147 – Leading in Crisis: Spirit-Empowered Leadership

147 – Leading in Crisis: Spirit-Empowered Leadership

If God has positioned you as a spiritual leader, he will also empower you to serve and lead. In this episode we are going to talk about the mantle and anointing that comes with God’s call and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to lead in times of uncertainty.

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This episode, particularly the last 20 minutes, was inspired by a journal entry on March 17 as we prayed for spiritual leaders. Leading in a time of crisis, such as the one we are in with the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, requires spirit-empowered leadership. In the last 20 minutes of the podcast, and in the second half of the notes, we talk about a 7-fold empowerment that comes with the mantle of leadership.

When I was a young pastor I struggled a lot with whether or not my decisions were the right decisions. As a lead pastor I was in a position of making lot of decisions, and while I had advisors, counselors, and mentors, I often had to just pull the trigger and make a decision about important things. …

I tend to suffer from analysis paralysis, so decision making is admittedly not my favorite thing. It wasn’t that I didn’t like making decisions, or was afraid to make a decision, my hesitancy was out of my desire to lead well and not mess things up for other people because I made a wrong or bad decision. 
Some reasons I was hesitant in decision-making.

  • Win/Win scenarios: making decisions when we win either way is easy. 
  • Win/Lose scenarios: It’s a little harder when our decisions seem to cause some people “win” and others to feel they “lose.” 
  • Lose/Lose scenarios: making a decision when you don’t like any of the options, but you know you have to lead. 

Here’s some things I’ve learned about decision-making.

  • As a leader, it’s not about what I want, but what I perceive is the right thing to do. 
  • I am not leading a democracy, I am serving as an agent in a Theocracy. In other words, for a spiritual leader its not about majority rule, it is about God rule. When a church or ministry organization holds and election or casts a ballot it is never about the will of the people, it is about the people coming to unity on the will of God. 
  • Hard decisions do NOT go away — ever! They only get tougher the longer you delay them. 

Decision-making and leadership are inseparable. 

I have longer lists, and perhaps we will do another episode on decision-making, but this episode is more connected to the things going on around us right now. If you listen to this episode in the future, we are in the middle of the Coronavirus, Covid-19 restrictions. 

Churches cannot gather, shops and stores are closed, the stock market is insanely fluctuating. 
How do we lead in times of crisis when we are walking a path we’ve never walked before. 

You can’t draw from previous experience. Information changes almost daily. We don’t know when this will end. We are learning how to stay relationally connected while physically distancing. 

NEXT WEEK, Episode 148 – Leading in Times of Crisis. (We will be live streaming on Tuesday and posting the episode on Thursday.)

Back to when I was a young pastor… I remember sitting in my church office, 30 years old, leading a church that was bigger than my leadership experience would sustain and the church was starting to unravel because of an interpersonal conflict involving a couple of families in the church with many other starting to take sides. 

I did not know what to do, I had gotten all the advice I could get, and it came down to making some hard decisions. 
As I sat there and prayed asking God for wisdom, I received an assurance from the Lord that I would make the right decision. In fact, I gained the confidence that day that when God calls us to do something, and we ask for wisdom to do it, he will give us the wisdom we need if we seek it. 

‘If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. ‘ James 1:5 (ESV)

This statement could be misunderstood, but I came to believe that I would always make the right decision. That does not mean I am infallible, it does not mean that I don’t make mistakes, it does not mean that I will never make a bad call, but I had to have confidence in myself to make the right decisions, but mostly I had to have confidence in God to give me the wisdom to lead in very difficult situations. 

The only decision worse than a bad decision is deciding to make no decision at all. 

When it’s time to lead, when it’s time to steer, when you have to make a  decision, seek God’s help, surround yourself with the best counselors you can, access the best information you can access, and then make a decision and stand in that decision. 

I must TRUST God to give me the wisdom I have to have to lead. 

You see, I believe there is a mantle and an anointing that comes with spiritual leadership. 

As I was praying for pastors and leaders as we were moving into our new reality, this word came to me. God will give wisdom to those who are tasked with leading during this time. There is an empowerment of the Holy Spirit that comes with God’s assignments. 

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,”
Isaiah 11:1-3 ESV

Some commentators say it is a stretch to identify 7 facets of the but I am embolden by my Keil-Delitzch commentaries who agree. 

Isaiah 11 foretells the coming of The Christ, and that He would be empowered by the 7-fold Spirit of God. I believe for the enablement of God to do what he has called us to do, and I pray for the 7-fold Spirit of God to empower us, rest upon our lives, and I pray for the 7-fold Spirit of God to rest upon spiritual leaders in these challenging days. 
Here are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit characterized by the 7-fold Spirit of God that empowers us to lead in the context of our calling. 

  1. The Spirit of the Lord
  2. The Spirit of Wisdom
  3. The Spirit of Understanding
  4. The Spirit of Counsel
  5. The Spirit of Might (Power)
  6. The Spirit of Knowledge
  7. The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

The 7 fold Spirit of God is seen in John’s revelation in the Book of Revelation, “From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,…” Revelation 4:5 (ESV)


(1) The Spirit of the Lord. It was said of Jesus, in Him dwells the fullness of the God-head in bodily form. The Spirit of the Lord represents the fullness of God’s ability. 
The remaining 6 are in 3 pairs. 

