calls “REVEAL.” If he wasn’t open to hearing from God from his community then he would still be attempting to employ unsuccessful strategies to make disciples in his local church today.

X. They seek and need the approval of men more than the approval of God

Many who are involved in ministry have never dealt with the need for approval from a father who abandoned them. Thus they are ministering more out of a need for respect and affirmation than to please God. Consequently, they will live without limits and say yes to numerous ministry endeavors that God didn’t lead them to do. They will also push their churches to fund projects more because they desire a monument that points to the success in their lives than being motivated to expand the Kingdom of God. These leaders often burn out and have terrible family relationships because, ultimately, they are “driven”  personal need more then being led by the Spirit of Christ. – Joseph Mattera

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WHY GREAT LEADERS MUST SUFFER MORE THAN OTHERS

One day I was pondering why all the leaders I know with much influence all seem to have one thing in common: they have all suffered much in their lives. In fact, every one of them has a particular cross to bear, or they have gone through horrendous seasons of pain and suffering that were part of a divine process that made them and continues to mold them into the highly effective leaders they are today. (These challenges can be relational issues with their spouses, children, other leaders, etc. or they can be personal issues related to their spiritual, emotional or physical wellbeing.)
We see this illustrated in Acts 9 when God tells Ananias that Paul would have to suffer much for the name of Jesus (Acts 9:16). We can read Paul’s own testimony about himself regarding the reason for his suffering in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10:
I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
According to this passage Paul’s suffering was connected to his leadership ability and great calling, which had to be tempered through his suffering because of our human sin nature that has a propensity to boast about our own accomplishments. God has to allow pain in our lives to keep us dependent upon Him because all of us are born in sin with the fleshly tendencies to brag about our own accomplishments and trust in our own gifts, abilities and flesh instead of in His grace.
As I view my own life and the lives of others I know personally, I can see how the very things that make us successful are also connected to our sin nature, which has been the root of much sin in our lives. For example, in my own life the stubbornness, perseverance and tendency to move forward for the sake of Christ in spite of all obstacles is connected to how, in my childhood, I coped with rejection, isolation and pain through making a name for myself by excelling in street fighting, sports, music and in other areas of life—all to carve out a name and identity for myself so I would be praised, respected and celebrated by my peers. Although this developed in me qualities of perseverance in the midst of pain and suffering it was for my glory and not for God’s glory!
Thus, the development of qualities I use to this day as part of my leadership portfolio – my gifts and abilities – are directly connected to the habits/patterns I developed out of my sin nature and my desire to carve out a name for myself for the sake of self-worth and self-esteem. This shows me that God even used my sins for His glory!
In summary: the gifts and abilities I use today as a leader in the Body of Christ were originally inspired, molded and developed in the fiery furnace of self-survival in my childhood which all emanated out of a desire to make a name for myself and not for the Lord Jesus Christ! So my gifts and calling are inextricably connected to the very sin nature Jesus had to die for! This is why God has to continually allow great challenges, pain and suffering in my life as a way of tempering my tendency to depend upon myself, honor myself and trust in myself for results!
The greater the leader, the more stubborn they have to be to resist temptation, to stay focused, and to be successful—even though this same stubbornness may have originally developed and emanated out of their personal rebellion against God before they were saved! Thus, there is always a fine line between our great leadership qualities and our sinful tendencies to rebel against God and build our own kingdoms! (This also explains why great leaders often fall into scandal, especially if they allow their hectic schedules to crowd out their continual need for spiritual formation in God’s presence.)
Going back to the Apostle Paul: as he matured, he actually bragged more about his weaknesses than his accomplishments so the power of Christ could rest on him!  What a far cry from some of today’s preachers who are constantly bragging about how much victory, power and accomplishments they have in their ministries! In reality, the more spiritually immature leaders are, the more they will brag about accomplishments; the more mature they are, the more they will brag about their weaknesses and glorify Christ’s grace that empowers them!
Finally, understanding these concepts should help us in two areas. First, instead of discouraging leaders this should be a great source of encouragement since many leaders suffer silently because they are embarrassed and think they are the only leaders continually dealing with painful issues, something Satan can use to cause a leader to quit out of sheer discouragement and a sense of failure. Leaders should take heart and know that they are not alone in their pain. To the extent a leader has influence, to that extent they will have to endure the process of pain so their gifts and abilities can be continually redeemed for the glory and honor of God.
Second, the key to discovering and dealing with the dominant sin issues in our lives is to honestly reflect on our talents, gifts and abilities and how we have trusted in them to manipulate others, control our environments for self-autonomy, and to carve out a name for ourselves. This is similar to how Lucifer attempted to do the same when his pride motivated him to attempt to exalt himself above the throne of God for self-autonomy and self-glorification (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Understanding this enables us to have a greater understanding and appreciation for the depths and riches of the love and grace of God, who loves us and even uses the very abilities that have been connected to our self-glorification, fleshly preservation and desires to carve out names for ourselves. This tendency must constantly be checked with challenges, obstacles and the issues of life. God surrounds power with problems so that, by the time we have power and influence, we have become so broken, humble and dependent upon God that we would not be so quick to share the glory with God for the great accomplishments that arise out of our feeble efforts! – Joseph Mattera
Joseph Mattera has been in full-time church ministry since 1980 and is currently the Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York. He is also serving as the United States Ambassador for the International Coalition of Apostles, and as one of the founding presiding bishops of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches.

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