The Nature and the Development of Spirituality Among Christian LeadersSpirituality has been very simply defined in Webster's New International Dictionary (Second Edition, unabridged) in the following way: "the quality or state of being spiritual." The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia goes into the matter a little more thoroughly and comes up with this definition: "the quality of being spiritual as opposed to material. Thus theology predicates spirituality of God" (p.1610).
W. W. WINTER
Volume XI -- Number 4
All Rights Reserved
The Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary
The spirituality of man refers to the essential aspects of the immaterial part of his nature. It is one thing to be spiritually- minded. It is quite another matter to have all powers of our soul concurring in spiritual thoughts, desires, and delights, in divine and eternal things (Romans 8:6). It is to this latter state that we give our attention.
Dwight M. Pratt in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has this to say about spirituality: "a spiritually-minded man is one whose will is set on God as well as his intellect and affections. In every fiber of his moral being, and in all the activities of his soul, he is under the guidance and dominion of the Holy Spirit. The affections present motives, the intellect estimates their worthiness, the will decides upon the course of action. When this trinity of mental operation--necessary to normal manhood--is under the sway of the Divine Spirit man possesses spirituality, a state in which all the faculties of the soul are voluntarily and joyfully under the dominion and guidance of Christ's indwelling Spirit. When intellect, heart and will focus their energies reverently and affectionately upon Him, love--a passionate, ever-present, ever-dominant love--is the result. This is the triune sphere of the Holy Spirit's indwelling and activity, and the character of such a God-centered and Spirit-filled life, I describe by the exalted word 'spirituality' " (p. 2845).
He continues . . the state of being spiritual in the highest use of the word. It is purely a religious term and signifies the state of a soul vitalized by the Divine Spirit and made alive unto God. It covers the entire range of man's faculities: Intellect, feeling, will--all the attributes of personality.
"The intellectual can be divorced from the spiritual, but the spiritual can never be divorced from the intellectual. If a man is spiritual, his intellect is touched with the Divine life and comes under the power of the Divine Spirit. The common use of the word 'spirituality' limits it mistakenly to religious experience, narrowly interpreted, but as spirituality brings the intellect into harmony with the Divine reason in every realm of mental action, it may be as manifest in science, art, philosophy, commerce and law as in reilgion.
"The feelings and emotions are fertile soil for the spiritual life. Love is the beginiung and end of true religion. Spirituality in the realm of the affections is that state of soul in which the heart with its holiest love is centered on God as revealed in Christ. The specific and supreme work of the Holy Spirit is to shed abroad God's love in the heart (Romans 5:5). Spirituality sets the affections on things above and brings the entire emotional nature under the regulating and redeeming sway of the Holy Spirit" (Ibid.).
ETYMOLOGY OF "SPIRIT"
The word "spirit" comes from the Hebrew word nephesh, vpn. This word is usually translated "soul" in the Bible. The Greek word was Pneuma, pneu,ma the Latin word was spiritus.
The Hebrew word is usually translated soul in the Bible. The Latin word for Spirit is sometimes translated spirit and sometimes as soul. On other occasions these words are used to mean other things in mans immaterial nature. In the former use the spirit often denoted the vital principle of the body as something inferior to soul.
Some help is given in understanding the spirit of man by looking at other words that are used to convey the spirit of man or the spirit of God. Another Hebrew word is Ruaah, This word is used in Psalms 51:11; Isaiah 63:11, 12 to denote the divine power which like the wind cannot be perceived and by which animated beings live (Job 26:3; 33:4; Psalms 104:29).
It is this spirit by which all the universe is animated and filled with life (Job 26:13; Genesis 1:2; Psalms 33:6; Isaiah 34:16). It is also this spirit by which men are led to live both wisely (Job 32 8) and honestly (Psalms 51:13).
In general, from a word study it can be said that the soul is that rational immortal principle by which man was distinguished from the brute creation (Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59; I Corinthians 5:5; 6:20; 7:24; Hebrews 12:9).
