As a Christ-centered leader, you have the responsibility of choosing people who have the potential for leadership. You not only have the responsibility for finding the potential in people, but you have the opportunity to develop that potential. You help identify the gifts, strengths, talents, and faith of persons and then assist them in using those gifts, strengths, talents, and faith in ways that reveal the love of God in every situation and circumstance of their lives.
Too often, either because it is not a priority or it seems unnecessary, leaders don’t always invest the time or energy in identifying and developing the leadership strengths and talents of the people entrusted to their care. Yet, choosing leaders and assisting them in their development is one of the most significant aspects of your work as a leader.
Your effectiveness as a leader is experienced in the ways you build trust, show compassion, provide stability, and offer hope in developing relationships. Your courage as a leader is seen in the ways you choose and develop leaders.
As a Christ-centered leader, a fundamental element of your effectiveness is prayer. Luke, the gospel writer, tells us that Jesus spent the night in prayer before choosing people to join him in ministry.
When the time came to choose people to join him, Jesus retreated to the mountain to pray. He prayed to keep focus on the context of his ministry and to keep the continuity between what he is doing and what would be needed in the future. Luke tells us he prayed to God all night long.
His prayer was not about how he was feeling or what he wanted. Jesus was not making a political decision or choosing people who would see things his way. He was seeking a connection between God’s people of the past and God’s people of the future, by choosing leaders for the present. His all-night prayer vigil was not just for the moment but for each of us who are in the church today. He prayed to keep focus, not only on the history of Israel but on the future of God’s people.
Read Luke 6:12-16
During that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night long. At daybreak, he called together his disciples. He chose twelve of them whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter; his brother Andrew; James; John; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus; Simon, who was called a zealot; Judas the son of James; and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Jesus prays all night long to choose twelve of his followers, from all the others, to be apostles. My perception is that this was not a casual thing for Luke or for Jesus. I do not believe that God said, “Take this one and this one and this one.” If that were the case, why would Jesus pray all night?
What I have learned is that the Holy Spirit and faith do not make life simpler or easier, only deeper, more meaningful, and more powerful. Jesus prayed all night to choose from all who followed him.
Staying Focused Through Prayer
Jesus was praying to keep the focus on the context of his ministry. There is a continuity between what he is doing and with Israel. The twelve disciples are related to the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke understands that in Jesus, God is continuing what God started with the people of Israel. So, his all-night prayer vigil was not just for the moment but for us. He is praying to keep focus, not only on the history of Israel but on the future of God’s people.
One of the most difficult prayers to pray is the church’s prayer. The prayer is not about what you want. The prayer is focused upon who God needs to be faithful. You do not pray from your best thinking or best practices. Your prayer is focused upon God and who God needs you to be at this place and time in history and for the future of God’s people.
Praying All Night
So, Jesus prayed all night. He was conscious of others besides himself. It is a critical moment in the history of Israel, in his own life, and for the future of the church. So, he prayed. You and I can say we began as an all-night prayer vigil in the heart and mind of Jesus.
It is through prayer that you keep your focus on God’s plan and purpose. If you don’t keep your focus on God, you will make your decisions based on your preferences. You will choose others who will perpetuate your preferences. You pray to keep your focus on God. It is essential that you keep your community, neighborhood, and city in mind and heart as you choose leaders who can hold the past and future together. Prayer will connect you to God’s great plan. It will help you see the world more as God sees the world.
Developing a Pattern of Prayer
We are at a critical moment in the life and future of the church. Jesus spent the night praying for you to be the leader needed at this point in time. If Jesus was keeping you, the future church, in heart and mind as he prayed that night, it seems to me that prayer is essential as you shape spiritual leaders for today. Your prayers are essential as you choose leaders who can and will, in the midst of re-formation, connect the past with the future.
I know that it seems overly dramatic, but at the end of life, you will not be judged by how many diplomas you have received, how much money you have made, or how many great things you have done. You will be judged on how you love the people God sent your way. You will be judged on how you lived your life in relationship to others and on how you assisted people to become who God created them to be.
Your leadership will be judged by the love you put into others. Jesus prayed all night before choosing the twelve who were close to him. So, it is essential that you, as a Christ-centered leader, develop a pattern of prayer. Your prayer is necessary in choosing leaders.
In choosing leaders for your congregation, keep the context of the congregation in mind. Consider, not only the history of the congregation but, the future of the congregation. Consider, not only the history of the congregation but the overall history of the Christian church and how that history is connected to and informs the present and shapes the future.
In choosing leaders for your congregation, consider the gifts, talents, strengths, and depth of faith needed to connect the life of the church to the present and future. Look for trustworthy, active, and persuasive persons who live out their faith in everyday and ordinary relationships.
In choosing leaders for your congregation, pray. Take as much time to pray as it takes to consider God’s call upon the life of the congregation and upon the lives of the people in the congregation. Pray that the beloved children of God will live as God’s beloved children in the way they love one another. Ultimately, it is better to be a loving body of Jesus followers who love others as they have been loved than to be a religious club built upon personal and theological preferences.
Who you are is how you lead!
Give God thanks for the people you met today. For whom did you pray? In what ways did you pray to the leadership of others? How were you exercising leadership when you prayed? In what ways did you assist others to pray and to become who God has gifted them to lead? Give God thanks for the opportunities you had to love others as you have been loved.