Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8
During the Civil War, the Union Army had suffered a major defeat at Bull Run and President Lincoln sought a new general for his demoralized troops. In 1861, he appointed George B. McClellan, known as the “Young Napoleon,” who was second in his class at West Point, had served in the Mexican-American War and in the Crimean War with distinction, and had a particular knack for organization and recruitment. His men loved him and he quickly grew the ranks of the new Army of the Patomac from 50,000 to 168,000, outnumbering their enemy nearly two to one, and training his troops to a level of organization and precision that had never been seen before. There was only one problem: the man wouldn’t fight.
For weeks McClellan readied his position, organized, and strategized while Lee’s army lay dangerously exposed just a few miles away. Lincoln continuously urged McClellan to attack while they had the advantage but he wouldn’t. After a painful year of inactivity, Lincoln removed McClellan and replaced him with a man with half the training and tactical talent, but who would have picked a fight with a beehive: Ulysses S. Grant.
We have plenty of Christian leaders in America with great seminary educations, powerful theological minds, and creative ministry ideas but for all of our resources and brilliance, we are losing this nation. Few are the leaders willing to do the hard things, to make disciples, to preach biblical truth to a culture that resists it, to be willing to endure persecution, and to passionately pursue Jesus in the midst of endless distractions. If General McClellan were a Christian leader in America today, he may have preached wonderful sermons and had a well-organized church, but his city would be no different for it.
Christian leaders are to lead with zeal, with great passion and enthusiasm for the mission that God has given them. And this kind of leadership is a gift from the Holy Spirit, empowered by Him, and dependent upon Him. Consider Paul, who wrote this verse, a man willing to preach to gentiles and Jews alike, to rebuke those who opposed him and led his churches astray, even opposing Peter to his face, and to suffer persecution and hardships that we may never see in America. Paul was a man who led with a zeal seldom seen today in our nation. Imagine if all Christian leaders led with such zeal. It’s the zealous leaders we read books about, who led revivals, who changed the course of nations. Our Christian leadership is incomplete without the zeal that the Holy Spirit brings. May we be leaders who lead with zeal, that Christ may be glorified.
Heavenly Father, let the leaders of the church here in America be filled with the Holy Spirit and with the zeal He brings. Let Your zeal consume us and the love of Christ compel us to preach the Gospel and love others in Jesus’ name. Cause weak-willed leaders to repent and give them renewed passion to serve You. Help us never to compromise the truth of Your Word but rather to be strong in order to face opposition. In Jesus’ name we ask, Amen.
Ministry Fellow, Christian Union Nova
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