RELATED WORD STUDY
Other related words help us to understand the meaning of spirituality. One is said to be spiritual if he is still governed by the spirit of God (I Corinthians 2:15; Galatians 6:1). In one sense of the word, any being made in the image of God is a spirit (John 4:24), and thus, having the nature of the spirit, is a spiritual being. On the other hand, we are told that we wrestle with the spiritual hosts of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12) in contradiction to beings clothed in "flesh and blood"--the devil and his angels. With the exception of the above reference, however, "spiritual" in the New Testament signifies moral, not physical, antithesis. Hence "spiritual" in this sense always presupposes the infusion of the Holy Spirit to quicken, and inform. It is opposed (a) to sarkikos, sa,pkikes 'fleshly' (I Corinthians 3:1), men of the flesh and not of the spirit; (b) to yu,cikes psuchicos, "natural," man in whom the pneu/ma pneuma, "spirit," is overridden, because of the fall, by yuch, principle of the animal life "soul" hence the unrenewed man, unspiritual, alienated from the life of God (I Corinthians 2:14; II Peter 2:12; Jude verse 10). And it is also opposed to (c) "natural" meaning physical, "...sown a natural body; . . raised a spiritual body" (I Corinthians 15:44).
In the New Testament and general use "spiritual" thus indicates man regenerated, indwelt, enlightened, endued, empowered guided by the Holy Spirit, conformed to the will of God, having the mind of Christ, living in and led by the spirit. The spiritual man is a new creation born from above (Romans 8:6; I Corinthians 2:15; 3:1; 14:37; Colossians 1:9; I Peter 2:5).
Beyond question of doubt there are among us those who mind things of the spirit. There are others who mind the things of the flesh. To be spiritually minded is life (Romans 8:6); to be carnally minded is death. These truths are pointed out in several scripture references. The Corinthians were to be zealous of the spirit (I Corinthians 12:31). Paul wanted to impart these spiritual gifts to the Romans (Romans 1:11). Certain things were hidden from the Corinthians because they are spiritually discerned (I Corinthians 2:14).
Other related words in common use made it very hard to define spirituality even in our own personal thoughts. To convey our impressions to others is even more difficult. For example, we use the word "spiritual" to describe a kind of religious song in use among negroes of the southern United States and distinguished by strongly-marked rhythm, which is frequently emphasized in singing or swaying or other motions, and by certain structural features and the graphic narrative method characteristic of the folk ballad. Probably some would object to these as probably not as spiritual as some other modes of expression.
On the other hand, there was a time in the thirteenth century, when a group among the Franciscans who adhered with great strictness to the rual of the founder, St. Francis, especially as to poverty were called "the Spirituals."
In a still different setting, we use the word "spiritualism" to describe the quality or state of being spiritual. At the same time we use the word "spiritualism" to describe a belief that departed spirits hold intercourse with mortals by means of phenomena, as by rapping, or during abnormal mental states, as in trances, or the like, commonly manifested through a medium; "spiritualisam" also is a word used to define the doctrines and practices of spiritualists.
Moreover, when we talk about spiritualizing we mean the act of rendering spiritual or of givmg a spiritual characteristic, or tendency to things of the world. This wordis commonly used to denote the act of taking something in a spiritual sense.
Idealists maintain that the essential nature of the universe is spirit; pantheist, that spirit pervades the universe. In this sense "spirit" denotes a quality of being similar to man's physical or vital nature and is conceived as a characteristic or nature of deity.
If we are correct in defining the spirit as a disposition or influence which fills or governs the soul of anyone then anything that pertains to the disposition of a person is properly described as part of the spirituality of that person. If the spirit is again the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, or desire (John 6:63) then those things which affect the power, affection, motion, or desire are those things which make up the spirituality of a man.
Scriptural language bears out these propositions. Particular endowments of the mind as that of an artificer (Exodus 31:3; 35:31) are given by the Spirit. The spirit of a prophet (Numbers 24:2; I Samuel 10:6; 10:19, 20, 23; Isaiah 42:1; 59:21) was then a part of the spirituality of the day. The spirit of an interpreter of dreams (Genesis 41:38) was given of God as a part of the spiritual relationship between man and God. The spirit of courage of a military leader (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25) made up the man's spirituality. The spirit of kingly virtues (Isaiah 11:2 ff.) was also a spiritual matter.
