Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

May 2002
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God Does Not Want Your Training; He Wants You!

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

A veteran has warned:

Perhaps a large part of our trouble is that we tend to think of training as something of itself, a period of time, certain courses taken, a degree earned, abilities and qualifications that can be listed and enumerated on paper, so many credit hours, rather than as something that happened to us.
The emphasis should rather be on the man trained and his growth in maturity and in the capacity to apply what he has learned to new situations. Of itself training is nothing. It is the trained man that God uses. And God’s own training may include both formal and informal education.Nor is the most fundamental training ever gained by proxy, reading about what God did in someone else. It is found in personally being put through the crucible of experience, fashioned and molded by His hand. The training that has value is that which enters into our make-up, fashions our attitudes, matures our thinking. We tend to include as part of our training much exposure to knowledge which effects no essential and lasting change in us. (G. M. Cowan)

In the past fifteen years I have met scores of young people who have given their training to the Lord, yet reserved themselves for themselves! It is one of the most subtle snares in our training today. Musicians want to give their developed abilities to God. Mechanics, doctors, teachers, nurses, linguists, pilots and even preachers – all want to dedicate their training unto Him for His service. It just seems right and proper, so we have become accustomed to this procedure. Bible colleges and seminaries turn out graduates by the hundreds who are professionally trained for service. Yet amid all this, we have an inner hesitancy and a gnawing conviction: something is wrong.

There can be no doubt but that God is concerned with training. The question is this: what kind of training? We must discover the difference between natural and spiritual preparation.

We read that Moses “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” Philo credited Moses with proficiency in arithmetic, geometry, poetry, music, philosophy, astrology and various branches of education. Officially recognized as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, with the best education of his day, Moses had every right to dream his dreams of a great career in Egypt, in the field of his training. He could serve both his people and his God.

We know then what a momentous choice it was for Moses, when he “was come to years,” to renounce his favored position as son of the Palace, with all the social pleasures, the political privileges of his set, and “the treasures in Egypt.” If we could have our way with him, we would rush him into a new sphere of service for God. Or better still, we would rush him off to Bible school for some specialized training in Christian work.

But here is the snare! There is many a “Moses” who has just come from Bible school and is wholly trained in the religious methods of our day. He has passed the courses on how to do it. How to promote a successful Sunday School. How to develop an adequate music program.

And having learned in homiletics how to preach, or in speech class how to hold the audience spell-bound, he is now ready to enter the ministry. But I wonder if this is not the very juncture where Moses stood? God would remind us that whatever our professional or formal training may be – He has a special course in spiritual preparation. Is Moses willing to enroll in the divine school of hard and humbling work, in solitude, adversity, danger, defeat, misunderstanding, slander and humiliation? It is not surprising that the man who emerged from the wilderness schoolroom was a man of great meekness, faith and faithfulness, spiritual boldness and intimacy with God.

Moses must have known he was called as Israel’s deliverer. Did he ever wonder about wasting his training as he minded Jethro’s sheep in Midian? George M. Cowan has suggested:

It was Moses the man, the product of all his training, that God used. Formal training seems to fade into the background as a matter of prime importance. Before God could use him, He had to break him – position, prestige, power, training: all had to go on the altar with life itself. Then God used him, including his training, in ways His own wisdom deemed best. Who else could have challenged the wise men of Egypt, explained and applied the God-given moral, social and practical laws to a people raised in Egypt, as did Moses? God used his training, but there is absolutely no hint that this was any part of God’s argument in guiding Moses into a knowledge of, and willingness to do, His will. Moses had already turned his back on all before God used him and it.

This is God’s way. He asks us to yield our training to Him, not to be used – but to go into death. Then out of that awful losing our natural abilities and (even) religious training, He brings us into life. Thus He puts all our training into a totally new perspective.

May the Spirit of revelation help us to see that God only wants us. Our training – religious and even spiritual – He takes into death that out of resurrection He might bring forth a totally new kind of Spirit-wrought development and thus a spiritual ministry and service unto God.

(From No Other Foundation by DeVern Fromke)

This month’s recommended web page is Noble Masculinity: An Interview with Robert Lewis. To rescue families, Robert Lewis is calling men and fathers to a higher standard. “A real man is one who rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously, and expects the greater reward, God’s reward.”

This month’s recommended book is When the Spirit’s Fire Swept Korea by Jonathan Goforth. First hand account of the Korean revival of 1907.

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