Leadership: Lonely & Painful
Spiritual leadership can be lonely. Those who risk all find a road marked with incredible pain and suffering. There are days when you simply want to give up. You think to yourself, “It can’t be worth it.” You invest in others, and it seems that no one cares. You feel you are the only one that remains faithful. YOU are all alone. [Don’t tell me you have not had these thoughts.]
The truth is, we have been promised pain and suffering. We know that the road will be marked with pain. Our God has been completely honest with what is in store. In John 16:33 our Lord tells us, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world [ESV].”
First of all, let me point out that there is nothing wrong with lonely feelings or the heartfelt agony of being in pain – emotionally or physically. It is perfectly human and normal to know and feel this. In fact, embrace the pain and allow the loneliness to find its rest in the person of Christ.
Secondly, you are not alone and you do not have the corner on the market of faithfulness. Christ told His disciples – the ones who would lead the pioneering work of establishing the church – that he would never leave them nor forsake them. And it is no less true for the Christian leader today. The Bible gives examples of leaders who knew deep, heartfelt pain and loneliness. Elijah – a prophet of God – knew overwhelming despair after his defeat of the wicked prophets of Bale and subsequent fleeing from wicked Queen Jezebel [2Kinds 18&19]. So much so, that he even despaired of life. Paul – an apostle – spoke of a time in which he and his fellow laborers were so utterly burdened beyond strength that they despaired of life [2Cor. 1:8-11].
These men and women felt the heavy burden and difficulty of spiritual leadership. It was hard. Many times they felt they could not go on. But to endure, we must fix our eyes, as they did, on the prize of Christ [Phil 3:12:20, Ps.57:7], and we must lead others to do the same. We must daily remember to…
1. Know the promises of God [2Cor. 1:20]
3. Grow in the knowledge of God [Phil. 1:9-14]
4. Confess the sin of self-pity & pride [1John 1:9&10]
5. Remember God’s abundant grace & forgiveness [Ps. 136:1, Eph.2:8&9]
2. Focus on the mission at hand – the great commission [Mt28]
1. For the sake of the Gospel [Col. 1:23]
2. For the glory of our God [Heb. 13:20&21]
So, we will “take heart”. God has won the victory. We press on knowing that the battles we engage in are but skirmishes in a war that has already been decided. We know pain and loneliness so that we may know the triumph and glory of our risen King [Phil. 3:10].