This is an excellent article on the trials of leadership!
The original article can be found here: http://www.faimission.org/principles-of-pioneering-8-tests-in-the-lives-of-every-leader
Every leader needs to have a theology of testing. If we do not wake up every morning and view our days as God ordained tests that form us and forge for His purposes and for His glory, we will live beneath His intentions for our lives. Every believer needs to understand divine testing; pioneering leaders all the more.
Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. (Psalm 26:2)
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. (Psalm 66:10)
In school we are tested so that the institution can determine whether we are competent enough to progress. Wise students who have a vision for the future prepare for those tests by studying and making sure they have what is required to face the test and pass it. Far too many leaders don’t approach divine testing the same way.
Too many leaders waste tests, fail tests and keep taking the same tests over and over again because they don’t realize that God intends to forge them.
Right now you have just been tested by God, are being tested by God, or are about to be tested by God. Are you prepared to face them and pass them?
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3)
Below are four truths about testing and eight tests you will face if you are a leader. I have in my mind’s eye pioneers in particular. If you are going to lead in a pioneering context, you better be prepared for these tests. They are coming! And with force.
TRUTHS ABOUT TESTING
- They are frequent (almost perpetual) – In the early days the mistakes we make as a leader has the least amount of consequences. But as we grow, and our influence with us, the impact of mistakes becomes greater. We always need to be tested and receive critical analysis so that our blindspots are acknowledged and dealt with.
- They must be passed – Tests are not arbitrary. They are given to be passed. They are given for our good. The qualities possessed in a test is what you will need in the future promotion. Without those qualities He will not promote you. There are seasonal tests and tests of a lifetime. These tests define us. Consider Saul’s hasty sacrifice or Peter’s denials. Tests matter.
- They always precede promotion – God tests us for the purpose of promoting us. With that said, we need to know the difference between Self-promotion and God-promotion. They are not the same. Self promotion can come without testing. But when we promote ourselves, we are not safe. When God tests and promotes, we are safe. Divine promotion is the one we want. It is invincible regardless of who opposes us or how. Climbing a ladder isn’t evidence of promotion. We should always ask “Am I passing the test Lord?” and “What do you want to do with my life Lord?”
- They are necessary – In order for us to be greatly used by God we must be greatly tested by Him. Some leaders are tested in private and some are tested in public. One copes with hiddenness and the other with public humiliation. But all are tested. And all are tested necessarily. We need to be tested.
EIGHT KINDS OF TESTS IN THE LIVES OF EVERY LEADER
- The test of small things. What do you do as a leader when you’re asked to fulfill a task that we are overqualified for? What do you do when faced with something that feels beneath you? The test of small things is critical in establishing integrity, meekness and authenticity. Jesus washed feet and bled on a cross. The higher the call to lead, the lower we must go to serve.
- The testing of our motives. The testing of our motives can come in a million different ways. Sometime through the offer of favor and blessing (like Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness) or through opposition and persecution. This text reveals whether we are true to ourselves and through it we gain integrity.
- The test of hiddenness. We need to be true to our calling before we are given a platform and given an opportunity for our calling to be expressed. We develop personal integrity in our calling by investing time and energy into the formation of our gifts before they are publicly seen and acknowledged.
- The test of possible promotion. Will we stay true to ourselves and our calling when a potential promotion or platform is on the horizon? Do the prospects of blessing and prominence deter us from our course? Can we be bought? Will we compromise when we are faced with gain? What if we are offered a promotion in an area that is contrary to the path that we are walking? Do we speak to leaders differently because we perceive they have the ability to promote us? Or do we trust the Lord to promote us and honor our leaders as brothers in the Lord?
- The test of showing up when the stakes are low. Will we be present and punctual when no one is looking? When the stakes are low, will we cultivate integrity and character in the grace of God living before an audience of One? One of the fastest ways to erode the unity and vibrancy of a team is when people on the team show up late or don’t show up at all. It maximizes the opportunities to bear offense towards brothers and sisters.
- The test of stewardship. Will we be wise and generous with what we have? How we use our resources when we have little is how we will use it when we have much. It is a delusion to think that we will be wise and generous when we have wealth. This doesn’t just apply to finances but every kind of resource. Some people are wise and stingy, and some people are generous and stupid. We want to be wise and generous.