  1. The intellectual: wisdom and understanding
  2. The practical: counsel and might
  3. The spiritual: knowledge and the fear of the Lord

The Intellectual Empowerment

(2) The Spirit of Wisdom. If we lack or desire wisdom, let us ask (James 1:5).  Wisdom is the power of discerning nature of things through the appearance (Keil-Delitzsch). Wisdom is rightly applying knowledge and understanding.

(3) The Spirit of Understanding. Understanding is the power of discerning the differences of things in their appearance (Keil-Delitzsch). Understanding is being able to intuitively perceive the factors involved in a decision. 

The Practical Empowerment

(4) The Spirit of Counsel. The Holy Spirit is our Counselor. Counsel is a gift for forming right conclusions. It is not just the giving of advice, but as it is applied to our leadership, it is the receiving of advice from God and counselors he has placed in our lives. I am sometimes amazed how an “in season word” or revelation comes to me just when I need it. 

(5) The Spirit of Might. This is the ability to carry out God’s directives with energy and empowerment. Standing like a mighty warrior, not simply in our own power but in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Might gives us the power we need to fulfill His calling upon our lives. 

The Spiritual Empowerment

(6) The Spirit of Knowledge. The Holy Spirit gives knowledge and insight. God is omniscient, he knows all things. The Holy Spirit guides us in our learning so that when the moment of crisis or testing comes we have a bank of pre-obtained knowledge from which to apply with wisdom. I also believe that God gives revelatory knowledge. Sometimes we just supernaturally know things. Matthew 10 speaks of God giving us words to say when we are persecuted and faced with immediate crisis, not having time to prepare beforehand. 

“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew [10:19]-20 (ESV)

(7) The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord. This is the foundation of trust and fearing God, who can destroy soul and spirit rather than those who can only destroy the body. The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord directs us to make decisions and to lead based upon the desires of God and not our own. 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” Psalm 1[11:10] (ESV)

Isaiah prophecies the coming of Messiah and the Spirit of the Lord that would rest upon Him, empower Him, equip Him, guide him, and make him effective. 

I pray that the same Holy Spirit empower and equip spiritual leaders in this challenging time that they would know what to do and how to do it. 

I pray for the wisdom to keep the days ahead in perspective. 

I pray you experience the Holy Spirit working in your life as…

  1. The Spirit of the Lord
  2. The Spirit of Wisdom
  3. The Spirit of Understanding
  4. The Spirit of Counsel
  5. The Spirit of Might (Power)
  6. The Spirit of Knowledge
  7. The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

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143 – Sacrifice: How Do You Know When it’s Not Enough?

How do you know when you aren’t sacrificing enough? In last week’s episode we discussed how to know when we are sacrificing too much out of the wrong motivation, and this week we look at the other side of the coin.

Last week we talked about how we know when a sacrifice is TOO great. 

  • The sacrifice will be commensurate with the vision or hope. 
  • The sacrifice is too great if the desired outcome is not worthy of the cost. 
  • Sacrifice is a personal choice between you and God… it is a heart matter. 

Today, as we continue this topic, we are discussing how you know if our sacrifice just is not great enough… touchy topic!

Continue Reading for the Article…

142 – Sacrifice

Life is simply full of sacrifices. As a matter of normal course, we often give up something we care about or love to gain something we care about or love more. Sacrifice embraces change and transition as we let go of important things to gain more important things. 

Sacrifice: How Do You Know When it is Too Much?

My friend sends a daily devotional to his friends. It always starts with a quote, and I regularly “steal” the quote. I had no intention of doing a podcast on sacrifice this morning, I had 12 other topics I was working with, but this quote caused me to start writing in my journal, and realizing that instead of taking the time to write something else, we just need to go with this topic. It is in our hearts, so this is what we will discuss. Here’s the quote: 

“If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ.” 

Nate Saint

We all have made many sacrifices throughout our lives, letting go of important things to gain or accomplish things of greater value. As it regards our journey to Africa, we know it is and will be a sacrifice, but here’s the amazing thing about it: It does not feel like a sacrifice, it feels like a joyful privilege — because it is. 

As you consider the sacrifices you are called upon to make, here are a few questions we’ve considered throughout our life, and this journey in weighing out the costs and the joys. 

How do you know when the sacrifice is TOO great?

We mustn’t be motivated by asceticism. Asceticism is severe self-discipline, cutting ourselves off from enjoying anything in religious devotion. Asceticism is “earning” God’s favor by punishing ourselves. God is not punishing us when he gives us an invitation to participate in something wonderful and fulfilling. 

I admit that as I continue to understand “taking up our cross,” “denying self,” etc., I may Lose perspective and take on a tinge of asceticism, but when I see that happening I know I am missing the point. We GIVE our lives that we may truly GAIN our lives. We take up the “cross” of Christ that we may experience the true joys that are only available through the abundant life that Christ gives to us. 

