Spurgeon on Leadership (12): Seven Lessons on Suffering

1. Leadership always comes with a cost. That cost often takes a toll on the personal well-being of a leader from within. Spurgeon suffered greatly throughout his ministry, especially from rheumatic gout, which led to severe depression and other complications.

2. Depression can afflict even the greatest leader. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and others suffered from depression their entire lives. Spurgeon had long bouts with depression and lamented that “there are dungeons underneath the Castle of Despair.”

3. Personal suffering factors into the overall impact that a leader has through his life and ministry. Suffering had a tremendous impact on the depth and quality of the preaching, writing, and other aspects of Spurgeon’s ministry. He wrote, “We have to be cut with the sharp knife of affliction, for only then can the Lord make use of us.”

4. Suffering is an integral part to one’s spiritual journey. Spurgeon be­lieved that suffering was a normal part of the Christian life. He agreed with the apostle Paul, who wrote to the Philippian church about “the fellowship of [Christ’s] sufferings.” Spurgeon wrote that “neither good­ness, nor greatness can deliver you from affliction.”

5. Prayer is a great remedy for suffering. Spurgeon was a great believer in prayer. He often praised God and thanked the people in his church for their prevailing prayers, which he believed helped ease his suffering and brought restoration to him.

6. A leader can lead from weakness as well as from strength. Spurgeon used his illness and shortcomings as a means of identifying with the hurts of his hearers. He said, “I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.”

7. A leader should not be overcome by his suffering. As much as Spurgeon suffered, he was ever confident that there would be a better day. He wrote, “The star of hope is still in the sky when the night is blackest. The Lord will not forget us and hand us over to the enemy. Let us rest in hope. . . . Surely, out of death, and darkness, and despair we shall yet arise to life, light, and liberty.”

  2Comments

  1. Jay Bailey   •  

    I agree wholeheartedly with Spurgeon that suffering is an integral part of your spiritual journey. Suffering not only removes all obstacles from trusting in the Lord but moves us to greater dependence on the Lord. The fruit of suffering is the building of faith that comes from the deliverance and grace the Lord supplies. The Lord has brought me through some difficult and desperate times and as a result I know that He will supply all my needs no matter what. I can encourage others as a result of my first hand knowledge of the grace and mercy of God and trust that He will continue to supply the grace I need from day to day. If we look at what is our greater good ; which is to be with the Lord then we can suffer and know that Christ is gain and death is not the enemy. Then we can truly say with Paul to live is Christ but to die is gain. Those whom have not experienced suffering just haven’t lived long enough. Life is a struggle for most and as the body ages and decays along with all of creation it groans to be restored and I for one look forward to that day. Spurgeon had a compassionate and empathetic heart which was a result of the mercy that God supplied in the winter of his life (the season of suffering.) May the Lord continue to use the weakness and frailty of life to draw us to His marvelous and glorious grace.

  2. sandy   •  

    looking up gout information i stumbled on this —all this? depression, and spiritual journey–does MLC fall into these categories,? seems to.

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