I recently read a familiar text in the book of Romans that speaks to the process whereby individuals are given an opportunity to respond to God’s initiative through the means of human communication.
“But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Ro 10:14-15 NRSV)
There is an obvious sequence that Paul highlights here. In the past, I’ve thought of it specifically in terms of evangelism (which it does, of course), but I find it a helpful process to consider in sharing divine truth in any form. When it comes to spiritual leadership, here’s how I envision this process:
- Sent – Spiritual leaders have a deep sense of being authorized and led by God in what they say and do. To use Jesus’s language in John 15:16, we didn’t choose Jesus, but he chose us and appointed us to bear lasting fruit.
- Proclaim – Spiritual leaders speak God-given words for the good and blessing of God’s people. Like Jesus, we do not speak on our own, but we speak what the Father gives us to say (Jn 12:49).
- Hear – One of the great needs that God’s people have is simply to listen. We live in such a noisy world, but that receptive and responsive mode is key.
- Believe/Trust – Hearing what God says does us little good if we do not trust what God has said and entrust ourselves to this God Who speaks.
- Call on – Having listened and trusted, we must respond. We call on God. We seek God for our life, our relationships, our work.
- When you look at this spiritual leadership process, which of the steps most speaks to where you find yourself?
- Do you have a sense of being sent to speak something true, good and helpful to another?
- Do you sense a word coming your way to which you must listen, trust and respond?