Accepting the Responsibility of Godly Leadership in Uncertain Times
by David Sliker
Training and Events
The Body of Christ is currently experiencing one of the most dramatic upheavals in recent church history. We are witnessing significant leadership transitions, gut-wrenching and far-reaching scandals, faith deconstructions, and much, much more turbulence and trials in the Church all around the world—all in a relatively short period of time. The global shaking of the Church is happening independently from—yet still deeply connected to—economic and political crisis, geopolitical conflict, rumors of growing conflict, racial tensions, social upheaval, and beyond, on a scale that few in this generation can recall in living memory. Has there been a moment over the past few centuries quite like the one we are witnessing currently? The Church is going through one of the most dramatic global transitions in its 2000-year history at the exact same moment in time that the world is experiencing one of its most traumatic transitional moments across cultures, national boundaries, and ethnic groups.
As incredible as these times are, just beneath the surface of it all and beyond the notice of most of the earth lies a crisis of leadership sufficient to meet the challenge of leading and stewarding the world we now inhabit. Thousands of years ago, King David captured this tragedy in Psalm 12.
Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (vv. 1–2)
It is incredible to see a song written thousands of years ago by King David about the idle chatter of faithless and deceitful men and his lament about the disappearance of the godly man. It could have been written about the political madness that has gripped the West—the social-media-driven idle speech of the fearful and powerless who refuse to cry out to God for mercy. Our lost generation seeks to argue across internet spaces while the world burns around them. From within the Church, scandal and abuse are being exposed, victimizers are being dismissed, elders are aging and in transition, weary and lonely pastors are resigning in record numbers, and a leadership vacuum of trustworthy, godly men and women is slowly growing across the world. While the world focuses on the issues and the politics, King David had the foresight to see the greatest challenge in laying hold of the future and the promises of God. He saw a world doomed by faithless, flattering, ineffective leaders with questionable character, unable to meet the challenge of the times with a prophetic spirit and a faithful heart.
Whether we like it or not, a new generation of saints is being forced to take the baton of ministry service and stewardship of the Church, rising up to lay hold of reluctant leadership during these fateful hours of history. An uncertain and unpredictable world is being handed to the next generation of young leaders, preachers, intercessors, priests, and servants of the gospel. Almost every leader I know stepping into a new sphere of responsibility and authority is met with the interior doubt that gnaws on their soul with relentless persistence. They’ve seen how things have gone for the last group of leaders that led from within the traditional constructs; they’ve now seen how things have unfolded for the ones that tried to blaze new trails. They’ve heard or read all of the ideas and strategies. They attended the conferences. They brought back the training manuals.
Nothing could have prepared them for the world that they now have to serve and lead within. The world, as it is, seems almost impossible to succeed in. Positive faith messaging, back-slapping mentors, and enthusiastic messaging fueled them for a moment, but then everything changed, and the world exploded around them. They now quietly wonder if they have what it takes to serve the purposes of God in their generation. As they look around, they are seeing many of their peers and leaders step down, accepting that ministry didn’t quite work out as they hoped that it would. Others are being forced out, or exposed, to the devastation of many, and sincere young leaders are left behind to pick up the pieces.
It is understandably overwhelming all that is happening everywhere, all at once. Yet these times have not caught Jesus, the Great Shepherd and Leader of the Church, off guard. He is not unaware, disconnected, or uninvolved. He set things in motion long ago that have set the Church and this world on the trajectory they are on, and He is stirring young prophetic voices, missionaries, ministers, musicians, and more to answer His call to step into His grace and wisdom. He has a plan to establish His leaders and servants in something far stronger than the spirit of the age. He will not fail those who answer His call with humility, seeking a deep life in abiding love and prayer with sound character and vibrant life in His Spirit as their highest priority. He has a promise for any who will not shrink back from the stewardship and leadership that are being demanded from all of us who love Him during these uncertain times. It can be found in James 1.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (vv. 2–8, emphasis mine)
Here we see the opposite of King David’s lament in Psalm 12:1–2. The godly man is the one who is faithful to persevere and lean into God as His help and resource in unstable times. Specifically, James advocates for the resource of wisdom as our riches and strength in times of uncertainty and great need. Wisdom is the stabilizing force that propels the godly man into faithfulness in his God-given assignment. Wisdom from heaven is the resource that is stronger than the foolishness of a world on fire. In an hour in which a new generation of leaders are stepping into new realms of influence, opportunity, risk, and danger, there is the peaceable, gentle, merciful, and fruitful resource of wisdom from above (James 3:17). We need godly leaders, young and old, male and female. We need them to rise up and accept the responsibility of leading and serving the saints of God in times such as these, with even greater challenges yet to come.
Once they do, we need them to carve out a life in prayer and pursuit of depth in the Word of God that open up an unlimited fountain of wisdom over their lives and their ministry assignments. We need the ample supply of wisdom from above, born of heaven, tempered in meekness, and fruitful in the hearts and families of those we are called to serve. We lay hold of this wisdom in humility as we draw near and serve one another, growing together. There is great hope for a glorious future for the Church in incredibly challenging times. While the hour is late and darkness is growing darker, we are not without hope or even joy when we consider the skillful, beautiful leadership of the Church expressed by Jesus. As more and more new leaders say yes to Jesus again, they do so in faith that their obedience will be met by the offer of unlimited wisdom from Jesus if they choose to seek it out.
Some leaders of the previous generation spurned the offer of wisdom from heaven. I have great confidence, however, that a new kind of leader is emerging that will hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness and wisdom above every earthly ambition or reward. I think that you—regardless of your own opinion of yourself—can be that kind of leader. What kind? The kind of leader that serves, loves, and risks because it moves the heart of Jesus deeply when you do.
What type of leader do you want to be and how can you grow into one?
If you’re seeking a place to gather with like-minded leaders and followers of Christ, we invite you to the RETURN conference, a hybrid in-person and online event in Kansas City, taking place now through September. Join with others that are pursuing the message of Jesus over everything and seeking His wisdom and power for the end times. Learn more >>
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David Sliker has been a senior leader at the International House of Prayer Missions Base in Kansas City, Missouri, for the past 20 years. Ministering and serving with his wife, Tracey, and their four children, Riley, Lauren, Daniel, and Finney, David’s primary ministry calling is as an intercessor. Additionally, he ministers internationally, equipping saints in prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit, passion for the Word of God, and the proclamation of Jesus’ return. He is the president of International House of Prayer University, where he teaches about prayer and intimacy with Jesus, missions, biblical studies, and the return of Jesus. He is the author of End-Times Simplified: Preparing Your Heart for the Coming Storm, The Nations Rage: Prayer, Promise, and Power in an Anti-Christian Age, and The Triumph of Beauty: God’s Radiant Answer to the World’s Growing Darkness.