Spurgeon on Leadership (10): Nine Lessons on Compassion

1. Effective leaders balance “strong convictions” with a loving spirit. Although he was tough in personal discipline, Spurgeon was sensitive when it came to his pastoral role with people. He wrote, “With all his maturity and firmness, the spiritual father is full of tenderness, and mani­fests an intense love for the souls of men.”

2. A leader who is committed to providing leadership that will include the best qualities of Christianity will demonstrate sensitive com­passion in the process. Spurgeon exhorted, “If we would save our hear­ers from the wrath to come, we must realize that they are our brothers. We must have sympathy with them, and anxiety about them; in a word, passion and compassion. May God grant these to us!”

3. The Christian leader who ministers effectively to his followers un­derstands that pastoral care has to be a priority. Spurgeon chal­lenged ministers, “Take care to be on most familiar terms with those whose souls are committed to your care. Stand in the stream and fish. Many preachers are utterly ignorant as to how the bulk of people are living; they are at home among books, but quite at sea among men.”

4. Spurgeon believed that leaders must first be servants. When they became servants, it placed them in a position from which they could lead. “Let us remember that we are the servants in our Lord’s house. `Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.’ Let us be willing to be door-mats at our Master’s entrance-hall. Let us not seek honor for ourselves, but put honor upon the weaker vessels by our care for them.”

5. A Christian leader must have redemptive concern for his followers. Spurgeon wrote, “If we be in Christ’s stead, we shall not bully, but ten­derly persuade. We shall have true sympathy, and so we shall plead with sinners unto tears, as though their ruin were our woe, and their salvation would be our bliss.”

6. A redemptive leader is characterized by “unconditional love.” Spurgeon loved his people and ensured that they knew he loved and cared for them. When instructing other ministers, he wrote, “Brethren, let us heartily love all whom Jesus loves.”

7. A leader shows real compassion by offering care and consolation to his followers. Spurgeon counseled ministers, “Cherish the tried and suffering. Visit the fatherless and the widow. Care for the faint and the feeble. Bear with the melancholy and despondent. Be mindful of all parts of the household, and thus shall you be a good shepherd.”

8. Christian leaders maintain and promote diligently the dignity and worth of each individual. “We must love sinners for Christ’s sake…The fallen, the frivolous, the captious, the indifferent, and even the malicious must share our love. We must love them to Jesus.”

The greatest compassion that a Christian leader can show is a passion to lead someone to Christ. To Spurgeon, that was the greatest goal: “If we have great love to Jesus, and great compassion for perishing men, we shall not be puffed up with large success; but we shall sigh and cry over the thousands who are not converted.”

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  2. dr. james willingham   •  

    Perhaps the greatest examples of compassion on the part of Spurgeon that I came across in his devotional work, Morning and Evening, would be his prayers for the conversion of the whole earth. The first is found in the Evening devotion for August 6th, and then again for the Evening devotion for Dec. 24th. There we find a five point Calvinist praying for every soul on earth. His example encouraged me to do likewise, his example along with Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt, fuller’s Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, and the wisest man I ever met, a layman from Eastern Kentucky, who once asked me this question: “Have you ever thought about the fact that at any one time, every last soul on the face of the earth could be the elect of God?” At the time I could only say no. Some years later, my views, extended by more knowledge of the First and Second Great Awakenings, came to include a prayer for every soul in a thousand generations on this island earth and upon a million billion planets for the next 20,000-900,000 years.

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