‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints’ (Eph 6:18, KJV).
For the majority of my Christian life, I have been on the outside looking in, not realising how much work it took for those who were leading to be effective in their various ministries. Then I grew up and had the opportunity to be on the inside where I saw ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’. My experience taught me that in all our doing we must find time to intercede on behalf of our leaders and we must find ways to encourage them to be all that God has called them to be. Being exposed to some of the negative aspects of leadership I’ve had to ‘come out from among them.’ Sometimes departing was accomplished mentally and other times physically. It takes maturity (spiritual growth) and courage to know when to stand up and speak out against injustice (especially on behalf of those you lead) or when to physically ‘come out from among them’ (see 2nd Cor 6:17). Out of that experience I became a prayer warrior with leadership being one of my main focus.
I had the time of my life being served by others while growing up in my home church. I attended that church from birth to sixteen years old (I left to join my mother in another country where I experienced a mixture of both effective and ineffective leadership). Leaders I admired in my home church, I still admire today. They were leaders I aspired to be like and in some ways have followed in their footsteps (serving in the Sunday school and youth department). They still keep in contact with me, ensuring all is well. They call with words of comfort whenever they know that I am experiencing a loss. They write letters, emails and send cards with encouraging words. Their consistency in caring for the saints encourages me to be persistent in my obedience to God’s Word in praying for all saints.
I pray for continued strength for those who are already leading effectively. Why? They are the enemy’s main target. Leaders who are effective in their leadership, daily face the darts of the enemy. They are gossiped about, lied on, verbally abused, people avoid them for fear of becoming unpopular and they travel a very lonely path. The list is endless and those things they ponder in their hearts, only they and God knows the depths of their pain. They get weary from taking the many hits but they remain focused and continue to serve the Lord in their service to men. They need our prayers so that the light will shine though the darkness and they will be encouraged on their journey. They need our prayers so that when they fall they do not stay down. As we bring them before God He will send His angels to lift them up and carry them in their state of weakness. They will get up and continue on their journey. Each time they will come back stronger than they were before because they allowed God to fight their battles and keep their focus on doing His will.
I pray for enlightenment for those who are ineffective in their leadership. Why? I do that because I am commanded to do so. We are to pray for all saints at all times, not just some of the times. We are to pray for those who spitefully use us and abuse us. That is hard, at first, but once we practise doing the will of God it gets easier and then become a natural part of our prayer life. In my last fellowship I had the opportunity to see how prayer changed things for the better in this area. I had no peace about the situation until I turned it over to God. I began to pray for the individuals through whom the enemy was working and I began to see change. It was not the change I expected but change, nevertheless. So I continue to pray for my leaders and watched God at work. My attitude began to change towards those leaders. My whole attitude prior to praying for those individuals was that, “They should know better. They are called to lead the flock and they have the Word which teaches them how to do that. Therefore, they have no excuse to be treating people the way they do.” I soon changed my tune, recognising that they too are individuals, just like me, thriving to walk the path of righteousness. They too need to be encouraged to do what is right. They too need to experience the love of God through those around them. So I asked God what could I do to help.
Through a period of fasting and continuous praying, I would be guided to the various Scriptures that would eventually point me in the right direction or God would reveal to me a particular situation that called for intercession. There were times I had to sit and chat with those leaders, making them aware of the Biblical path they needed to take, in handling some of the issues that the fellowship faced. The change I expected did not happen while I was there but God brought about the change I needed in my attitude before He moved us on. When we do fall down we must get up by confessing our sins, accepting God’s forgiveness and continuing on the path He has set for us. That is the only way forward.
I therefore, exhort you to pray for your leaders (whether those above you or those whom you have put into position to help with the teaching and nurturing process). I’ll say that again. Pray for your leaders. Pray without ceasing. Those of you who are leaders of ministries within your fellowship, ask God to show you how you fit into the plan. When you bring your leader before God, you are investing in the lives of all those people within your fellowship--that includes you! Therefore, it’s a win-win situation. It pays to pray for your leaders and their families. God has given your pastor/priest a vision for your fellowship. Therefore, as you pray, ask God to show you how you can help to fulfil that vision, using the gifts that He has given to you (both natural abilities and spiritual gifts). Pray without ceasing (1st Thes 5:17). Keep your mind focused on God as He reveals Himself to you, in answer to your prayer. God doesn’t always answer the way we expect Him to answer or at the time we expect but He always answers. So continue to seek Him and look for the answers (see Matthew 7:7-8).
See part 3 for some words of encouragement.
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