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This month could be called a very difficult time in the history of our church. We are walking under a fresh wave of persecution that erupted on the 3rd of this month. Persecution is definitely not something pleasant. Yet I am glad that God permitted me to walk through it and in this sermon I am going to tell you why?
In my desperate search for direction from God in this situation the Holy Spirit led me to the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer where I learned a couple of practical principles that every leader should know if they want to lead in times of crisis. Lets see how a young warrior called Jonathan lead through a time of crisis?
1. Jonathan took an initiative
A. Jonathan stepped out in faith and convinced his armor bearer to do the same. In the first strike alone they slaughtered 20 Philistines (1 Samuel 14:1;14)
B. The Lord honored their bold move by sending a panic upon the enemy, confusing them that they killed each other, shaking the earth and sending king Saul and his 600 warriors to aid, (1 Samuel 14:15;20-22)
C. Once again the Lord miraculously saved Israel, (1 Samuel 14:23). It all started with one man who dared to take an initiative!
2. Jonathan had a loyal helper
A. Loyalty is the greatest asset of any leader in times of crisis
B. The armor bearer’s statement recorded in 1 Samuel 14:6-7 shows the extent of his loyalty
C. Armor bearers in ancient times had to be unusually brave and loyal, since the lives of their masters often depended on them
D. The function of Jonathan’s armor bearer was especially important because of the scarcity of weapons in Israel
3. Jonathan was a leader with sound discernment
A. The leader is God’s chosen channel for providing direction
B. It’s Jonathan that introduced the sign and its sequel, (1 Samuel 14:8-10). He instructed the armor bearer about what to do and when
C. Leaders are responsible for making sound decisions and guiding the followers even in times of crisis
4. Jonathan remembered his identity
A. Jonathan said to his armor bearer “Lets cross over to the camp of those uncircumcised philistines” (1 Samuel 14:6)
B. Had King Saul remembered his identity in God, he could have marched forward and attacked the enemy instead of sitting back with 600 warriors, wasting time, (1 Samuel 14:2)
C. Jonathan was different. He remembered that he indeed is an individual from God’s chosen nation. He believed that God will fight for him
A. The leader must be a man of initiative
I. Procrastination is the most powerful enemy of the church. Not persecution
II. Leaders must not procrastinate. Must not wait until everything becomes perfect before moving forward, (1 Samuel 14:9b). He should identify God’s move even when things are not in perfect shape and step out in faith.
III. Once he takes the first step and start moving forward everything else becomes clearer and easier. New opportunities spring up, (1 Samuel 14:21). Remember, God will not move until you start moving
IV. “Attempt great things for God – expect great things from God” – William Carey
B. The leader must earn loyalty
I. Loyalty is a leader’s greatest asset. Jonathan would have never crowned over the enemy if it wasn’t for his loyal armor bearer
II. Today loyalty is a very rare virtue in the church as well as in the world. A congregation not loyal to leadership poses an internal threat to the church. Internal threats are more destructive than external threats
III. Loyalty is something that you earn. You receive loyalty only once you earn the trust of your followers. Remember, you can’t earn your followers’ trust over night. It takes a life time.
C. The leader must exercise sound discernment
I. The leader is God’s channel for providing directions. Making decisions in times of crisis require discernment and sound judgment.
II. All the great warriors in the Bible discerned the Lord before marching to Battle, (Ex: Gideon, David)
III. The leader needs to walk with God regularly because sound discernment is not enlightenment that occurs out of the blue. It flaws only from wisdom and wisdom can be gained only through fear of God, (Proverbs 9:10)
D. The leader must remember his identity in Christ
I. The leader who forgets his identity in Christ in times of crisis aims to fail because he is subject to be controlled by fear and confusion
II. It’s obvious that great men in the Bible at times of crisis found their strength through their identity in the Lord, (Ex: David referred to Goliath as an uncircumcised Philistine)
III. We are not serving a master who doesn’t care for us. Jesus said, he will be with us to the end of the age, (Matthew 28:20)
Every leader should be able to lead in times of crisis as well as in times of comfort. Crisis, persecution and times of uncertainty are inevitable in Christian ministry. How you lead through these, defines what type of a leader you are.