by Chip Hinds

When you consider your leadership, do you think of it as a vocation, a science, a skill anyone can acquire or as something that some just happen to be gifted to do, and others without that special gifting have no hope of attaining?

Neither picture is truly accurate. It is like being a theologian. One way or another, everyone’s a theologian. The atheist contends there is no god and hence establishes his theology. Another person contends one cannot know if there is a god and owns the consequences of his theology. The observant person recognizes the existence of a god or gods and searches for truth until God reveals himself. That person would likely contend the prevailing grace of God has created in every human a hunger to know him and hence their understanding of God’s revelation is truly a work of God in itself (John 12:32; Romans 5:8; John 6:44; Song of Solomon 1:4; Hosea 11:4; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:9).

Leadership is as Much an Art Form as It is a Science

However, while in one sense everyone is a theologian and everyone is a leader, there are rudiments that can enhance or deteriorate one’s theology or leadership. A lack of embracing the knowable God ends in deterioration, and the sharing of relationship with the revealed will of God in Jesus himself and the revealed and recorded Word of God called the Bible coupled with a sound hermeneutic and solid epistemology usually in association with a leading disciple of Jesus Christ, a teacher if you will, grows one’s theology exponentially, enhancing it to heights heretofore unimaginable to that person. That model more clearly represents a person and their leadership. Leadership is as much an art form as it is a science. But leadership is never all it can
be without both.

How is Being a Successful Leader like the Career of a Performing Artist?

Being a successful leader is somewhat like the career of a performing artist. Many may never reach the top 40, but those out of the top 40 have influenced their thousands and often tens of thousands or even millions of people over a lifetime of work. Also, while it appears a performing artist becomes a top 40 performer overnight, it is usually preceded by years of preparation and performance. Even Moses, the second greatest leader to ever live, took 40 years in the limelight and 40 years in incubation to become a truly great leader. Picture yourself as
Moses being prepared by God for service. It will help you to not become frustrated in your development.

“Moses spent forty years thinking he was somebody; forty years learning he was nobody; and forty years discovering what God can do with a nobody.”
— D.L. Moody

Your Leadership is Important to God

I am sharing these thoughts with you because your leadership is important to God, to you, and to me. Your leadership should soar with heavenly aspirations and Divine blessing. A child of God is a royal descendant of the King. Regardless of that descendant’s present circumstances, royal life flows inside that person. Realize your heavenly calling and live out its reality (1 Peter 2:9).

Faith Will Lay a Solid Foundation

In preparation for expounding on being an overnight success as a leader, the Apostle James’ comments on faith will lay a solid foundation, noting particularly verse 3.

James 1:1-27, NIV

1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among
the nations: Greetings.

2. Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

3. because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

4. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking

5. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding
fault, and it will be given to you.

6. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave
of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

7. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

8. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

9. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.

10. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation–since they will pass away like a wild

11. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is
destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will
receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me”; For God cannot be tempted by
evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

14. but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

15. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives
birth to death.

16. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.

17. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly
lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

18. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of
all he created.

19. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to
speak and slow to become angry,

20. because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

21. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the
word planted in you, which can save you.

22. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

23. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at
his face in a mirror

24. and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

25. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not
forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do.

26. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues
deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

27. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and
widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Focus On Jesus and Follow His Plan

Now, of a certainty, the focus of the Apostle James’ writing is upon faith and an enduring spiritual maturity that results in a lifelong focus on Jesus and following His plan. I chose that last phrase because the theme for 2020 and beyond of the General Conference Church of God (Seventh Day) is Focus On Jesus and Follow His Plan. This is a worthy simple statement to serve as a reference point for all disciples of Jesus Christ to use as a compass for their belief and behavior.

The point of the Apostle James’ text is intended to be preserved and applied to your leadership. Without trials, difficult circumstances, tribulations and all those seemingly negative things that would seem to inhibit your leadership from outside influences, your leadership will never be strong enough to support a great structure of disciples.

You Have Been Called to Be a Leader

You, friend, have been called to be a leader of many disciples. Everyone has, but few achieve it. If you persevere, you will achieve success. It is that simple and that complex. Leadership is simple, but it isn’t simplistic. It is also complex, but it isn’t complicated. Leadership involves people, management, decisions, time, material, spiritual, and emotional resources, and above all it requires love, love of God and people.

The title hints at a possible story of An Overnight Success. The story is old and perhaps you have heard some version of it, since every preacher that has ever lived has enjoyed telling this story. It is a beautiful parable and the variations on it are endless. But it bears repeating in application of James 1:3 and its directed application to leadership. Hence, I have adapted the version shared herein for leadership.

The Farmer and His Mule

There was a farmer who establishing a farm in frontier days. As he claimed his land and set about to work it, he discovered a sinkhole in his land, a deep pit that just dropped the ground to a depth of about ten or twelve feet. He thought little of it, except that someday he would fill it for safety’s sake. The farmer took his mule and set about plowing his fields, seeding, cultivating, and harvesting. He had phenomenal success, so much so he had to hire workers to bring their mules and help him expand his operations. But tragedy struck one day. His faithful
mule he had used the last 3 years could not be found. He did not come to work when he was called.

So, the farmer searched for his mule. He found him quickly because of his continual braying. During the night, the mule had fallen into the sinkhole. He called his friends and try as they might, they could not retrieve the old mule from the pit. The pain and braying by the old mule were just too much for the farmer to bear. So, as dark drew on, he decided the right thing to do was to not allow the mule to suffer anymore and to simply bury him there. So, he and his friends retrieved their shovels and set to work. The moonless and heavily clouded night seemed to be a mirror of their emotional state at the duty which lay before them.

the farmer's mule

They Worked Diligently

They worked diligently, shovel after shovel, throwing dirt onto the poor mule below until they filled the hole, and they returned to their homes to mourn the poor farmer’s loss. That is, all except the distraught farmer who loved
his mule and thought he would just sit by his lost friend’s grave until the morning. As the first light of dawn brightened the sky, the sleeping farmer heard a snort. To his bewilderment, there stood his faithful mule waiting to go to work and snorting to the farmer about the time. Of course, as they threw each shovel of dirt on the back of the old mule, he shook it off and stood on the dirt that had fallen on him. Ultimately, the old mule was free to leave, but he stood his ground waiting to do the farmer’s bidding.

Leadership is like the mule of this story, how the leader handles adversity determines the leader’s success. When a leader assumes defeat, the leader could get buried alive. Understanding one must move past each difficulty leads the leader to success in leadership. The Leader truly is an overnight success.

Failing Does Not a Failure Make

The principles of leadership I have shared herein are sometimes referred to as “failing forward,” “falling upward,” or simply steadfastness. The object of the lesson is to learn that failing does not a failure make, nor does a loss mean defeat. That is true if the leader learns something and survives with the scars as testimonies of the trials in battle. A warrior without scars has not seen many battles and hence, that warrior’s endurance has not been adequately tested. A strong positive character of love, honesty, integrity, ethical, moral, and the like, makes incidental failures unlikely to be life-threatening to one’s leadership.

Be strong and courageous in Jesus Christ, Leader, as you serve the LEADER, the King in whose service you have been called. Oh, yes. “Count it all joy when you fall into the pits of many tribulations.

The King and I will rejoice over the success of your leadership.