- The Test of Injustice. When we are slandered, stolen from, lied to, gossiped about or betrayed, how do we respond? Do we respond in humility and mercy or in pride and anger? Do we believe in divine vindication? Or do we feel the need to defend ourselves? The test of injustice will come in the life of every leader. Most leaders I know would say that the test of injustice is THE test that makes or breaks leaders. Every fruitful leader has stories about injustices done against them. This test accomplishes more than we can possibly imagine.
- The Test of praise. When men speak well of us, we are tested as to whether our identity will be rooted in what they say or what God says. When we are perceived in a good light, will we “read our own press” and feed our spirits on what people say about us or about what God says about us? What people think and what God thinks are rarely every similar.
These are only a few tests. There are many more. But these are essential for every leader to understand and prepare for. We will all face each of these tests; some of them multiple times at several critical junctions in our walk with Jesus as we shepherd His people.
Dalton is the Founder of FAI. He and his family are based in the Middle East.
Our role has become much clearer after the troubling end of the Presidential election.
My focus in this article is to bring clarity of our vision to the Revival Church staff and team, yet it’s something that any Christian will appreciate.
I am simply confounded. No matter how I try, I cannot even come close to understanding how a Christian would support a candidate that has so clearly, boldly and methodically renounced biblical truths. I’m beside myself.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV) 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
That is a verse specifically dealing with the antichrist, but the principle remains. There is a strong delusion in the world today as the antichrist spirit gains momentum.
For example, consider abortion. If you understand biblical history, you know that it is a violent antichrist spirit. Just as with Herod during the arrival of Jesus on the Earth, there is an antichrist, God killing spirit in America. To stand with anybody who promotes this spirit is beyond nonsensical.
Yes, it’s true that one day after the election that Jesus is still the King. However, I’m trembling as I believe the King is closer to executing desperately needed judgment on America than he has ever been.
Franklin Graham, regarding the election of President Obama to another term: “…I think it will be to our peril and to the destruction of this nation.”
Have you ever considered the nation we love ceasing to exist? It’s possible. Many think it’s probable.
I’ve asked the following question several times yet it’s almost always dodged without an answer:
If a candidate were to support the murder of any child under the age of two, for any reason, would you vote for him? If it was OK to take your toddler, who was becoming an inconvenience to you, or if you couldn’t afford to take care of him, down to the clinic to have him dismembered and disposed of, would that be acceptable? If not, why is it OK to stand with a candidate who supports the murder of children who are younger?
Another even more provocative question is this:
If a two year old child was the result of rape, should it be OK to kill them? If not, then why is it OK to kill them at an earlier age?
The other issues that I consider most troubling are the destruction of the traditional family through the promotion of gay marriage, and the resistance to stand with Israel.
For me, the economy is a near non-issue for the Christian as our needs were already guaranteed to be supplied. My vote was not at all driven by questions about our economy.
A LUCIFERIAN SPIRIT
It’s shocking how deeply a Luciferian spirit has infiltrated the church and our nation. There is a deeper teaching that this article can’t give justice to, but allow me to share some of the key issues that we must be aware of so we can best understand our vision of reformation.
Simply stated, Lucifer was in the very presence of God, witnessing and experiencing all of his love, power and glory. The radiance of God’s presence and his unlimited and immeasurable power was before Lucifer continually. So, what happened?
With God in the room, Lucifer was focused on self.
It’s crazy! Yet, we see this every week in churches from coast to coast.
We see this troubling spirit in the story of the money changers in the temple. Jesus violently reacted as he picked up on this self-centered, Luciferian and religious spirit that resulted in people using God’s holy place for their own personal gain. The temple wasn’t about worshiping God that day, it was about worshiping self just as Lucifer did.
Today’s church, and today’s America is largely about the pursuit of happiness. God’s presence is not enough, and, an even more troubling reality is that, with God in the room, if he is blocking what we really want we will forsake him and spiritualize our own endeavors. That’s what happened with Eve in the garden. Satan appealed to her desire for godliness, for personal gain. So, she rebelled all while spiritualizing her decision.
It’s a Luciferian spirit that is driving so many in the church to focus on personal gain. It shockingly results in some Christians actually supporting abortion if it will result in a better life for the mother. It’s such a high level demonic deception that it has put our entire nation, not to mention the church, at great risk.
