LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP: Inner Lifestyle II

LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP: Inner Lifestyle II
By Hanna Shope

In this session, we will continue the discussion of the leader’s inner life, and how the inner being must conform to the image of our Lord, Jesus Christ. In the last session, we talked about Purity of Lifestyle, and we will continue in this same direction with another trait of a leader:

HUMILITY

Again we look to Daniel as an example of how a person remained a servant of the Lord even when he had risen to levels of power that few of us will ever attain. When Daniel was afforded an opportunity to
exalt himself, he directed the glory to the living God. We need to “turn on our Lights unto the World” to Daniel 2:27-30 and read those verses.

Notice that Daniel did not say that he knew the answer, but that God in heaven knew the answer. Daniel attributed to God all that he was able to discern for the king.

A humble spirit is the most evident hallmark of a leader. In Isaiah 42:8 we read, “I am the Lord; that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” God always has a way to bring His wayward children back to the straight and narrow. Humility demands recognition of the fact that others have traveled farther and are able to provide counsel and should receive honor. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed in humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (I Peter 5:5-6)

Almighty God is not one I would want to be resisting me, and we are told clearly that God resists anyone who is proud. In Micah 6:8 we read the requirement of god in this area: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” In Proverbs 6:16-17, notice what heads the list of things God hates! The same thing is evident in Proverbs 8:13.

Why does God oppose pride with such strength? Just as all Scripture, the Lord is making the path for us to be conformed to His standards for our own well-being. It is accepted in our minds that the way to a full and happy life is to get our eyes off ourselves and live for others. Leadership occurs when that is our lifestyle.

Pride, as shown, is the prime tool used by Satan to neutralize the witness of a Christian by getting us to keep our eyes on ourselves and off others and God. When we look at ourselves, we become
insensitive to others, we offend without being aware, we use others or abuse others to gain our ends. Whenever we, as leaders, allow this to happen, when we fail to “purpose in our hearts not to defile
ourselves” we lose our effectiveness in being a vessel of honor for God, and cease to be usable.

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better then themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” We have heard the story of King Uzziah in II Chronicles 26. The story tells about a king of sixteen years old that sought God, and God made him prosper. If we look at the verses from 3 to 8, we observe that God made Uzziah a powerful man. In verse 16, we see the pride rise up in Uzziah to the point where he thought that he was doing a favor for God and would present the sacrifices to the Holy of Holies himself! Here is a man that should be a warning to us all. He couldn’t handle success! Overcome with the “pride of life” Uzziah was struck down by God to die a piece at a time, which is a literal
representation of the way that we die inside when we duplicate the pride of Uzziah.

Leaders arrive at points where they must communicate their objectives and seek the best path to reach those objectives. At this juncture, Satan is ready to provide the greatest enemy – pride. When a leader is full of pride they cannot see the best way of reaching their goals – they see only the path that brings them glory, honor or acclaim. Pride blinds us to the best path and our mind refuses to be discerning. Pride only allows us to see what it wants us to see. Pride is deadly in its consequences as we see in Daniel 5:20.

“But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took glory from him.” We can compare this to the portrayal of the leader God seeks
and uses as found in Isaiah 66:1,2.

“Thus saith the Lord, ‘The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and
all those things have been,’ saith the Lord: ‘but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.'”

We are told in no uncertain terms that we are to give ALL the glory to God, and IF we try to hang on or touch that glory, we are finished as His ambassadors!

Pride, a disease in its own right, spawns two more diseases of the soul. IGNORANCE is the first to manifest itself in a prideful person’s life. Pride makes us think that we are self- sufficient and we become unteachable. We become blinded to our own needs, and we even ignore the advise and counsel of the Godly. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are
established” (Proverbs 15:22). The counsel of this nature MUST seek the interest of the Lord. Many of us seek only the advice of those that we know will agree with us or we become discouraged because we
can’t find unbiased opinions. Counsel given by anyone who has your best interest at heart can result in advice that is dead wrong. History is full of the leaders called of God that, if they had listened to friends and relatives, would never have gone out to where they were called.

Before seeking counsel, leaders must take an inventory to make certain that they have the following: They must be teachable without being gullible. They must weigh, carefully, the counsel received to
the Scripture and to the welfare of God’s kingdom. Just as Moses listened to Jethro, his FATHER IN LAW, we must have our hearts open and they must remain open to receive and be taught by others. “Where there is no counsel, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

The second disease brought on by pride is INSECURITY. The leader with his eyes on himself is excessively obsessed with how he appears to others. He constantly compares and measures himself by the yardstick of other people’s performance and becomes compelled to outdo them or equal them in his efforts. God tells us to forget it – “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (II Corinthians 10:12)

Instead of abiding in the knowledge that “God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased Him,” the leader with insecurity worries about what others think of him. His effectiveness
is reduced – he looks at himself – he no longer looks at the objectives. Co-workers become a threat rather than a help.

This leads a leader into two extremes. 1 – The leader will try to impress others with ambitious and big plans and programs designed to “show them what he can do” – or – 2 – He will retreat into inaction. Neither of these can be of God. God, as the One in total control, can use anything to His glory. If this leader launches the ‘BIG’ project, it is probable that the energy of the flesh will begin it and this will lead to failure. The other extreme is just as bad. The HUMBLE spirit in the life of a leader is a powerful force in the hands of the Almighty God.

Paul tells us how his weaknesses were glory to God, with attention drawn to his ‘thorn’ – “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: For my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:8-9)

How can a leader maintain a humble spirit before the Lord? It might be better to ask how can a leader NOT have a humble spirit before the Lord, but we need to address the first question. Many books are written on this subject, and I won’t recover old ground. I have noticed that one thing stands out from the lives of other great vessels of God. To walk humbly before the Lord we need to have a lifestyle – to live our entire lives – as one of true PRAISE. In Heaven, we are told in Revelation and Isaiah that the beings who surround the throne spend their time in praise to God by singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” When we live in this spirit of praise, we are more and more aware of our sinfulness and our
weaknesses. This reminder is not unhealthy introspection but one from a heart that is filled with His praises to God for being Holy and Almighty. God will use this, in turn, to thrust the leader out in faith. We have the promise of God that He will do it all, when we read “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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