11: Discipling Spiritual Leaders – Hit the Mark

Mentoring - LeadershipWax on… wax off. Wax on… wax off

You might recognize that phrase from the 1984 hit movie, “The Karate Kid.” A young student is expecting to learn karate but his teacher, Mr. Miyagi, gives him seemingly mundane jobs that are unrelated to karate. Daniel, the young star of the movie, is given the task of washing a car. As Mr. Miyagi walks away he repeats the simple instruction while making circular motions with his hands, “Wax on… wax off. Wax on… wax off.” Little did young Daniel know that the careful execution of the mundane was preparing him for the biggest stage of his life. Wax on… wax off. Wax on… wax off

This week as we look at Discipling Spiritual Leaders we can learn no greater lessons on the process than what was employed by the Master Teacher Jesus Christ. The men under His tutelage, by norms of society, were less than ideal candidates to be leaders of a world-wide movement. Their resumes had nothing to suggest that their previous achievements would place them on the short list to do anything so monumental was what they were called to do.

Yet, from their encounters with Christ we will learn principles that are timeless and essential in the development of leaders as well as for those in leadership. Each day the disciples were experiencing interactions between Christ and others that were lessons they would one day repeat. His instructions to them may have seemed to be applicable only to the moment but in reality they were guidelines that, if implemented, would change the world.

Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. Luke 22:24-26

Spiritual Leaders have a mindset of service. They seek what is best for others and not what is best for themselves or for a favored few. They are more interested in the body succeeding than in their personal success. Unity trumps individuality.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Mark 12:17

Spiritual leaders have financial integrity. There is no muddying of the lines concerning what belongs to others. Those that lead must be trustworthy. The love of money is a disqualifier for spiritual leadership. Ask Judas.

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. Mark 6:31

Spiritual leaders have balance in their lives. There are many facets to living and a careful balance will preserve our human machinery. Even those at the forefront of a movement, such as the disciples, needed to understand this principle.

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62

Spiritual leaders have commitment to the Kingdom of God. Their consistency can be counted on. Their dedication can be depended on. They are all the way in.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 8:10-11

Spiritual leaders are interested in restoration. Helping others to be all that they can be is central to being a spiritual leader. Restoring those that need restoration and growing those that need growing is tied to spiritual leadership.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34-35

Spiritual leaders are motivated by love. There is no aspect of Christianity that does not include love. Leadership without love is like a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; noise without results. Through the prism of love spiritual leaders make decisions, lay plans, work and lead. There is no higher motive than love for God and love for our fellowman.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Everyday Jesus was telling them to Wax on… wax off. Wax on… wax off. Little did the disciples know they were preparing for the biggest stage of their lives. Simply doing as He did, living as He lived, interacting with others as He did and taking on His spirit, was the greatest training any had ever received.

Are you getting ready for greater responsibilities? If so, remember to Wax on… wax off. Wax on… wax off.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does “Spiritual Leader” mean to you?
  • Is there a difference between a spiritual leader and someone who leads in a secular capacity? Explain your answer
  • Isn’t it true that quality of a leader is determined by their position? Why or why not?
  • Isn’t it true that the more formal education one has the better a leader they will be? Why or why not?
  • How necessary are qualities such as kindness, civility and gentleness to the success of a spiritual leader? Explain your answer
  • Isn’t it true that past seriously negative behavior, though repented of, should disqualify some from spiritual leadership roles? Why or why not?
  • List some qualities that would indicate that a person would make an effective spiritual leader.
  • List some qualities that would indicate that a person would not make an effective spiritual leader.

We close this week with the words of Jesus to His disciples as he neared the time of His perfect sacrifice. It sums up His entire time with them. It’s a safe plan for us to follow today:

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. John 13:15-17

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!



11: Discipling Spiritual Leaders – Hit the Mark — 13 Comments

  1. In any lesson to be taught, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

    What is in this lesson for me?
    What is in this lesson that can make me a better Christian?

    The danger of this lesson is that we apply it to those we see in leadership. Why, because we might not see or recognise that the leadership calling of the Gospel applies to everyone. Why would it apply to me, I don't have leadership skills. I am happy to follow, why do I need to lead etc.

    The bottom line is that every Christian is called to be a leader. Who do they lead? They lead, or are supposed to lead, individuals to Jesus. Oops, does that mean this lesson is about me? Yes it is.

    The attributes of leadership taught in this lesson do not stop with the appointed leaders of the church. If this lesson is to have impact, it needs to be recognised that every one of us is a shepherd in training. When we accept the call to be a Christian, we enter a life long training program that enables us to bear fruit for the master. There are many tasks to be performed, but each task requires a leader who is willing to lead someone to Jesus.