The Lucifiarian tradition usually reveres Lucifer, not as the Devil, but as a rescuer or guiding spirit. This philosophy is based on carnal fulfillment with consideration for the preservation of self.
This spirit must be dealt with from the opposing direction. Check out the story in Revelation:
Revelation 12:11 (ESV) 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
The blood of Jesus, the declaration of our surrender to him and focusing not on personal happiness but on embracing the call to martyrdom is the answer.
Our churches and our American lives can no longer be about personal gain, storing up blessings, self-centered happiness or loving our lives.
It’s so sad to me as a leader that the church at large is not satisfied with the fact that Jesus died for them. Is that not enough for us to lay down our own lives for him?
We see most every Christian conference today focusing on our blessings, our identity, our rights. Of course, there is biblical precedence for such topics when handled rightly, however the concern is that self-focus is what draws the crowds instead of the call to die daily and surrender all.
We also see this issue manifesting in the realm of finances. The greatest offerings are received when the greatest teaching on financial return is delivered.
It’s a Luciferian spirit that drives abortion as well. When focused on our own happiness, our delusion results in a willingness to to remove any hindrance to that pursuit—including unwanted children. That self-centered spirit is what drove Pharaoh when he tried to annihilate the Hebrews and what drove Herod when he tried to eliminate Jesus by killing children. It’s the same spirit that fueled the Holocaust. That spirit is powerfully active in America today.
The current abortion crisis in America is significantly worse than the horrific tragedy of the Holocaust. 17 million vs. 55 million dead.
Now, let me say this very, very clearly. I don’t believe the primary reason abortion is freely available in America today is our elected officials. It’s because the same Luciferian spirit that drives the abortion agenda drives so many in the church. Those seeking abortion are on the hunt for personal happiness and the elimination of any threat to it. In the church, the focus has become the same—personal benefit, happiness and freedom. The tickling ear messages and the focus on personal gain is rampant in the church today. Instead of calling the church to lay down their lives, the messages are nearly always about finding themselves and having the best life they can. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe it’s time to “become a better you,” it’s time to “become a deader you.” Dead to self, alive in Christ.
This is the current state of the church.
Charles Finney brought this strong charge back in 1873:
“The error that lies at the foundation of this decay of individual and public conscience originates, no doubt, in the pulpit. … Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree.
“If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.
“If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.
“Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”
So, that’s our setup. Now, what should our response be?
Revival Church team, it’s imperative that we all understand what the vision is and what it is not so we can fulfill the very finely focused mission God has given us.
Further, we must understand if a function of our ministry is a key component of the core vision, or if it’s a supplemental support to the core, or even if it’s contrary to the core. This will help ensure that the main things remain the main things.
Our call is to deal directly with a sleeping and dying church. It’s our prophetic mandate. The alarms must be sounded and repentance must be the result. There is a holy grief and a spirit of mourning that must be upon us, even as we are driven by a deep, abiding joy as God moves through us. Remember, Revival Church is a prophetic ministry that is focused on reformation and calling the greater church into a revival ready model. Many of the messages that come out of this ministry are not only for those in our church but are for those throughout the Detroit region and beyond.
The two chapters in the Bible that must be continually opened at Revival Church are Joshua 3 and Acts 2. Those are our blueprints. Study them. Memorize them. Pray through them. Continually.
Our key verse is Joshua 3:5: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
My book 20 Elements of Revival is our practical guidebook as it gives us a step by step process of city-wide revival. If it’s in there, it’s in our DNA.
Again, as we look at the vision, keep in mind the state of the church and the state of the nation. There is much calibration to be done.
WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT ISN’T
- Revival Church is prayer-fueled and aggressive. We are calling people into an urgent lifestyle of holy striving and zealous prayer as we press toward the goal together. There is a literal groan of intercession that we must discover and release night and day.
- Revival Church is a movement of holiness, repentance, excellence and radical discipleship. Joshua 3:5 reveals that we are to consecrate ourselves and prepare for a life of wonders.
- Revival Church is an apostolic and prophetic church. As an apostle/prophet with a regional and national focus, we are leading from that edge. The constant focus around here is reformation, revival and regional impact which means we are always shifting and redirecting in our methods as we pursue the ultimate goal. Following a prophetic leader is a challenge to say the least. The vision is always expanding and the methodology is always changing which requires that everybody involved is ‘instant in season and instant out of season’. New projects are often initiated well before old projects are completed.
