This article was written by Thom Rainer, President & CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources.
Even though we find ourselves in the worst economy since the Great Depression and in a time when local churches and the people in them are struggling, I remain an obnoxious optimist.
I am convinced God is not done with me. He is not done with us. And He is surely not done with His Church. I’m convinced God is up to something. While it may seem the darkness is great, I stand confident it is about to be penetrated by significant light.
Leaders are rising up in our local churches. I see it happening all across the nation. It is for that reason I have great hope for the future of all churches.
I’ve been reading James in my daily time with the Lord. And I’m still in chapter one. I keep reading that chapter over and over and over again—and it just keeps speaking to me. One of first things James talks about in his epistle is leadership. His message is for me, for you, and for our churches.
As a leader, I need wisdom—His wisdom. Not because of my level of responsibility, but because I have nothing unless He gives it to me. In James 1:2-8, we see the need for wise leaders.
Wise Leaders Seek to Learn from Trials
When James starts his epistle, does he say “consider it a shame” or “consider it an injustice” or “consider that God hates you” because you are going through a trial? No! He says to consider it a great joy when you experience various trials.
Many of us need to read that again. Many are going through trials right now. Are we looking at the trial and letting it consume us with worry and anxiety? Or are we saying “Lord I’m going to consider this a great joy” or “What are You trying to tell me though this?”
This year has been a tumultuous one for my family. But one moment I’ll never forget was when my son, Jess, looked at me just moments after his newborn son, Will, had died. He said to me “Help me to see this not from a perspective of bitterness, but from a perspective of how God can work through this.” May we all long to see God working through our trials.
Wise Leaders Ask God for Wisdom
Once we realize we need wisdom in our trials, we must remember who the Giver of that wisdom is. When we ask, our God is faithful to answer. We see that in verse five. He gives “generously and without criticizing.”
Here, James reminds us He is not only faithful to answer, but He answers with abundance. The word picture in verse five is similar to that of taking 24 ounces of water and pouring it into a 16 ounce glass. It would be overflowing. That is what God’s wisdom looks like when He gives it to us—it overflows. Can you imagine what would happen if leaders all across the land faithfully and fervently asked God for wisdom?
Wise Leaders Trust God Faithfully
Wise leaders believe God; they don’t doubt him. James uses wonderful imagery in verse six. We can only imagine what he had in mind when he said “For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”
I envision him thinking of time similar to what we see in Matthew 14. There, we find the disciples on a boat struggling to cross a raging sea. Jesus came walking across the water and spoke to only one of them—the one who was willing to trust him. Are we willing to respond to God's direction with faith?
Wise Leaders Are Decisive
Having wisdom and trusting God are worthless unless acted upon. Verse eight makes that abundantly clear: “An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.”
While discouragement runs rampant around us, we must trust God and ask him for wisdom. As leaders, we are then called upon to act.
We are commanded to make a decision when the day comes. When we seek wisdom from the Lord, He will prepare and empower us to act.
God continues to cultivate and equip leaders—wise leaders. These leaders are filled with God’s Spirit and with the fullness of His wisdom. And it is my prayer that they continue to seek Him and His wisdom as they lead their local churches.