Randy Howard | Cleveland, Tennessee
Let’s jump into this idea of Spirit participation in leadership development with the Bible phrase “another Comforter.” We know this was the term Jesus used in the Gospel of John as He described the Holy Spirit He would send, and we have learned this phrase in Greek is paraclete, or one that comes alongside. We also know John devotes chapters 14 and 16 in his Gospel to the description Jesus gives for the coming Holy Spirit. We sometimes call these the paraclete chapters.
Let’s get a taste for how Jesus described this. Early in chapter 14, Jesus lays the foundation that He is going away as He speaks to Thomas (verses 1-4). Later in verse 18, He says, “I will not leave you comfortless.” And in verse 19 He says, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more.” Then in verse 28 He mentions twice He is leaving.
Clearly the consolation that Jesus gives the disciples for His departure comes in His words, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (v. 16). Now much has been taught about this idea of the paraclete, the Comforter, the One who comes alongside us. Thank God for this gift of Christ. But I believe we can expand our understanding even further by considering the word “another.” That is what Jesus said, “I shall give you another Comforter.”
This word another is a simple word we use almost daily, so think simply with me. Another clearly implies something came before. So, my question here is, “Who was the original Comforter to the disciples?” Of course, that is not difficult to answer. It was JESUS! He came alongside them, or rather called them to come alongside Him. He led them, taught them, loved them, poured into them, revealed much to them, ordained them, and literally formed them into what Christian history and the New Testament would later call the apostles of the Church!
Yes, what a change took place in the lives, hearts, minds, and souls of these disciples as they spent time with Jesus. And this is where we connect with the title of this article. During those years with Jesus, transforming development took place led by the original Comforter, Jesus Christ Himself. Then Jesus gave the promise, “I am going to send another.” Just as Jesus had been the developer in the lives, hearts, minds, and souls of these disciples, now Jesus has sent the perfect replacement, the Holy Spirit. So, as we ask ourselves what the role of the Holy Spirit in leadership development is today, our biblical response must be the Spirit is another leader developer now with us in the same ways that Jesus was the developer actually and physically with the disciples.
In this brief article, there is not room to consider all the teachings of Jesus or the New Testament about the ministry of the Holy Spirit which supports His role as another leader developer. So, let’s look at the single description Jesus gives in verse 26. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Although this is just one reference from Jesus, the all-inclusive nature of His words gives us the hint that this role of the Holy Spirit as another leader developer will be vast and all encompassing just as it was with Jesus. Look at the words, “Teach you all things, and bring all things to your memory.” The Holy Spirit will be the all things initiator and activator in developing leaders along the same lines as Jesus with the disciples.
So much could be described here about the Spirit’s role in developing leaders. Let me simply take a brief walk through my own life calling and season of ministry. As the Lord was calling, there were numerous moments where the Spirit was drawing me to tears, melting my heart, and giving me compassion to consider a career of service in ministry. Early on, and at turning points all along, there were seasons of seeking for God to open doors, guide my steps, and show me His way. At times, there were challenges to be faced and great need for empowering as well as guidance. Many times, I have sat under anointed ministry where my heart burned with the realization the Spirit was stirring something new in me. In so many classes, I felt the surge of inspiration as new understanding was coming with learning. There was the day-to-day commitment to be in touch with the Spirit for the ongoing regular demands of ministry and service. These were often accompanied with new surges of anointing and faith. Often the Spirit would ignite inspiration or vision or passion as I read a book or attended a conference. And in several seasons the Spirit would call for extended seeking, fasting, or joining with others to call on the Lord for greater assistance. I am sure we all identify these as Spirit involvement in ministry formation.
I am not saying here that we need no other resources or tools or avenues to develop leaders for the vast ministry that remains before us. I am simply saying that the Holy Spirit will utilize all resources we can develop and a multitude of other influences we could never manipulate to bring about complete life-transforming development in the lives of those God is calling. Our resources will be avenues for the Spirit to use. That is why we pray over them and seek His guidance as they are developed and delivered. Yes, we are even now designing new tracks and processes to be more effective in this work, while we constantly understand it is the Holy Spirit that is the leader developer and that He must fill each session, each piece of material, each teacher, and each moment for heavenly transforming development to occur.
Finally, the truth above verifies that above all else we must build our processes and deliver them to every student on the foundation that individual and personal relationship and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is an absolutely critical essential. Guiding our God-called ministers to understand that their formation as a minister is based on the most essential key of Holy Spirit guidance and empowerment is our first and foremost priority. If the Gospel stories show us anything, it is that Jesus was the great factor in forming the apostolic ministry upon which the church was built. Now Jesus says there is another leader developer, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the first priority for every class, every phase, or every process must be learning and fine tuning a sweet sensitivity to the Spirit as our great teacher and guide among all the resources needed in the task. Holy Spirit we welcome you as you lead us toward completing our commission and the great second coming of the King!