All of these considerations make up the essential nature of "spirituality."
II. The Need for Spirituality among Christian Leaders
Our interests betray the surface character of our living. We are interested in things but not in ideals, in methods rather than in meaning. We have a passion for what we call the practical and concrete. Schools for vocational training are out-distancing the educational institutions founded to build soul and character. Making a living or some idea of "happiness" seems to be the end of existence. Said one observer, "Harnessing Niagara is a greater feat and a greater service for civilization according to our standards than moral superiority, or learning to rule one's spirit" (H. A. Yountz, Supremacy of the Spiritual, pp.30, 31).
It is little wonder then that the real stumbling block in the way to a solution to the social problems is not an economic, political, or sociological one. The determining factor is the decision whether humanity is to be studied from a standpoint of nature or spirit. Is personality autonomous or automatic? Is the organism fundamental or instruments? Is man a child of nature or a son of God? Shall we interpret the spiritual by the natural or the natural by the spiritual or natural by natural and spiritual by spiritual? Shall we prefer an external control for men or an interior self-control? Our leaders whose spirituality we are consdering, stand at the cross-roads, facing these questions.
Our age is engaged in exploiting the natural resources of the world to an astonishing extent. We are capitalizing on its material, wealth, and power and are largely, oblivious to its vast, undiscovered spiritual resources. An age of steel is not apt to be pre-eminently an age of the spirit. The passionate hunger in our civilization is for power and possessions and we obtain these in abundance. Who can tell what spiritual resources will be amassed when the same heroic effort is spent in seeking the satisfaction of an equal spiritual hunger? We have attained scientific control and exploited the natural world; now we must attain spiritual control and exploit the resources of the personal world.
G. Campbell Morgan wrote in The Spirit of God as follows:
"The Holy Spirit must equip the preacher or preaching will degenerate into lifeless rhetoric or heartless argument" (p.285).
This is equally true of every form of Christian service. It is pre-eminently the day of organizations. Societies have multiplied on every hand, and the machinery of the church is complex and multitudinous. This may be cause for thankfulness, but it cannot too often be repeated, that apart form the Holy Spirit's control and direction, all is dead.
The advantages of the moment are not to be despised. Those who would go back to primitive simplicity must deny the guidance of God in the centuries. Let all be yielded to the fire and power of the Spirit for cleansing and energy, and the pulpit will be the greatest force in all human life, and every organization of the church will throb and pulsate with Divine energy.
We can see the hand of God in some developments, but altogether too often true that the hand of God is when there is too much emphasis on the things of the material world and there is much forgetting of the things of the spiritual world. One fine preacher said of a highly organized congregation that you could hear the whirr of the pulleys and the slap of the belts, but sometimes you could not hear the still small voice of God.
We must have men too much awed by the greatness of life to discuss minor issues in the pulpit. Ability to "run a Church" the familiar modern plan is a gift which is too commonly divorced from the ability to feed spiritually hungry people or to help thoughtful people to see the rational claims of spiritual livmg. Superficial evangelism is too often a cheap substitute for hard, vital thinking about spiritual reality.
Let this be said to any young person preparing for Christian leadership in a Christian circle as a leader: What you do and say will be far-reaching in effect. Countless numbers of people will look at you as an example and guide. If the time ever comes when your life fails to measure up, get out of a place of leadership completely. The church has been hurt immeasurably by people who have been pretenders--professing to live for Christ, but actually serving the devil.
As a matter of fact, the time has come when we must decide either to treat the Spiritual as merely an ornamental or sentimental anachronism or else give it a structural place in life's foundations. One of the greats needs of the hour is for a more profound thought-leadership, able to guide men to the assurance of the reality of everlasting life. We are tired of the superficial methods which the superficial results which have never been satisfactory to us are reached; we want profound insight. In our pulpits we need closer thinking more than almost anything else. In recent years, too many churches have yielded to the exigencies of the hour and called men who can "get results" to be their leaders. As Mr. Yountz "We are suffering now for lack of a thinking ministry, able to see life steadily and see it whole" (Ibid.).