We have much to say about this as it continues to unfold in our own lives, but we TRUST God that the difficulties, trials, and challenges we face on this journey are working a far greater good in our lives and in the world… and that it is worth it—above and beyond!

How do you know when the sacrifice is too great? Here are some thoughts:

The sacrifice will usually be commensurate with the vision or the hope.

The sacrifice (not as a rule, but as an evaluator) will usually be commensurate with the vision or the hope. I would give my life for my children to keep theirs. I would not give my life for the family dog (some people would, me, no.). I assign value in a certain way and the way I assign value determines what I am willing to sacrifice. Some would not make a sacrifice for the mission of God because they do not believe it right to share Christ in other cultural contexts. 

The Sacrifice is too great if the desired outcome is not valuable enough to warrant the cost.

The sacrifice is too great if the desired outcome is not valuable enough to warrant the cost. If our sacrifice takes us out of the game forever, then it is to be very carefully considered. In baseball, a sacrifice is when a player bunts the ball assuring their own “out” in order to put another player into scoring position. In this case “out” is temporary, it costs the team one of their “outs” for the inning, but it increases the likelihood of the true goal, scoring. The goal in a baseball game is putting runners across home plate and putting numbers on the scoreboard. So, how do you know when the sacrifice is too great, hard to say, but in a baseball game it would be clear to me that getting tagged out in order to position your team to score: worth it. Sustaining a life changing injury that will end your career in order to position your team to win: NOT worth it

Think about it. 

The extent of the sacrifice must be a personal decision/choice.

Sacrifice is a personal choice. I chose to never sacrifice the health or well-being of my family for the church or ministry, or to placate a dysfunctional member. We did choose many times to choose obediently following what we felt to be the will and pleasure of God over financial gain, financial security, and many of the material things we would have liked. It has been a lifelong lifestyle choice.  And here’s the thing… we trust God to know the better way for us, better than the way we would make for our selves through our own choices. My observation: I’ve never been disappointed. Totally worth it. 

No one can decide for you what you should or shouldn’t sacrifice. You have to decide, because it will be you who pays the price. 
By the way, I’ve been in toxic environments where church leaders wanted to decide for you what you were going to sacrifice. I’ve seen the damage that comes from such toxic leadership. 

For us, transitioning our lives and our family to go to Africa is a sacrifice, but it is a joyful sacrifice. Funny thing about joyful sacrifices, they feel more like a joyful privilege than they do a sacrifice. Wow, we GET to do this and we are so honored… See, that’s the heart that should accompany the sacrifices, and sometimes we have to grow into a place where we open our hearts and our hands a little wider, we see more clearly the vision and the heart of God, and we offer to God that which does joyfully cost us much.

 Finally… (For Part One)… 

For our commitments and our sacrifices to produce the desired results while producing joy in our lives, we have to grow toward those sacrifices. It’s not something pushed, cajoled, or guilted out of us. 
Our sacrifices are an investment toward a vision, a desired outcome, a mission. As we walk in the grace of God, only out of that relationship can you come to answer the question of what you are to give, to sacrifice, and evaluate the costs you are willing to pay for the things important to you. 
Sacrifice always begins with the sacrifice of self. Letting go of our agenda and embracing the agenda of God. He prepares us step by step. 
At the beginning of my journey I was not where I am now. I am capable of embracing things I could not have just a few years ago… and, I have the hope that in the future we will be prepared for new things and new adventures, we will be ready to take on greater challenges, because we’ve been prepared. 

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140 – Reckless

Today’s topic is a little controversial, even to me, but we think it is on target. It’s foolish to do something negotiable without counting the cost. It is foolish to NOT do something non-negotiable whether you have counted the cost or not. This is recklessness. I have decided, I need to live life with more recklessness. 

At the end of the podcast we give a little more than usual update for CalibrateMission Africa for those who are a part of this community.

Listen to the Podcast Episode:

I was a mild-mannered, shy kid. When we played Batman and Robin, I wanted to be Robin, less responsibility and decision making. I’ve always been more of a Scotty than a Captain Kirk. I like to please people, I value too much the applause of people. Those are the devils in my closet, that is the wiring I must overcome, and I know it. 

Continue to read the rest of the article and notes…

138 – How to Recharge, Re-fire, and Replenish When You Are Drained

We can feel drained, rested, or energized in each of our four capacities: physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual. In this episode we discuss how to refresh, re-fire, and replenish those four capacities and how to stay full of life and energy. 

This is a podcast, so there is more content in the audio than in the notes. 

We have a body, a soul, and a spirit, it is our tripartite nature. We can be filled up and energized, or we can feel drained and depleted in each of these four areas: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical.

Continue for the Article and Episode Notes… (More)

135 – Standing in Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual warfare is a real. Often, life’s obstacles come from our stupid choices or uninformed decisions, but if you are attempting obedience, if you are attempting to follow a bold God-path, if you yield yourself to be a part of the solution to some of the problems of this world — you are going to face a dark spiritual opposition. Count on it. 

Continue to Read the Episode Notes and Article…