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 Persevering Leadership: Standing Through the Storms

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Female Number of posts : 147
Location : Ohio
Registration date : 2008-01-27

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Name: Sis. Du Wright
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PostSubject: Persevering Leadership: Standing Through the Storms   Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:30 pm

Persevering Leadership: Standing Through
the Storms.
By Doug Stringer

4 Ways to become stronger, overcome spiritual attacks and uncertainty in your life.

We live in a world of global uncertainties, surrounded with personal and corporate challenges – from natural disasters to human disasters to spiritual disasters. It is a time when, more than ever, we need courageous leaders. We need men and women who will stay the course, who walk in authority because they are under authority, who keep sight of the promises of God, who stand firm without wavering and without compromise.

But at this time when we need godly leadership more than ever, leaders are dropping out of the fight and leaving a dangerous void. According to Dr. James Dobson, 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month! A study conducted by Dr. Robert Clinton from Fuller Seminary showed that 70 percent of leaders historically, biblically, and currently do not finish well.
We live in a world of global uncertainties, surrounded with personal and corporate challenges – from natural disasters to human disasters to spiritual disasters. It is a time when, more than ever, we need courageous leaders. We need men and women who will stay the course, who walk in authority because they are under authority, who keep sight of the promises of God, who stand firm without wavering and without compromise.

But at this time when we need godly leadership more than ever, leaders are dropping out of the fight and leaving a dangerous void. According to Dr. James Dobson, 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month! A study conducted by Dr. Robert Clinton from Fuller Seminary showed that 70 percent of leaders historically, biblically, and currently do not finish well.

Scripture tells us in Luke 21 that we will see more and more earthquakes, wars, plagues, and calamities. In light of all of this, as leaders, we must be prepared so that we can turn these situations into an occasion for our testimony (Luke 21:13) and finish the race set before us.

Over the past few years, I have been hearing God speak to me continually about the critical importance of returning to the basics of our faith: our foundation, our alignments, and our consistency in daily disciplines. So many of us are building on a cracked foundation. We are aligned inappropriately, and we are inconsistent in our disciplines. I wrote my book Born to Die…that we may live because of this conviction that we must return to the foundation of our faith that is found in the work of the cross and the power of the resurrection.

1. The Right Foundation
Hebrews 12:27 tells us all that can be shaken will be shaken, and only that which cannot be shaken will remain. We must build on the right foundation to ensure that what we are building will stand, and that foundation is the cross. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-26: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” The storms and the shaking to come should not be feared. As Paul Romer, a top U.S. economist, has said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of IBM, addressed the Harvard School of Business in 2002 and said, “Transformation of an enterprise begins with a sense of crisis or urgency.”

A leader’s true character is revealed in times of pressure and crisis. That’s because pressure magnifies. God does not need leaders who can avoid storms. He is looking, instead, for persevering leaders who can build on a foundation that will last in the midst of them! He is looking for leaders who are in proper alignment in the Kingdom and in the Body of Christ. And He is looking for leaders who are consistent in their daily disciplines of prayer, giving, and studying the Word.

2. Characteristics of Persevering Leaders
We have a saying in our ministry that we want to be “Gold Medalists for God.” But what does it take to do that, especially with the challenges to leadership that are so prevalent in the times in which we live?

Shun Fujimoto was a Japanese gymnast in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal who was expected to win the gold medal. Fujimoto broke his right kneecap during the floor exercises, but continued on for two more events: the pommel horse and the rings. Focusing only on his goal and not on his pain, Fujimoto scored a 9.5 on the horse. He then earned his highest score ever on the rings at 9.7 with a nearly flawless performance that included a triple somersault dismount that sent pain like a knife searing through his leg. As a result of his tenacity and commitment, the Japanese team was able to win the gold medal. When asked later how he was able to do it, he said, in effect, “My desire to win was greater than my moment of pain.”

I experienced a similar incident when I was a wrestler in high school. It was the 1974 Far East Nationals, and I was ranked number one in all of Japan in my weight class. On the first day of competition, I fractured my left elbow. Pain raced through my arm as my coach nurtured the injury with bandages and ice. The next day he asked, “Do you want to go on?” Though my swollen elbow still throbbed with pain, I said, “Yes, I have to. I’ve come too far to quit now.” Like Fujimoto, my desire to win was greater than my moment of challenge.

My spiritual father, the late Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, used to say, “Winners don’t see what they’re going through, they only see where they’re going to.” What we need today are leaders of courage who are able to look past their moments of personal challenge and keep their focus on their destination. We need leaders of character who demonstrate the four basic qualities God is looking for in persevering and courageous leaders:

God wants leaders of humility and brokenness.
Proverbs 22:4 states, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life” (NKJV). Leaders of humility are men and women who don’t feel they have to make their own name known or push their own agendas. They are content to build only on the foundation the Lord has laid, to wait on Him, and to watch as He brings the increase. Leaders of humility recognize the importance of always being a “Disciple in Training,” who know the only time we can say we have “arrived” is when we hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It’s like the GPS in my car – it doesn’t say “You have arrived” until I have reached my intended destination!