III. Development of Spirituality
In 1935, William Temple wrote to the man who was later Dean of Westminster, when he had been appointed warden of the Bishop's Hostel, Lincoln: "You will use it as a base for what we need more than all else-to teach the clergy to be teachers of prayer. . ." (Martin Thornton, English Spirituality, p.3)
Ten years after the letter appeared, Dean Abbot was telling students that if they took moral and ascetical theology seriously and continued their own spiritual struggle, then he could promise that their ministry would be sought and used.
We can say the same thing today in America. We can put it in words that are perhaps more easily understood.
To Christian people who really want to be such as God would have them be, who are tired of all that is merely formal and mediocre, and are anxious to live in the will of God at all costs, there is no question of more importance than that of the conditions upon which the believer, born of the Spirit, may live that life which is filled with the Spirit. These conditions are of two-fold nature, the initial and the continuous--that by which blessing is realized, and that by which it is maintained.
The first step is that of abandonment. The second is that of abiding.
The word abandonment is used intentionally. Consecration is a great word, but it has been so much abused that it has lost much of its deepest significance. This word abandonment is perhaps out of the ordinary run of theological terms, but it is full of force. Wherever whole-hearted, absolute, unquestioning, positive, final abandonment of the life to God is seen, the life becomes filled with the Spirit. The thought is contained in the words of Paul: "Neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13). The whole life according to this concept is to be handed over to the control of God in order that through that life His will may be realized, His work may be done, His plans may be carried out. That is the abandoned life (Ephesians 4:30,31; Romans 12:1).
The theory sounds easy. The is a very different thing. At the same time it is very definite. The life which is thus abandoned to God for the filling of the Spirit is a life that has given up its own plans, and purposes, and hopes and has taken instead the plan, and the purpose, and the hope of God.
This is a normal condition of the believer. When a man is baptized Christ, he is born of the water and of the spirit. He is filled with the Spirit. It follows, therefore, that the will of God for His people is that they should be filled at once. There is no reason from God's viewpoint why a man should not go immediately from the moment of regeneration into all the blessedness of the Spirit-filled life. This is the Divine intention. The question is not one of condition, but of finality. The of growth is that the believer should be Spirit-filled.
As a matter of practice, many of us have known those who have entered into the Christian ministry immediately after accepting Christ as their Savior. Some of the most oustanding ministers in the midst of the churches of Christ and Christian churches are those, who have been won for Christ very late in life and have entered with all the zeal that was once given to the things of the flesh into a life where this same zeal is given to the things of the spirit. Others of us are those who have grown more slowly and less perfectly to the stature of the Spirit that is within us.
In passing we should say that there is a portion of scripture that demands attention. Paul wrote this: "Be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The injunction, be filled with the Spirit, is in the imperative. It is a command; and the fact that it is a command; lays responsibility not on God, but upon the believer. In the commencement of the epistle the whole scheme of thought which was here in the mind of the apostle is stated; "In whom ye also having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in Whom having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise which is an earnest of our own inheritance" (Ephesians 1:13, 14). The sealing of the Holy Spirit takes place at the baptism of the Christian. The apostle is writing to people who are sealed with the spirit, and he charges them to be filled with the Spirit. They are born of the Spirit, and none will deny that they are Christians. They are not, however, filled with the Spirit, for the fruit of the Spirit is not manifest in their lives. As G. Campbell Morgan says: "In every child of God the Spirit is present, waiting to fill; and if He does not fill the whole life to its utmost bound with His own energy, light, and power, it is because there is something which prevents Him, and which must be removed before He can do His blessed work" (Op. cit., p.195).
New privileges always bring new responsibilites; and it follows necessarily and naturally, that these new responsibilities create new perils. Christian leaders face the perils of resisting, grieving, and quenching the Spirit. The three aspects of the Spirit's work, regeneration and equipment, reveal the perils of this present dispensation (cf. John 3:7; 4:14; 7:38; Acts 7:51). In reference to regeneration the peril is marked by the word resist. In reference to indwelling the peril is marked by the word quench. The third and last peril is that described in these words: "Quench not the Spirit" (I Thessalonians 5:19). The word quench has no reference to the indwelling of the Spirit for life and development in the believer. It refers wholly to His presence as a power in service.
