Read the description of BB-8, the droid machine of the new Star Wars epic The Force Awakens and you'd think the techie geniuses who designed him used a pastor template as their blueprint. Special effects artist Neal Scanlan at Disney Research described BB-8 in this way---
We always imagined BB-8 as being quite manipulative. I think he knows he’s
cute. He knows that he can win people over. And he uses that like children do to
get his own way. In this film, he has a very important mission that he has to
accomplish and so he uses his personality, his coyness, and all of those things.
Ooops and ouch in the same breath! Sounds like they were describing me at times, and, I suppose most spiritual leaders in some of the more unique situations of church life. But, every day looking at the man in the mirror I know I'm not a remote controlled robotic unit or an astromech droid. There were always leadership challenges that might have been handled better by an automaton than a mere mortal, especially one with my limited skill parameters. But, being equipped to lead in these or any other times is more than circuits, programmed responses, pre-determined maneuvers, or packaged down- loads. In spiritual leadership the heart is equipment one. Spiritual leaders must have a heart for what they are called to do.
Henry and Richard Blackaby identified the role of a spiritual leader (Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda, B and H Books, Nashville: 2001) in their book sub-title. The spiritual leader must lead people on to God's agenda. This definition pre-supposes an awareness of God's agenda and the heart to make that agenda item one on the leadership to-do list. Since there are so many heart passages in Scripture and so many different directions is applying them to the roles of spiritual leadership, let me summarize my take on them all in several important themes:
1. Heart is my love and passion for God.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and
with all your mind. Matthew 22:37, ESV
2. Heart is central to what I do and what I say.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23, ESV
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a
Matthew 15:18, ESV
3. My heart must remain soft and humble before the Lord.
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Hebrews 3:7-9, ESV
4. The heart of a spiritual leader must be steadfast.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness
2 Thessalonians 3:5, ESV
5. My spiritual life must be renewed day by day.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is
being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV
Much is certainly written about the heart of a spiritual leader, and most are more concise and on-point that anything I could produce. But, this last item is the central theme for me in 2016. Yes, I quoted 2 Corinthians 4:16 because I consider the Apostle Paul to have been one of the choice spiritual leaders in history. His written words are so personal because they expressed his own struggles, inspiring responses to hardship, and a crucible of spiritual leadership few of us will ever know. When he used "we" in these verses, he was confessing the intensity of his situation. He wrote it clearly, "So we do not lose heart". You see, many spiritual leaders do actually lose heart, you know, the sense of urgency and passion about what they are doing. In the grueling demands of these times many brothers and sisters in ministry service are discouraged and frustrated.
So, my prayer for all spiritual leaders in 2016 is twofold: that we will be renewed in the inner self---the heart---day by day and therefore keep a strong heart for the privilege of representing Him in these times; and, that colleagues with the heart of Philemon will be rasied up to encourage those who are close to losing heart. Here's what Paul wrote about him---
For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because
the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Philemon 1:7, ESV
Being equipped to lead begins in the heart.