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Summary: General John Galvin, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was asked what was it like to be in charge of a variety of forces. His reply: “I often feel like the director of a cemetery. I have a lot of people under me but nobody listens

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Learning to Lead in Formal and Informal Settings (I Cor 9:19-27)

Some leaders are comfortable in formal settings but are awkward informally relating to people. Jonathan Edwards, the former President of Princeton Seminary was dismissed as the Pastor of his local church for that very reason. Parishioners became disillusioned with Edwards because of his unwillingness to visit them in their homes and engage in small talk. The great theologian preferred to spend lengthy times in his study preparing sermons, writing theological textbooks and spending time alone with God. Even today, people chafe at hard-edged leaders who are cold in their interpersonal relationships. However, people tend to only temporarily follow frothy Pastors who fail to exhibit consistent leadership in distressing times.

Illustration: A Christian Leader

Cal Thomas found himself called a “Christian leader” by a leading Christian magazine and he wondered what that meant. More speaking engagements? Perhaps an appearance on a Christian talk show? “It would certainly give me the right to start putting Scripture references under my signed name in books I have written. I would surely sign more Bibles, which I find a curious practice since I didn’t write that Book.”

Thomas wonders if we have reversed things. God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.

“In a church I once attended, there was a man of tremendous faith. His wife is an alcoholic, His daughter has psychological problems. He was often poor in health. Yet, week after week, he never complained. He always smiled and asked me how I was doing. He faithfully brought to church a young blind man who had no transportation. He always sat with the blind man, helping him sing the hymns by saying the words into his ear. That man was a ‘Christian leader’ if ever there was one.”

1. The Holy Spirit transforms us into Christ image enabling us to effectively lead in formal and informal situations. Paul wrote, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Cor. 3:18) Ask the Lord to help you be willing to let the Spirit of God teach you everything about becoming an effective leader in formal and informal ministries.

Illustration: Are You a Leader?

S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, “Are you a leader?” Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, “No,” and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college:

“Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.”

S. I. McMillen, None of These Diseases.

2. The Holy Spirit knows how to balance each leader’s weakness with His corresponding strengths. The Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9) Ask the Lord to help complement whatever leadership weakness you might have with His sufficient strength, enabling and skill.


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