I once heard a commentator say that a politician should never be allowed to lead a nation into war unless that politician had served in combat and understands the pain and suffering such a decision will create. Living isolated in a comfortable government office surrounded by a personal security detail is not the same as having fought through the grit and blood of actual combat.
The same is true in spiritual matters. In times of intense spiritual warfare proven leaders, men and women who have engaged with hell and overcame, are the kind of leaders we want at the helm of decision-making. A naïve and isolated devotional form of faith that shies away from conflict is a faith disconnected from reality. That kind of leader will lead followers into places of jeopardy.
In one aspect, the last two years has divided the Church. I would suggest this is not a negative form of division. It is a point of clarification. Spiritual warriors and pacifists are being revealed. The defining difference between these two camps is engagement. Engagement is where a leader’s ability to lead becomes visible. It is also where trust is gained by those who follow their lead when conflict appears, and courage is required to move us forward.
Soft, isolated, and naïve leaders are giving way to a new genre of leaders, some who have been hidden away by the Lord for such a time as this. This new group of emerging leaders have not vied for position or made a way for themselves. They will emerge under the leading of the Lord to move past leaders frozen in fear who resemble the brothers of David and the citizens of Israel who were being taunted by Goliath and had no leader with the courage to lead them into battle.
The initial warfare conducted by these new leaders will have taken place out of sight through prayer, sacrifice, and service. As a spiritual conflict intensifies, their engagement will become visible and vocal. The courage they display will challenge the reinforced perimeter of the comfort zones of leaders who have lived in compromise to the issues that now threaten the spiritual well being of those they had been entrusted to lead.
In the coming days, the hearts, and motives of leaders in the Church and within the institutions of culture will be revealed – a revelation that only takes place in conflict where engagement is required. If we want to move into a new future – a future that will breech the walls of the status quo and compromise, we will need to find and follow leaders we can trust. These are leaders who walk toward conflict with both courage and compassion. Those are the leaders we can trust to lead us through times of deepening spiritual conflict because they are responding to the voice of God, not the fear of man.