Spurgeon on Leadership (13): Six Lessons on Leadership for a World in Crisis

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1. A nation looks to its leaders for guidance and direction in times of national crisis. At the young age of twenty-three, Spurgeon was requested to lead a special prayer service for the country in a time of trouble in India.

2. A Christian leader to whom people look for guidance must bring people together to seek God’s aid and unite their hearts and minds in prayer. Spurgeon was resolute in leading the country toward worship of God as they sought His divine help and intervention.

3. For a Christian leader to call for national repentance that no ob­struction might impede God’s granting a nation’s request for divine assistance is appropriate. Spurgeon called on the nation to repent at the same time that he called for divine justice against the perpetrators of violence.

4. In times of national crisis, leaders give comfort and show compas­sion to the victims who have suffered greatly. Spurgeon led the as­sembly at the Crystal Palace to demonstrate compassion for the hurting ones by raising funds for the victims of the upheaval in India.

5. The leader who is thrust into the national spotlight at a time of national crisis bears a grave responsibility because people look to him for help in understanding the situation. Spurgeon voiced the outrage that people were feeling about the murderous insurrection in India, and he promised God’s justice according to His Word.

6. In times of national crisis, the Christian leader has an obligation before God to point to the hope that lies in Jesus Christ.

Spurgeon on Leadership (12): Seven Lessons on Suffering

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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.”

Spurgeon on Leadership (11): Seven Lessons on Criticism and Conflict

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1. Controversy is unavoidable for the person who seeks to be faithful to the Lord’s calling. Spurgeon wrote, “Controversy is never a very happy element for the child of God. . . . But the soldier of Christ knows no choice in his Master’s commands…” Jesus counseled His disciples that because the world hated Him, the world would hate them as well. Even the most effective leader will encounter controversy along the way.

2. A leader should not seek out controversy for its own sake. Spurgeon expressed his distaste for controversy: “I’d rather walk ten miles to get out of a dispute than half-a-mile to get into one.”

3. Some conflicts occur because of a leader’s own faults and failures. When a leader is tactless, careless, thoughtless, uncommunicative, head­strong, dictatorial, and arrogant, he will attract criticism as a result. This kind of controversy is not admirable; rather, it represents an unwise leader­ship style that creates adverse reactions.

4. Controversy can serve to unite a leader with his followers. This point was true in Spurgeon’s early ministry when he was maligned by the media. “The bond that united me to the members of New Park Street was probably all the stronger because of the opposition and calumny that, for a time at least, they had to share with me.”

5. The wise leader is capable of differentiating between personal and professional criticism. Spurgeon did not typically respond to personal attacks, but he did respond when someone criticized the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. He showed more concern for his official role than for his personal reputation.

6. Leaders may profit by giving their potential critics significant responsi­bility. Spurgeon’s philosophy was to take disruptive types and, in his words, “I set them to work and they are no longer troublesome; if that does not cure them, I give them still more work to do.”

7. A leader’s goal should not include becoming a master of contro­versy, but to become consistent in handling the truth. Spurgeon may not have been the best controversialist, but his resolve was to remain true to firm convictions, regardless of the outcome, believing that righ­teousness will prevail in the end.