Life Skills Mentoring Helps

Five Leadership Principles from Paul

Some guys are born with leadership in their DNA. Years ago, I was co-leading a group of high school guys on a weekend camping trip. Twelve young men ages 14-18; some outgoing after a few years on the church’s high school leadership team, others newbies. When Nolan crashed his bike breaking his collarbone, one young freshman, Caleb emerged as a very insightful leader. My dad is an ER doctor. Let me facetime him.  Here we are 2 hours away and getting some medical direction via a 14-year-old who had enough insight to link us up with help!  To this day, Caleb, now in university, continues to lead with integrity and godliness.

Some leaders are what I call entrepreneurial. Their visionary leadership excites the crowd and rallies the troops. Other leaders are what I call implementers. They take the vision someone else came up with and help it become a reality. That’s me. Sure, I have the occasional light bulb idea that actually amounts to something, but my niche of fleshing out the vision is needed as much as the guy with the big ideas.

Paul was obviously a leader of the early Christian church. Through a very dramatic conversion from being the most zealous Jesus-hater to the most influential lover of Jesus, we see God use Paul to make his impact not only on the early church but on our lives today. In writing to the Christians in Corinth (Greece), he gives us at least five biblical principles that we can practice. 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15 outlines them:

1. There is a difference between Spirit-based leaders and Soulish ones.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV.

It doesn’t matter if you are a leader in a church, campus ministry group or on your neighborhood HOA. Regardless where, leaders will either be cognizant of the Holy Spirit and want Him to influence matters, or be totally into self, with little to no regard for God. Stories are told of church elder boards led out of a human-centric viewpoint, with little regard for what God has to say. Sure, there was the token prayer to start the meeting, but Jesus is quickly forgotten. The question you must ask yourself is, Am I a man who desires beyond all else to see the Spirit lead and influence through me?  Or am I more interested in my own agenda? How you answer that speaks volumes to which kind of leader you are.

2. Division is evidence of a soulish (natural) leader. Unity is the focus of a Spirit-led leader.

1. But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2, I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 ESV

I have my favorite leaders. So do you. I like certain preachers until they let me down. Until they disappoint me. Paul and Apollos were fallible men. Imperfect. Following a flawed leader isn’t the issue as much as it is making them the center of your life.  Jesus is to be our center. I may believe in Jesus, but if my focus is more on a human leader than my relationship with Him, I reveal I am but flesh; that my maturity as a Christ-follower is weak at best. To be a leader who increases in Spirit-empowered leadership will find himself promoting Christ above mere man and being a catalyst for unity. Not compromise unity.  The question you must ask yourself is: Am I a divider or a unifier? You can be as religious as you want and be a soul-ish divider. Or you can be a quiet, Spirit-led leader and experience tremendous oneness because your agenda is not yourself, it’s Jesus.

3. Every believer has a Unique Kingdom Voice

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 ESV

Here’s the deal, God created you with the personality, talents, skills you have for the benefit of the Kingdom. He’s called you to work in oneness with other believers for the same cause. A healthy leader will set aside his own ego and with humility will recognize we each have a part to play. As we do our part, God causes the growth. The question you must ask yourself is Is leadership about me or about the greater work of God?

4. God makes things grow, not me.

 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 ESV

Sooner or later,  I see changes in the young men I mentor.  Attitudes mostly. Behaviors follow. His thinking about various hot topics change. Less narcissistic, more selfless. These are not because of me. God is the one changing the young man! I couldn’t be more excited when I see such changes! Such maturing! This has to be a God-thing for sure!  It’s as if I am watching live, God at work! A Spirit-led leader will recognize that God is the one who changes lives. If I think it’s my job to change anyone, my ego quickly gets in the way. Question: Who have you seen God change recently?

5. Jesus is the only true foundation

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ESV

One of the scariest times is when I lie in bed after a long day at work or mentoring warriors, reflecting on all that happened, wondering if I laid a foundation that is other than Jesus Christ. Meaning, were my efforts cheap imitations of a real walk with God? Was I infusing more of myself into others instead of leading them to a deeper walk with Jesus? Nothing, absolutely nothing is surer in life than Jesus Christ. To be a leader that builds upon the foundation of Jesus will find great rewards in eternity.  There are guys who lead, but what they do is fake. It has little to do with growing in Christ and more to do with making a name for themselves. You must ask: Am I a man building on the foundation of Jesus Christ or to my own fame?

You may or may not have some leadership title. You might not even consider yourself a leader. The truth is God has called you to be a person of influence, for the Kingdom, where you are. Right now. Are you? Part of becoming a leader is following well. With eyes on Jesus, He will help you develop your unique Kingdom voice.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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