Francis Schaeffer on Spiritual Leadership
In a letter to a friend Francis Schaeffer wrote the following.
I am more and more realizing that Scripturally none of us are ready for leadership until we come to the place before the Lord where we are really ready for His will—regardless of what it is—and therefore, of ourselves, we would prefer not to have the leadership, or at least be neutral concerning it. It is out of such stuff that true Christian leadership can come.
At this time in Schaeffer’s life, he was wrestling through an awakening of sorts. For years, he had spent much energy and focus on separating himself, along with many others, against the liberal Christian movement in the United States. He and his friends had the doctrine right. They held closely to orthodox beliefs and fought tooth and nail to protect and advance what the Bible actually said. But as the distance grew between those events and his current ministry in Switzerland, Schaeffer began to realize that much of the fighting they did had been done without the spirituality that would have made it most effective. The theology was correct but there was a deep lack of love for the other party, and therefore, a lack of true love for God.
In the same letter, he goes on to say something about how this focus on right doctrine created a void among the people whom he was fighting with.
I have been thinking and thinking: can you think of any American who has written really deep devotional literature? And can you think of anyone in our separationist movement in America who has written devotional literature that really is deep in its contact with the heart? When you read Bonar, Murray, and so on, there is an impact that one never forgets. I wonder who among our men has written anything even looking in this direction.
For Schaeffer, spiritual leadership was comprised of two things. First, spiritual leadership maintained a neutral outlook on leadership itself. If God gave it, accept it, but do not believe you are ready for it on your own terms. God will give it—or he won’t—based on his will alone. It is only the open-hearted man before God who can lead God’s people to God’s Promised Land. Second, spiritual leadership held closely to gospel doctrine without forsaking gospel culture. The devotional life was not something one gets to in the course of life as a leader; it is the life of the leader. One way we can tell where our allegiance really lies—in the pursuit of being right or in the pursuit of God’s glory—is the amount of devotional literature, preaching, thinking, and talking that rises from our midst. If the heart is deadened to God, even if the theology is technically correct, it is a dead orthodoxy.
God did not only put the bones back in order as Ezekiel stood there in that dry valley. He also brought the wind, bringing resurrection life where death reigned. Where is the wind in our day? Let’s ask God for an increase.