Personal Assessment–Part 2

The following blog post is from a personal leadership assessment I had to write as part of a Christian Leadership class in May 2011, and is based on the three types of spiritualities.  At the time, I was attending the Command and General Staff College, pursuing my Master in Theological Studies, and had just received notification that my mother had been diagnosed with Stage IV inoperable cervical cancer.  I pray that this post brings you encouragement and some lesson learned that is applicable to your own leadership journey.  Of note, since the writing of this assessment my mother has been miraculously free of cancer for a few years now…God is so good!


As a continuation of my first personal assessment, my personal view of Christian leadership goes beyond the realm of the Christian ministerial community.  Since I am a Christian military leader, and have been for 13 years, I must view the various spiritualities that affect me accordingly.  Currently, the military encompasses many aspects of my life, and this personal assessment will examine how Spirit-filled spirituality, warfare spirituality, and motivated spirituality define my role as a Christian military leader.

First, certain aspects of Spirit-filled spirituality that I experienced during my childhood define my role as a Christian military leader.  In fact, many things I witnessed as a child shaped the way I view spirituality in general, and they provided a strong foundation for other types of spirituality in my life.

Most of my childhood consisted of traveling around the South with my mother to revivals and tent meetings.  I had the privilege of watching and listening to many influential Pentecostal evangelists who were instrumental during the “three spirit-centered movements”, specifically the Third Wave Movement.[1]  By witnessing “signs and wonders” performed by well-known Third Wave evangelists, such as R.W. Shamboch, I developed a sense of respect and awe of the power of the Holy Spirit at an early age.

However, after being exposed to other Christian believers and their beliefs, I began to examine my predisposed assumptions concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Many of the ministers and evangelists I heard and saw as a child were by-products of the first two spirit-centered movements.  As a result, I came to view the gift of tongues as the only evidence of the Holy Spirit in a Christian, and witnessed firsthand how this assumption can divide Christian believers.[2]

The churches I grew up in consisted of like-minded believers who held the same view on the gifts of the Spirit.  There was a sense of isolation and segregation within certain communities, many based on denomination.  However, my exposure to other Christian believers in the military made me question the validity of some of these beliefs.  I realized that any belief that divides the body of Christ requires intense Biblical examination and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

One area of personal examination involves the applicability of “sign gifts” to modern Christianity.  Some modern Christians, especially Word-centered believers, believe that certain spiritual gifts are not applicable to modern society, and were only used to aid in the expansion of the early Church.[3]  I still believe strongly in the validity and the usefulness of all spiritual gifts, especially “sign gifts”, in modern society.

In fact, modern society closely resembles Roman society during the days of the early Church, and there is an increasing need for the spread of the Gospel to all nations, thus further expanding the body of Christ.  There is more of a need for these gifts today than ever before.

Second, certain aspects of warfare spirituality define my role as a Christian military leader.  Given my Pentecostal and military background, my experience with warfare spirituality is vast.  During my lifetime, I witnessed many battles on all three fronts of the spiritual war that continues to be fought every day.

Many of Paul’s references to being a Soldier in Christ’s army make sense to me, since I am able to compare them to my life in the military.[4]  I am also able to view spiritual warfare in terms of physical warfare, since the two are closely interrelated and fought in similar fashions.  However, recent events in my life bring to mind the battles being fought on the third front:  warfare with Satan and his compatriots.[5]

This past week, Satan launched a two-pronged attack on my family.  He first attacked my mother with stage 4 cervical cancer.  Even though he targeted her body and her spirit, only one was temporarily successful.  One severe flaw in his battle plan was the underestimation of her spirit and the Holy Spirit within her.  In fact, many witnesses who have vast experience in the workings of the Holy Spirit said they had never felt the power of the Holy Spirit as they did in her hospital room.

He then attacked my wife and three kids yesterday through a head-on collision as they were travelling home from school.  Again, Satan underestimated the power of God’s protection on my family, and they walked away from it without a scratch.  He didn’t know that my mother, through the power of the Holy Spirit, prayed a prayer of protection over her car when she bought it three years ago.

These two instances provide great examples of one of the most effective weapons we have in our arsenal, and is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb to our enemy.  The power of the Holy Spirit working through us can have a devastating effect on Satan and his minions!  However, as the New Testament tells us, we must be aware of the war being fought, we must know the strategies and weapons of our enemy, and we must know how to most effectively fight our enemy.[6]  We already have the promise of ultimate victory, but we must do battle on a daily basis to achieve it.

This promise of victory, as laid out throughout Scripture, became excessively evident during my two deployments to Iraq.  It was easy to see, not only the physical battles between good and evil, but also the spiritual battles being waged in a region where it all began.

While most American Christians are either Word-centered believers or Spirit-centered believers, this division failed to exist among Iraqi Christians.[7]  They knew the capabilities and threats of their enemy, but failed to cede ground to the forces of darkness despite a guaranteed physical death.  By witnessing their perseverance, my heart yearned for this type of Christian unity among my fellow American believers.  It also made me realize our true identity and purpose in Christ.

Finally, certain aspects of motivated spirituality define my role as a Christian military leader.  It was also during these deployments that I came to realize my true identity in Christ, and this served as a source of motivation.[8]  Initially, I let the natural feelings of fear cloud my view of this identity.  Walking around “outside the wire”, I couldn’t help but wonder if someone was going to shoot me or one of my Soldiers at any moment.

However, one day while standing on the bank of a canal, fully exposed, I remembered the Bible verse that assured me that no weapon formed against me would prosper.[9]  At that moment, I experienced a sense of peace and realized my true identity as a protected child of the living God.  From that point on, I embraced every challenge that I faced with confidence and peace.  In many cases, adversity spawns hope in a person of faith, and I can bear witness to this fact.[10]

In conclusion, certain aspects of the three types of spirituality discussed above define my role as a Christian military leader.  My deeply-seeded roots in Spirit-filled spirituality laid the foundation, thus providing a deeper understanding of both warfare spirituality and motivated spirituality.  I am confident that, without the things witnessed as a child, I would not be where I am today.  With my gaze toward my future, I sincerely desire to remain within the will of God.  I know that He will direct my path, wherever it may take me.

________________________

[1] Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 296-297.

[2] Ibid., 297.

[3] Ibid., 306.

[4] Ibid., 329.

[5] Ibid., 329.

[6] Ibid., 340.

[7] Ibid., 306.

[8] Ibid., 144.

[9] Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV).

[10] Boa, 147.

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