The words themselves are suggestive. To resist presupposes the coming of the Holy Spirit to storm the citadel of the soul. To grieve presupposes the residence of the Spirit as the Comforter within. The word quench presupposes the presence of the Spirit as a fire.
Much quenching of the Holy Spirit has come by service that does not wait but rushes, and by the burning of false fires upon the altars of God. The attempt to carry on the work of the kingdom of God by worldly means, the perpetual desecration of holy things by alliance with things that are unholy, the pressing of Mammon into the service of God, and the forgetting of the things of the Spirit have meant the quenching of the Spirit; for God will never allow such strange fires to burn on the altar where only the fire of the Holy Spirit is to burn brightly.
Many men have lost their gift of power in service and have become barren of results in their work for God because they have prostituted a heavenly gift to sordid selfish service, to the glorification of their own lives instead of exercising the gift only for its true end, the glory of God. Many men have perpetually quenched the Spirit by attempting to work in their own strength, hoping that God would step in and make up what they lacked.
God will not come and help men to do their work. He asks that they should give themselves to Him for the doing of His work.
As Morgan has said, "The Spirit is quenched by disloyalty to Christ, or when His gift is used for any other purposes than that upon which the heart of God is set. Resist not, grieve not, quench not the Spirit!" (Op. cit., pp.245, 246).
This brings us to the point of personal responsibility. The whole study culminates here for the individual. That Divine Spirit, who worked in creation, who was the Spirit of revelation and of service through every age, dwells now in each believer. The question is whether or not He is indwelling in all His fullness.
Morgan asks, "Is He grieved and quenched by disloyalty to His government? If that has been the case hitherto, let the whole life be yielded to Him, that He may reproduce the Master Himself, to the glory of God, and for the good of men" (Ibid.).
Any spiritual experience that falls short of self-giving in the interest of others and for the sake of Christ is religiously unsound because it is contrary to the New Testament emphasis. It is particularly contrary to the book of James. Here the Word of God emphasizes in clear terms that faith without works is dead. Faith must be expressed in useful activity; or else, like a pond that has no outlet, it becomes stagnant. Many great Christian giants whose lives have shown a degree of spirituality seldom reached by others have said that it is in their service to others that their own spiritual natures have grown the fastest. Calls made on unrepentant sinners in an attempt to reach their hearts with the call of the Gospel have resulted in the humbling of the spirits of many personal evangelists. Long waits by the bedsides of Christian saints who are going across the moving tide to Canaan's shore have made many Christian ministers more sure of the realities of the never-dying spiritual life and much less concerned with the humdrum of this present life.
Furthermore, all of this activity must be performed in conformity to the Word of God. The Word of God, however, is not something that we grasp; it is something that grasps us. It is something which we study, but it is something that permeates our being. The Word of God may be filled with hidden truths which we ferret out by never-ending study; but when its truths are hidden in the heart of a spiritually growing student, it makes student to be of such nature that he may not sin against God.
Thus the colleges committed to a rationalistic,critical view of Scripture have broken down the synthesis. They have honored humanism or liberal arts but have failed to recognize the depth, the vitality, the power, the authority of the written Word of God and are in no position to help the development of true spirituality in our countrys leaders.
In this connection it maybe an amazing revelation to learn that in a Bible test given to 18,344 high-school students, it was found that they were amazingly ignorant of the greatest Book in the World, most of them missing even the simplest questions. Approximately 10,000 of them could not name three of the Twelve Apostles; 12,000 could not tell the names of the four Gospels; and 16,000 could not name three Old Testament prophets. Other tests have shown that adults equally deficient in Bible knowledge, the majority of them not being able to do more than repeat the Model Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Twenty-third Psalm. (see J. Vernon Jacobs, Ten Steps to Leadership, p.58).
