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.”

Spurgeon on Leadership (9): Nine Lessons on Creativity

1. A creative God calls creative leaders to exercise creativity in their work for His kingdom. Spurgeon believed fully in infinite possibili­ties and used all of his creative energies to communicate the gospel.

2. The message of the gospel does not change, but the manner of its presentation may be adapted according to the situation. Spurgeon said, “I am not very scrupulous about the means I use for doing good. I would preach standing on my head, if I thought I could convert your souls.”

3. A leader is not obligated to observe conventions simply as a mat­ter of compliance. They should be retained only if the cause merits it. Spurgeon thought that conventions, if they stood in the way of kingdom progress, were a sin.

4. A leader’s personal distinctions should be determined by their align­ment with his goals for the organization. Spurgeon pursued many innovative methods because he believed them to be essential to spread­ing the gospel.

5. A leader can be as creative as possible as long as it doesn’t com­promise the message of the gospel. Spurgeon would go to any length to communicate the gospel to his hearers, whether it was throwing tracts from train windows or advertising his services through secular media.

6. A leader should check his motivation regarding the effect that he seeks to create through his particular style of ministry. Spurgeon’s aim was to bring glory to God, not to attract people to himself.

7. A leader’s creativity should be a reflection of his own gifts and abili­ties. Spurgeon’s ministry with innovative applications was a fulfillment of the faithful and creative application of his spiritual gifts.

8. Being creative can be risky business for some unsuspecting lead­ers. Spurgeon was savvy enough to employ innovations that were bol­stered by his popular support, not trite or trivial, and consistent with the principles of Scripture.

9. Leaders who are discoverers and innovators are worthy of honor. Spurgeon, speaking of missionary founder William Carey, stated: “All God’s true servants were innovators. Those that turned the world upside down were the very descendants of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Spurgeon on Leadership (8): Nine Lessons on Commitment and the Family

1. The leader who prioritizes a commitment to his family honors the God whom he serves. Spurgeon gave great attention and devotion to his family, as evidenced by their testimonies in his Autobiography. His wife and sons grew to love and serve the Lord under his influence.

2. A godly heritage is great gain for the Christian leader. Spurgeon was blessed to have been born into and reared by a family that instilled in him Christian virtues and a love for the things of God.

3. A leader who shares his leadership with family can receive a tre­mendous blessing. Spurgeon’s brother James became an integral part of his ministry as an associate pastor, relieving his brother of many of the pastoral burdens that could be safely entrusted to him.

4. Christian pastors who partner with their spouses can enjoy ministry opportunities together. Spurgeon’s wife Susannah, although unwell for much of her adult life, initiated ministries that gave her much personal fulfillment and complemented the pastoral ministry of her husband.

5. A Christian leader seeks to mentor his children in the faith. Spurgeon savored every opportunity to influence his sons for good, as is evident in an excerpt from a letter to Charles: “I am full of hope about you…. I believe you love the Lord, and that is the main thing; the next is, stick to it…. The times are so pushing that you must put out all your energies; and, above all, you must be careful, and very persevering; and then, with God’s blessing, you will soon take a position to which your father and mother can point with pleasure.”

6. A leader should be the same person at home that he is with the public. “It is not sufficient for us to maintain our public reputation among our fellow-creatures, for our God … notices our coldness in the closet of communion, and he perceives our faults and failures in the family.”

7. The leader should set the example of devotion and prayer in the home. “He prays as a husband and as a father; he strives to make his family devotions a model for his flock…”

8. Christian leaders should seek to lead their children to faith in Christ. “If we do not try our best to bring our children to Christ, there is another who will do his worst to drag them down to hell.”

9. A leader’s fatherly influence extends beyond his home to those under his leadership. “Be to your people like a father among his chil­dren . . . that you may be the means of blessing to them, and at the same time meet the evil of disintegration.”