With quill in hand, the Apostle Paul takes up his parchment and begins a short letter to the church in Ephesus. Standing over him is a fully armed Roman guard. This isn’t Paul’s first such experience. In fact, he had been escorted all the way from Jerusalem to Rome by armed guard. He certainly overheard many of their war stories and in fact engaged in direct conversation with them. Now as he concludes his correspondence, he considers the parallel between how the Roman guard is prepared for battle and how the Christian faces spiritual warfare.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Whether you are a pastor, business leader or the director of a not for profit organization, there are three elements of preparation that you should discover and apply to your leadership.
A Heart for the Cause
The first of the three elements take us to the heart of the battle. Men’s attire in that day wasn’t conducive to running but it was easily adaptable. The men would simply pull their robes upward and tying the front and back sections together essentially turning them into shorts. Of course one can’t run well without the proper foot attire. The breastplate guards our hearts. It is virtually impossible to lead people who don’t have the heart to run with the message. There is always an excuse. If those you lead don’t have the heart naturally (which is best) you are going to have to inspire them. Without heart, they will never be effective warriors for the cause.
A Confident Defense
The shield of faith reminds us that there will always be opposition or competition. If you are in sales, someone will always knock your brand. As a leader, have you instilled faith and confidence in your product? As a pastor, have you taught the flock to defend the faith? Have you equipped them with a ready answer for the skeptics? A confident and well-grounded faith in your mission is the best defense you can have. It is hard to defend a cause you haven’t fully bought into yourself.
A Ready Offense
The helmet and the sword are essential. Salvation is preeminent in the cause of Christ. It means that you have to be part of the team to begin with. Many churches are filled with unconverted people and we wonder why there is no power. The sword is the only offensive weapon listed. It is not an opinion or a philosophy. It is the Word of God. The church has no other foundation for its doctrines. Trends, opinions and consensus are not the weapons of the follower of Christ. The power of the church rests in the redeemed who are advancing with God’s Word.
Paul knew that it was (and still is) essential for disciples to be firmly rooted in the foundational principles of the church. As a leader, you must know what your core is. As has oft been said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Know who you are, why you are and what you are all about. Then reinforce those core principles to your team on a regular basis.
The battle-ready leader understands the need for heart, defense and a good offense built around core principles. Is your team equipped for battle?