It is true that the spiritual life requires more than the ability to recall facts; but without Bible facts as a background, there will never be any development of genuine spiritual life. It is tremendously important therefore that Christian leaders not only be familiar with the Bible but that they completely master its contents and be mastered by it.
Hence the difference between the Spirit-filled life and the that is not filled with the spirit is the difference between a abandoned wholly to the will of God and a life that wants to have its own way and please God too. The abandoned life manifests itself in the study of the Word of God, the acceptance of its truths and the performing of its commands. The Spirit-filled life is a life of prayer bringing glory to the God revealed on the pages of the Bible, the God in whose service the Christian deeds are performed.
Men are quite prepared to sign pledges, to do any amount of work, even to sign checks and give money if only God will let them have their own way somewhere in their lives. If He will not press this business of keeping His commandments, if He will not bring them to the cross, they will do anything; but they draw back from the place of death to self. Yet it is only in that place that the Holy Spirit is able to flow out into every part of the life and energize it, until in all conduct Jesus is crowned Lord, and the fruit of the Spirit is manifest in Christian character. Nothing can take the place of this crucifixion of self. It is the first step to the development of real spirituality.
Moreover, nothing can take the place of obedience. Some attempt to put prayer where God has put obedience. Others profess to be awaiting the time when God is willing to fill them. Both are wrong! While they think they are waiting for God, the fact is God is waiting for them. While they are praying that God's will be done in their lives, He is asking them to perform His will through their lives.
It is here, furthermore, that the idea of abiding in Christ enters the process of development. A great deal has been said about the abiding Spirit in the Christian's life. Many have variously defined the state. Some of the definitions have been mystical. Many are poetical, and yet for the most part they are out of the reach of the ordinary life of the believer.
It is well, where possible, to have definitions of Scriptural ideas in Scriptural language; and John gives a definition of what it is to abide in Christ "He that keepeth His commandments abideth in Him, and He in him" (I John 3:24).
Let us apply this idea to the place of prayer in the spiritual life of the Christian leader. It is a man's duty to pray. William Long says, "With regard to prayer it is as much your duty to rise to pray as it is to pray when you are risen. And if you are late in your prayers, you offer to God the prayers of an idle, slothful worshipper who rises to prayers as idle servants rise to their labor" (A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, p.91).
Bernard Ramm says: "It is the most natural thing in the world for men to turn to Him who is the Father of their spirits and humbly ask His help, even as children turn to their earthly parents in time of need. The doctor administers his drugs, and then prays that the healing power of God may use them in bringing about recovery of health. The farmer plants his seeds, but knows they will rot in the ground unless the life-giving power of the Creator begins to work on them. The scientist works over his test tubes, praying that the Spirit may lead him to the fight formula. The teacher prays for understanding that he may be able to teach the truth in its fullness. The statesman prays for wisdom from above, that his nation will not have to resort to subterfuge and trickery in dealing with others. The minister prays that God may take his feeble words and transform them into instruments of power, striking responsive chords in the hearts of others, leading them to make right decisions: ("Roots of Christian Humanism," Christianity Today, pp. 31, 82).
All the prayers of a man's life, however, are sounding brass and tinkling cymbals unless the man couples heartfelt obedience with his prayers. It is in this coupling of obedience to Christ's commandments, the i performance of acts of Christian love, and the continuance in prayers that the Christian leader abides in Christ.
Sometimes we call our prayer life and our Bible reading the devotions of our life. Devotion is nothing but right apprehension and right affections toward God. All practices, therefore, that heighten and improve our true apprehensions of God, all the ways of life that tend to nourish, raise, and fix our affections upon Him are to be reckoned as helps and means to feed our spiritual nature.
On the other hand, a danger arises from excessive practicing of any deed regardless of the spiritual nature of it. It is possible that the Christian leader will become swamped with activities. To guard against this danger, Mr. Ramm said this: "You, as a leader, should find a quiet time each day when you can do some constructive thinking, for great thoughts do not break through in midst of hubbub" (Op. cit., p.105).