    • Owen, I certainly understand the point you are making. However, I don't believe everyone is called to be a leader. There is a gift/talent for planning and implementing that everyone does not have. That doesn't diminsh the importance to the work or the level of committment all should have. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? 1 Corinthians 12:17

      • Curtis, if you are in the kitchen on Sabbath, doing the wiping up after a pot luck lunch, and you patiently show a young teen who has come to help how to correctly handle sharp knives so that they don't hurt themselves, aren't you leading?

        If you are a greeter, greeting the arrivals for Sabbath School, and you are explaining what to do to someone who wants to help but has never done it before, aren't you leading?

        If you are a deaconess, laying out the flowers and making the church look nice for the Sabbath program, and someone who has never done this before comes and helps, as you patiently explain what has to be done, aren't you leading?

        We can all be leaders in what we do.

        • Owen, technically you are correct in that limited sense. Yes, we all have a sphere of influence but I'm not sure I would define that as spiritual leaders. I still maintain that there are those called by God to lead - to set a course of action - to govern/manage/plan, etc.
          What do you think?

    • I agree with Owen that, if we are Christ's, we are all spiritual leaders in some capacity - whether in our homes, our neighborhoods or our churches.
      Spiritual leadership is not the same as administrative leadership.
      We are told that everyone who is born into the kingdom of God is born a missionary. A missionary's task is to lead others to Christ.
      Unfortunately, over the years, the church has forgotten that every member is to be a missionary/spiritual leaders. Many have come to believe that this is the work of professionals. And it seems to me that this is part of the problem of Laodicea: No active labor for souls makes for a dead religion.
      The only way for us to avoid the fate of being spewn out of the mouth of Christ is take the gospel commission seriously - as a task in which each one of us is expected to participate. It is then that we will feel our needs to ask of Christ the faith, righteousness and Holy Spirit He so freely offers. (See Rev 3:18)

      • I agree Inge as long as we keep in mind what Jesus said of the Pharisees, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves" (Matt. 23:15 NKJV). Missionary effort is only as good as the understanding we have of God or again as Christ said, "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:22-23 NKJV).

  2. I like it. It is practical advice that we can all implement in our own lives, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Thank you. Bh

    • This lesson is also for us today..We do Exactly as Mr Myagi instructed his student...follow Jesus's example...if He waxed in, we do exactly that, if He waxed out! we do the same. Simple enough.m thank you tis a great way to learn lol.

  3. Owen suggests above, that we need to ask concerning any lesson:

    "What is in this lesson for me?
    What is in this lesson that can make me a better Christian?"

    Should spiritual leaders be asking these question? I doubt it. Their first thought is for others, for the community, and the local church, not "for me". The job of the spiritual leader is to articulate and model a vision for the community, empowering others to fulfill their part.

    • Graeme, If you can't personalise a lesson for yourself, how do you expect to pass the lesson on to others. Personalising the lesson for yourself also allows you to present the lesson in a practical and useful way to others.

      I can relate to the wax on, wax off method of teaching. I used to do martial arts as a fitness. My teacher asked me a question which struck home, "how can you show and teach if you can't do it?".

      I'll re-phrase the question in this way. How can you teach a lesson without learning it first? How can you get your students to personalise a lesson if you are not prepared to personalise the lesson first?

      When you teach a lesson, whatever you want your students to take home with them, make sure you take it home with you too. Whatever you provide to your students that can make them better Christians, make sure it makes you a better Christian too.

      How else can you be an affective teacher?

      • So true Owen. When I train teachers I always ask the following question :
        If it's not working for you why are you trying to teach it to someone else?

      • Years ago I learned Krav Maga, and like you enjoy MA, There is no doubt that the exercises we all go thorough in any discipline, whether spiritual or otherwise, benefit us and provide a basis for teaching others. Perhaps, beyond the "personalization", it would be better if I said that teachers and leaders need to be focussed on the questions of how benefit can be brought to others. This is what makes someone a leader--the ability to go beyond self and make others the priority. Is that clearer?

        • Graeme, The ability to go beyond self and make others the priority is the calling of every Christian, not just teachers and leaders. It is called "Love your neighbour as your self".

          Because of this calling, it is imperative that a teacher, or any other leader for that matter, makes this a part of their own life.

          The biggest danger for any leader is them thinking that they have it together and everybody else has to change. Why else would they be teaching, right? WRONG!!

          We are all a work in progress as the Holy Spirit changes our lives. An effective teacher, who wants to make an effective presentation that will be a life changer to others, had better be prepared to allow the Holy Spirit to make those changes in his own life. If the teacher thinks he has it together already, or refuses to change as he / she leads the class, the impact is lost.

          This requires humility. Any pride in this area is a dangerous thing.


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