- Revival Church’s message isn’t locally limited. I say often that I’m a one string banjo. We are all about revival on a regional and national level. So, what this means is that those in our church will be hearing the same revival thread in our messages over and over again. We are intentionally focused and limited instead of diverse in our teachings. I understand that the messages I deliver are mostly for the region and nation, and the primary vehicle we are using is the Sunday evening Revival Church service. I’m certainly preaching to those in attendance, but I’m equally targeting those who will be hearing the message online. If I have to say the same thing over and over until those in attendance have it memorized word for word, that’s OK as long as the message is impacting those who are listening in our target areas around the world.
- Revival Church, by design, does not give all five of the offices equal attention. This is not to say that we don’t value all of the offices, but it does say that we know who we are and who we are not. In the current church structure the presumption is that all five offices must be active in every local church. That’s not true. First of all, that’s not realistic for smaller churches. Second, in scripture we know the church is identified by the city, not by the local expression. The five-fold offices must be in effect in the city church, which will require that we as leaders are OK with people in our church participating in other local churches that are anointed in another office.
- Revival Church, again by design, is not a Pastor led church. The current Pastor led church system in our nation has resulted in a lot of false expectations that are placed on leadership. This is one of our greatest challenges. Again, it’s not that we don’t value the Pastoral office, we do. However, our focus, time, energy and resources are not to be used to focus at a significant level on developing pastoral ministry. Interestingly, the presumption might be that without a strong pastoral focus that people can’t easily grow. It’s quite the contrary around here. We are raising up people who are growing at a faster pace than I’ve ever witnessed—and these people are self-motivated. When they notice a struggle in their lives, they proactively take steps to resolve it. False expectations can lead people to presume I as the Senior Leader will be fulfilling the role of pastor in their lives when, in reality, I’m not a pastor at all. This is a challenge to communicate and it can often feel like rejection to those who want close and constant access to me. However, it’s not rejection at all. It’s simply that a prophet/apostle interacts very differently with people than a pastor does.
- Revival Church has an unapologetically high bar of commitment. We believe the 24/7 church is coming, and the call around here is to start modeling this emerging church structure. Additionally, we are launching 50 new churches in this region alone, and we are asking everybody to consider how they will participate in this mission. Everybody here has the goal of changing the Detroit region and working toward revival. We are an “all hands on deck” ministry and are calling everybody to gather every time the doors are opened and the alarm is sounded.
- Revival Church has a vision that demands we expand and look outward. There is much that feels undone in our local church due to our focus to continue expanding in the region. We refuse to wait until everything is perfectly in place and mature before we move out and launch other ministries and projects.
- Revival Church’s core vision is extremely limited. If I had to narrow it down to just a few focuses I would have to include: Prayer, regional revival, church planting, groans of intercession, holiness, equipping carriers of fire and releasing regional and national prophetic alerts. Other focuses and ministries may or may not fit within the scope of our vision. Some are supplemental and greatly needed while others are beneficial, but not in our setting.
- Revival Church is less about the experience and more about raising up sober, broken prophetic messengers. We are preparing people who will prepare regions for coming moves and judgments of God. While having a happy heart, we will also carry the weight of the cross as we call people to surrender and awaken a sleeping church. Our services and ministries will reflect this, and while often joyful, the extreme nature of the burden and mission demands that we gather together, go low and allow God to use us to carry some of the most challenging burdens we’ve ever known.
- theLab is our primary equipping center. We are aggressively encouraging every person in Revival Church to permanently call theLab their home. It is where our core DNA is best experienced and where the team will discover their cohesion and receive their assignments. The limited focus of the church is mirrored at theLab as we raise up an army of people who carry the DNA of revival. (You can apply to theLab School of Fire here: www.revivallab.com.)
To confront the spirit of this age that has made significant advances even in the last 24 hours, and to promote the spirit of revival, we must all be signed up, locked in and carrying the message of freedom in our nation.
This means a de-emphasis on personal enjoyment in the church must come as we make way for the remnant to take position, lay down their lives and advance the Kingdom of God in America.
That’s not to say that we aren’t joyful in the house of prayer. We must be. But it must be unto something. The joy of our salvation must explode as we carry the vision of salvation for a sleeping church and a lost society.