Charles Spurgeon on Leadership (4): Seven Lessons on the Minister’s Calling

A Christian leader must first be led by God before he can lead oth­ers. The principal foundation of leadership is our life of faith, based on our personal relationship to Jesus Christ. “Brethren, you are not meant for anything but God; therefore, surrender yourselves to God, and find in Him your wealth, your honour, and your all.”

An ounce of personal testimony is worth more than a ton of heavy theology. Spurgeon’s spiritual conversion was so profound that it be­came the primary motivation of his life as a Christian leader. From that time, his commitment was to witness to the salvation he experienced, that others might be brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

A good leader is true to his theological convictions. Spurgeon’s will­ingness to part company with his family over the issue of baptism as a teenager was indicative of the manner in which he always approached matters of faith. If he were convinced that something was correct ac­cording to the Scriptures, Spurgeon was willing to stand alone against those who differed with him. The pain of the “Downgrade Controversy” is a clear example.

A leader’s effectiveness stems directly from one’s spiritual com­mitment. Spurgeon was convinced that the nature of a leader’s own faith commitment determines his effectiveness in ministry. “True and genu­ine piety is necessary as the first indispensable requisite; whatever ‘call’ a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to the ministry.”

Leaders persevere. Spurgeon believed that Christian leaders should persevere in their calling. He decried those who left the ministry for other pursuits: “For us to turn aside from our life-work, and to seek distinction elsewhere, is absolute folly; a blight will be upon us, we shall not suc­ceed in anything but the pursuit of God’s glory.”

A leader will not take you farther than he’s gone himself. Spurgeon believed that continued spiritual development is essential for increased effectiveness in leadership. “Let this be the burning passion of your souls. Grow to be leaders and champions.”

Spiritual growth is the measure of a leader’s continued impact on his followers. Spurgeon demonstrated his commitment to spiritual growth as a leader in four specific areas-by being prayer empowered, faith filled, Spirit led, and servant driven. “Be sure that you are with God, and then you may be sure that God is with you.”

Charles Spurgeon on Leadership (3): Seven Observations about Context

1. To understand a leader’s influence; one must evaluate him in the context of his ministry. Although Spurgeon was very successful in his day and time, one must set him and all other leaders within their context to understand their specific impact.

2. A leader cannot be separated from the background, environment, culture, and other multiple outside influences that contribute to his development as a person. Every leader is as much a product of the composite of forces and factors that helped to shape and inform his life as he is an influence on the lives of others.

3. The social, economic, and cultural aspects of a society influence the extent of a leader’s success. Spurgeon described himself as a “capital man,” a product of the scene in metropolitan London in the midst of a most conservative Victorian society. At the same time, his position of privilege stirred him to meet the needs of those less fortunate than himself. He took very seriously James 1:27.

4. A leader’s vision is expanded through exposure to all of the needs of his surrounding environment. When Spurgeon first entered Lon­don, his encounter with the cholera epidemic provided the ur­gency for his evangelistic ministry. He did not shudder from his responsibility but shouldered more than his share in risking his own per­sonal health to minister to the sick and dying.

5. The general state of society and the material conditions of the time help us to understand to some extent why Spurgeon attracted such widespread attention. His style and approach to ministry were unique for his time because many of his peers were more reserved and predict­able in their office. Spurgeon’s aggressive approach to evangelism and ministry provided a platform for his widening influence.

6. A leader helps society by helping individuals. Spurgeon and various other religious leaders sought to advance numerous forms of individual philanthropy. Their belief was that society would benefit as a result of their helping individuals. Therefore, they instituted orphanages, almshouses, and other ministries to meet the social ills of their time.

7. Many spiritual leadership principles are timeless, regardless of social and cultural context. The enduring standard of Spurgeon’s lead­ership continues to this day because its basis was directly related to Spurgeon’s understanding of and obedience to the Word of God as applied to his life and ministry.

Charles Spurgeon on Leadership (2): Nine Observations about Confidence

1. The Christian leader has an innate confidence that springs from knowing that he/she is in the center of God’s will. Spurgeon recog­nized that infinite source of confidence at an early age and persistently pursued God’s will. He was absolutely convinced as we should, is “all that matters in life is that you please God.”

2. The best exercise of faith is one’s complete trust and confidence in God. Spurgeon urged his people, “It is essential that we should exhibit faith in the form of confidence in God.”

3. Leaders who trust in themselves display incredible ignorance about the source of true power. Spurgeon believed that one could not be used of God until self-confidence was depleted: “Our Heavenly Father does not usually cause us to seek the, Savior till He has whipped us clean out of all our confidence.”

4. The proper attitude/perspective is imperative for leaders to pursue their calling with confidence. The degree to which a leader embodies a positive attitude wed to trust in God’s providence may go a long way in determining one’s effectiveness.

5. A leader who has confidence in God is empowered to take self initiative in his ministry. “Be diligent in action. Put all your irons into the fire. Use every faculty for Jesus. Be wide-awake to watch opportunities, and quick to seize upon them.”

6. Leaders should be careful not to compare themselves with other leaders. “Let us not judge ourselves by others. . . . Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow-servants; then pride will be impossible, but hopefulness will be natural.”

7. The balance between confidence and humility enables a leader to exercise his/her gifts responsibly. “The proper recognition of the EGO is a theme worthy of our attention . . . the humble, responsible, and hon­est selfhood . . . resolves to be at the Divine bidding, and to be at its best, to the glory of God.”

8. The humble leader recognizes his weaknesses and strengths. “It is admirable to see a man humbly conscious of his own weakness, and yet bravely confident in the Lord’s power to work through his infirmity.”

9. Confidence, tempered by humility, seeks to bring all glory to God. “There is a confidence in one’s own powers which . . . is well-grounded, seasoned with humility, and attended with that holy gratitude which re­fers all honor and glory to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.”