Yet a definite attempt should be made to develop a truly spiritual nature. Observation of progress should be made from time to time. A program of improvement should be mapped out. A check-list of achievements should be kept. One writer gave this outline: "First, we take God into common life by trusting Him as the branch relies upon the vine. . .
"Secondly, we can live daily with God by helpfulness as natural as the fruitage of the tree . . .
"Thirdly, we can live daily with God by cleansing our lives of evil as the husbandman prunes the dead and fruitless branches from the vine. . .
"Fourthly, we may live daily with God by conforming to His will as the branches obey the pattern of the tree. . .
"How to live daily with God? Be as trustful as fruitful, as clean, and as purposeful as the vine; then you shall live in Him and He in you . . ." (C. H. Heinsath, Sermons on the Inner Life pp.63-72).
The development of spirituality among Christian leaders was on the mind of the apostle Peter when he wrote this injunction; "Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter 1:5, 6).
A WORD OF WARNING
A vital mistake is made by persons who formulate a code of sensations and wait for them as evidences of the Spirit's filling. In like manner, those who expect to achieve spiritual maturity by a given set of exercises will also be disappointed. Those who expect a magnetic thrill and those who await an overwhelming ecstasy will often wait in vain together. These experiences may be realized; they may be utterly absent.
Others wait for an experience like that of someone else. That they will never have. There are many people who have read the lives of good men and expect to realize just what these men describe. Such hopes are doomed to disappointment. It may safely be said that the achievement of a degree of spirituality is in no two cases exactly identical any more than the consciousness of ordinary life can never be the same in any two persons.
"There are diversities of workings, but the same God" (I Corinthians 12:6). One may understand and manage animals best in groups, but each individual man requires separate classification and his inner self-determining capacity introduces an element of not completely accounted for in any biological scheme. It is certain that all quantitative schemes of measurement, of predicting the future, of reducing spiritual data to a common denominator, must forever fail. Mechanical cause and effect cannot explain self-sacrifice, character, and Christian commitment.
Christian commitment in the ministry reveals this form of Christian leadership as a calling both varied and humbling. After years of training in the Scriptures, in theology, in the discipline of scholarship and in the understanding of human beings, to be a minister of the Gospel which is a 'savor of life unto life and of death unto death' is a task which calls a person to daily dependence upon God in a peculiar way. Therefore those who are interested in the educating of ministers are interested most of all in the developing of spiritual giants. Elementary and higher education are deeply concerned with the training of gifted youth, those students of superior intellectual promise; but in another and far different sense the theological seminary is also engaged in the education of the gifted, the man who has a gift from God the woman who has been given a talent by God.
It is a wise Christian leader who knows his gift and who cultivates it to the glory of God and the edifying of believers. If the Lord has endowed a person as a pastor, a teacher, an evangelist, or a prophet, then it is that person's responsibility to develop the gift. Some young people in Christian colleges may not yet know beyond a doubt what their gifts are; but the Lord, who has called them to His service will surely make this plain in the proving ground of experience. As the gifts become plain, the leader in training will recognize the appointed fields of concentration that are essential parts of every leader's life.
Still, in all worthwhile preparation the spiritual life of the man and the woman who are to become leaders will be the most essential element. May the best efforts be given to the development of the spiritual life of Christian leaders.
In the third movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony there is a passage built on what musicians call an organ point, a tone long sustained, measure after measure. In this case the organ point is "A," the note to which all the instruments of the orchestra are tuned. Over it Beethoven quotes an old Austrian pilgrim hymn. First the "A" sounds softly; then, as the hymn sounds over it, the "A" grows louder until finally the brasses join in a veritable blaze of tone. It is one of the great moments in music.
There are indeed various aspects of the ministry. Christ gives men different gifts. The spiritual "A," the central "A," the central point of reference to which all else is related, the purpose always to be kept in mind and heart in the work of the ministry is nothing less than the growth and unity of the body of Christ unto mature manhood, even unto the full stature of Christ, as each individual growth determines the growth of the whole!
Betteridge, Harold T. (ed.) The New Cassell's German Dictionary. New York Funk and Wagnalls, 1958.
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Scanned; Michael Riggs
Edited: Shelley Wozniak