Freedom and Leadership

A Word to Consider - Freedom and Leadership
by Bill NeSmith

     True freedom starts from the inside and expresses itself outward. Paul the apostle told us in Galatians 5:1 that ‘It was for freedom that Christ has set us free’ (NASB).  We have been set free so that we can live free - free to be led by the Spirit of God.  Contrary to conventional thinking, freedom is not the ability to do what one wants. Freedom is the ability to do what is needed unhindered by our own weaknesses but rather empowered by the grace-giving Spirit of God.

     True spiritual leadership is only developed to the degree that one understands spiritual freedom.   Both will cost you, both will never appear as expected, and neither can be developed alone.


Freedom Will Cost

     Freedom will cost you more than bondage.The first generation of Israelites who left Egypt found this out when they desired the easier route back to Egypt and bondage rather than the more costly route to the Promised Land and freedom.This was the generation who painfully knew the weight of bondage, a people who had never actually been free. They longed for it, they died dreaming of it, but when they were thrust into freedom with God as their guide, they didn’t know how to handle it.

     They were called to spiritually ‘die in the wilderness’ to their own understanding and instead they literally, physically died in the wilderness because they could not change.  God had appointed leaders to lead them but it was the next generation that possessed the land.  Many of God’s promises fall on the deaf ears of one group only to be heard by the next.  God’s word is faithful even when His people are not.

     Many today come right to the point of release and fall back because they could not step away from the old ways and their own understanding and see the Spirit’s ways of doing things.


Freedom will be Different

     Those who left Egypt for the Promised Land also had to learn that leadership in freedom is not the same as leadership in bondage.  In Numbers 11-12, we read that the people continued to complain against God and Moses.  The people had been led in bondage and all their basic needs were met.  Character (what we call the fruit of the Spirit) was not a developed quality in their lives.  They could work but they didn’t manage themselves well.  Later Moses’ sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron, stepped in and wanted an equal voice in leadership.  Moses did not defend himself.  God defended Moses and He clarified the flow of leadership.

     Leadership is not just an individual position.  True spiritual leadership is a component of the overall direction of God in line with His plan.  Just as a person stands in a river, it is not their single positional location but the manner in which they are positioned to others in the river that matters – a river who’s direction is ultimately guided and shaped by our Creator God.

'The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.'  (Proverbs 21:1)

     Proverbs 21:1 tells us that even the highest leader is directed by God as easily as He shapes the course of rivers.  Getting in line with the flow is most beneficial to all involved.  It is true that our human nature does not instinctively initiate but leans more towards being led or told what to do but this can quickly change when hardships come or humility is lacking.  Scripture even says that in the absence of vision or direction, the people wander.  This can be a statement against the leadership as much as the people but often the Lord withholds direction to provoke a hunger and to stimulate our growth.

     We today must remember what the Israelites needed to learn after coming out of Egypt.  ‘This is not that!’'  While in bondage, hardship was a dreaded thing and submission was the very fiber of bondage.  For us today, hardship and submission (the lack of pride) are the core blocks that shape us into the person God intends us to be.  The difference as it relates to freedom is that we submit to God’s hand, His timing, and the leaders around us.  Only then can we properly flow in our own place of purpose.


Freedom is Rarely Found Alone

     There are many in the body of Chris who are called to be leaders but will not find their place in leadership until the current leadership finds them in their place.  It has been said, ‘serve where you are needed in order to find where you have pleaded’'.  (see Ephesians 4:15-16)

     Freedom is not the ability to define the options as if to set one’s own course. True freedom is the ability to trust God and to choose from among the options given at the moment.  After all, a train is never freer than when it is on its tracks – the very things that govern its success.  Many lose their prime place of acceleration because they do not opt to serve a leader and learn from them (their successes and failures) but rather strive for a place of leadership and end up learning the hard way for themselves.

     For the Christian, we learn well from the centurion found in Matthew 8, who as the Lord declared, had expressed a level of faith as yet unseen in all of Israel.  The centurion understood freedom within authority and not freedom apart from authority.   Whether he knew it or not, he knew the wisdom of Proverbs 21 mentioned above.

     Scripture tells us to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift us up.  The sight of the Lord is the vision and direction of the Lord. Humble yourself, submit to your current responsibility and he who finds you faithful in well doing will support your own success.  Success is not defined by forward motion. Success is defined by a completed end and a plan followed.


Freedom’s Future

     Jesus tells us, as recorded in Luke 4:18-19, that He came here to preach, set free, give sight, and heal.  The Spirit of the Lord was given to Him to accomplish this.  Jesus had just left the wilderness trials where Satan offered Him an alternative to God’s river of directional authority.

     Our freedom in Christ is found as we recognize that God is in charge, Jesus is our Head, we are a Body fit together of various components, and that there are those who are called to equip and train the saints for the work of the ministry that Jesus started and called us to in the ‘great commission’ and no man is an island.

     We must all as individuals stop striving for position and rank but rather service and humility.  Freedom is found when our lives are in line with God’s plan and authority.  The centurion knew that authority was given and dispensed, so too is freedom.

     As scripture foretold in Joel 2, God’s people are being prepared for some of the greatest challenges and victories they have ever seen.  Joel 2 points out that the Lord will pour out His spirit on all flesh.  This outpouring is not just ‘the spout where the glory runs out’, but it is much more.  It is an empowering, a transformation, an informing, a uniting, the ultimate ‘shock and awe’. It is the power of the hour, the catalyst for salvations wherever it takes place. A life changing, world change, game changer from Heaven!

     God is looking for a people submitted to Him, His Rules, His Ways (Joshua 1:8-9).  Godly leadership will assist in your release because that is God’s heart. Do not be like Miriam and Aaron, striving for it yourself. Be like Joshua who submitted to Moses, learned by example, and led the people in.


Freedom and Leadership