Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

July 2006
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Our Outward Ministry: The Reflection of Our Inner Life

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

In response to our last Letter, one of our Asian friends wrote the following:

Last night I received Leadership Letter 91 – The Preeminence and Centrality of Jesus Christ in Christian Leadership. As I read the teaching, and thought of all that the Lord has been teaching me lately, I wept. I’m learning how important it is that my life totally depends on Him and draws from Him. He then gave me a song that sings the cry of my heart:

You are the vine, I’m a branch,
Please connect me tightly to you.
May your cord of love bind my heart to you,
That I may not go far astray.

Dear Lord, the Potter of my life,
Your love has conquered my heart.
May you mold me and carve me,
That I may be like you.

When a leader builds his inner life in Christ first, then his whole ministry will change. The following are the words of DeVern Fromke:

…as Christ is built into the inner fabric it will be evident that only He is material for spiritual building…We must realize that there can never be any greater ministry outwardly than what has been wrought within our inner man…If there is a proper foundation laid in us, then we will produce that foundation in others. If there is a proper spiritual building going up in us, then we will produce that same building in others. Our outward ministry is actually the reflection of our inner life.

Paul seemed to understand this principle when he wrote to the Corinthians. We have quoted his statement: “I have laid a foundation.” Now he continues by saying, “But any man who builds on the foundation using as his material gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, must know that each man’s work will one day be shown for what it is” (1 Cor. 3: 10).

God may allow our life-work to stand momentarily, but He will not allow anything which is not proper building material to remain on the foundation. I can almost hear Him saying to some of those who are now building, “You may spend your whole life on that, but it will all go up in smoke. It is not suitable building material; it is not some thing of Christ which I have wrought by the Spirit into lives.”

What is this wood, hay and stubble which God will not allow as building material? One may look at pastors who have spent years in gathering people in their congregation. To the visible eye it looks like something has been done. Yet God sees the human energies of man without the help of the Spirit and announces: “This is just a pile of boards. I cannot accept them unless they are overlaid with gold. And this overlaying is not of man, but a work of the Spirit.” God is forced to announce: “Have I not told you I cannot have this on my Foundation for it is something wrought of man. It is too earthy. I must have gold which I have wrought through pressure, through fire, through purifying.”

Again, we have seen men build knowledge, doctrine, theology into people. Yet in the hour of real pressure all that has not been translated into reality will not hold them. It is like hay and stubble they have been feeding upon, and this can never nourish the inner man nor become building material for God. Recently I heard a brother, who had been an outstanding Bible teacher for 15 years, share the deepest confession of his heart: “All I have known has only puffed me up, but it has not built me up in the inner life. Outwardly I am a builder, but inwardly I am a shambles. I, myself, have been feeding upon mere hay and feeding it to others.”

In our next Letter, we will look more closely at the wood, hay and stubble that result from leadership that does not proceed from inner union with Christ.

From No Other Foundation, pp. 11-12.

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