A Christian leader faces the same challenges that any other leader does. And a Christian leader can help himself to any of the tools other leaders use to help them lead well. But the Christian leader has one powerful tool that others do not. Prayer.
Like any tool, it may take some practice and some skill to access this tool’s full potential. Often when we think of prayer, we think of asking God to do something for us. We come to him with a request. But that is only one aspect of prayer.
Another way to use prayer is to learn to listen to God. We are so used to telling God our problems and asking him to do something about them, and that is often where a Christian leader stops. Yet if we learn to listen, God will do much more for us through prayer than just respond to our grocery list of requests.
Here are some of the ways that I have benefited from this great tool we have.
- God encourages through prayer.
Every leader faces opposition from time to time in their leadership, and Christian leaders are not exempt. As a pastor, I have faced opposition many times, both from inside and outside the church I have been asked to lead. People have called me names, accused me of being controlling, demanded I be removed from my position, and more. People have not liked what I stood for and deliberately chosen to walk in a different direction. I have faced opposition from within myself. There are times I have been disappointed in what my leadership accomplished. I have been disappointed in goals not met. I have been discouraged and depressed.
These are not uncommon problems for leaders to face. There are times we need encouragement. We might find some of it in books or in encouraging words from other leaders or supporters of ours. But I have found that some of the most powerful encouragement has come directly from God.
God has encouraged me as I listened to him. One time he told me: “you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” This was powerful for me as I had just come through one of the most difficult times in my ministry. Another time, God affirmed that I was on the right track. I was a little unsure of the direction to lead the church and in a conversation with Him, I heard (or felt) Him say, “You are on the right track. Just keep going.”
God encourages the Christian leader through listening prayer where we actually hear God or sense God speaking words of encouragement to us.
- God directs through prayer.
Every leader needs to know where they are going. They need to know where they are trying to take their organization. They need to know the priorities of the day. Sometimes we get caught up in the urgent needs of the moment and begin to veer off track from our intended goals. I love the fact that I can talk with God about my day and ask Him for direction for the day. I am serving as a Transition Pastor right now and have a limited time to work with the church through the various exercises. There are times when I have had to readjust my schedule because it just was not working. As I talked with God about it, I was able to patiently let him give me the priorities of the week.
- God instructs through prayer.
One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to instruct and remind the believer of God’s truth. When we pray, we are able to hear God speaking to us through the Holy Spirit. There are times we will be reminded of certain scriptures that speak into a situation that we are facing. There will be times when we will be given an idea or a concept to put into practice that clearly did not come from our own wisdom but from God.
If we pray and read scripture together, God uses those scriptures we are reading to give us insight into how and what we should be learning and doing in our leadership.
There are many tools available to leaders today. One of the best and most powerful tools the Christian leader can access is prayer and hearing God speak directly into their leadership. Pray, not just with a list of requests for God, but with a listening attitude and God will direct your paths.
Keep looking up,