God wants leaders with a strong personal prayer life.
Time, like light, makes things manifest. Light exposes anything in darkness and brings things to the surface. What we do behind closed doors when nobody is watching us will determine the power of God, or lack of it, that we demonstrate in public. That’s why it is so important for each of us to have a strong personal prayer life, creating a deep foundation that will keep us from falling during the storm and during the shaking.

God wants leaders with a Kingdom vision.
As I often say, “While men reach for thrones to build their kingdoms, Jesus reached for a towel to wash men’s feet.” Leaders who build that which will last are those who have a vision of something bigger than themselves. They are not merely building their own kingdoms; they are calling others to follow them as they pursue a greater prize! These leaders will have a passion for what I call “unity with a purpose.” They will carry the kind of authority that comes from relational influence, not merely from title or position.

God wants leaders with a tenacious and resilient spirit.
The children of Israel lost the hope of their destination as they wandered in the desert, and they did not hold on through adversity. Like Caleb and Joshua, a persevering leader is a man or woman who will not let go of the vision of God even when faced with the reality of the giants. They will have the faith to say, “There’s reality in this circumstance, but my God is bigger than this! And if He promised me a destiny, I will not live my life according to what I see but based on what God said!”

3. Defeating Discouragement and Extortion
Whenever we begin to seek the well-being of God’s people and commit ourselves to doing His will, we are sure to encounter what I call “The Seven Oppositions of the Enemy,” which we find in the book of Nehemiah:

1. Ridicule and Mockery (Nehemiah 4:1)
2. Threat of Attack (Nehemiah 4:14-23)
3. Discouragement (Nehemiah 4:10)
4. Extortion (Nehemiah 5)
5. Compromise (Nehemiah 6:1-3)
6. Slander (Nehemiah 6:5-7)
7. Fear (Nehemiah 6:13-14)

Discouragement begins after consistent experiences of ridicule, mockery, and threats.
The enemy compounds our discouragement by using extortion to divide and to hinder corporate unity. He uses it to steal our joy, and when we lose our joy, we lose our strength. And he uses it to steal our resources so that we cannot accomplish what we believe God has called us to do. Discouragement and disappointment bring disillusionment, which then breeds compromise and distracts us from our intended destination or our destinies. We begin to respond with slander against those who oppose us, or we act in fear instead of faith.

When the enemy comes against us and begins to discourage us and extort from us, we must be leaders of a different spirit, like Joshua and Caleb. When the other 10 spies returned from the Promised Land with a bad report, Joshua and Caleb kept their focus of destination. “It’s true!” they said (paraphrased). “There are giants in the land. But we know our God is bigger than the giants!” We need more leaders like Joshua and Caleb who can look past the circumstances, past the giants, and hold on to the promises of a God who keeps His promises! As we focus on Him, He will restore our vision of hope, our vision of destination, and our vision of purpose!

Who Has Pre-Eminence? In the midst of our challenges, we often quote Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” But we seldom read on to verses 12 and13, “Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have done all our works in us. O Lord our God, masters besides You have had dominion over us…”

As leaders, we cannot allow anything other than God to control us. We cannot allow other passions besides our passion for Him to have dominion over us. I Corinthians 16:9 tells us, “Even as greater doors are opened, the adversaries are many.” But sometimes the adversaries are internal, not external. Sometimes we need to start with our own internal conflicts and ask ourselves the questions: What are the things that have dominion over me? What has hindered me from walking through the doors God has opened? Is it fear? Insecurity? Complacency? Apathy?

Scripture tells us Jesus has dominion over all these things. It is God’s intention for Him to have preeminence in our lives (Colossians 1:16, 18). When Jesus is preeminent in our hearts, our lives, and our thoughts, we have His God-given authority over all principalities and dominions. They no longer have dominion over us! But God doesn’t stop there – it is His intention, once we give Him preeminence, to use us to make known His manifold wisdom to those powers and authorities who once had dominion over us!

4. A Deeper Level of Relationship
The Kingdom of God is built on relationships. Our relationships define our destinies, and our level of influence is determined by the depth of relationship we have with God and with one another. My latest book Who’s Your Daddy Now? examines in detail how every problem we experience in our society and globally can be traced back to a broken relationship with a father. It is crucial that we examine our relationships and make sure we are properly aligned with our Heavenly Father and all those we are called to lead, to serve under, and to walk alongside.

Some people try to gain credibility by association, but authentic and lasting influence and authority – like inheritance – are the result of relationship. They are given and received, not taken. The same is true of our influence and authority in the Kingdom. The character of any kingdom emanates from the character of its king. We must have the character of our King to walk in His influence and His authority.

God is calling us all to a deeper level of relationship, with Himself and with those He has placed around us. He wants us to stand together against the opposition of the enemy. He wants us to encourage one another and validate one another. And as we keep our eyes on Him and begin to thank Him with an attitude of gratitude for being a God who keeps His promises, He will restore our vision of hope and our vision of destiny so that we can press on and finish well!


Doug Stringer is the founder and president of Turning Point Ministries International and Somebody Cares America/International. Doug speaks extensively to leaders around the globe on the topics of “Persevering Leaders” and “Transformational Leadership.” He can be reached at www.somebodycares.org
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