Tag: Leadership

WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Pastor Rick Warren: Lasting in Ministry

Pastor Rick Warren: Lasting in Ministry

By Gideon in Blog, Ministry on July 5, 2018

PASTOR RICK WARREN: WHAT BILLY GRAHAM TAUGHT ME ABOUT LASTING IN MINISTRY & ENDING WELL

(The day Billy died, I ended up spending the entire day answering a dozen media interview requests about his impact on my life. At the end of the day, I wrote this below. The photo is from one of my many trips to my mentor’s home over the years.)

Billy Graham was the most influential Christian leader of the 20th century. He preached in person to more people than anyone else in history- over 215 million. With a global ministry that spanned 60 years, only Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa would be as well known around the world.

Billy’s message was simple and clear, and it never varied: No matter who you are or what you’ve done God has never stopped loving you and he has a good plan and purpose for your life Because none of us are perfect, we all need a Savior to in order to have our sins forgiven, understand our purpose for living, and gain a home in heaven. That’s why God sent Jesus to die for our sins. God’s offer of forgiveness and freedom is available to anyone who humbly repents and accepts the grace of God through Jesus, regardless of your ethnic or religious background.
WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Pastor Rick Warren: Lasting in Ministry
Growing up in a Baptist home, Billy Graham was our pope. I read my first Billy Graham book, Peace with God when I was in the 6th grade. When I was 16, I felt called by God to serve in ministry and I began preaching in churches and crusades on the West Coast each weekend while still in high school, so Billy was my hero and model. My grandmother was quite a woman of prayer so when I began preaching as a teenager, she would often tell me “The two people I pray for every day are Billy Graham and you.”

Then, in 1971, when I was 17, I heard Billy speak in person at the Oakland, California Crusade. I still remember thrill of it. 3 years later, at the 1974 Los Angeles Crusade, I met Billy for the first time when I was 20 years old. By that time, I had preached over 120 youth crusades and Billy somehow heard about my young evangelistic efforts and he took an interest in me. That began a mentoring relationship that stretched over the next 40 years. It would be hard to overestimate Billy Graham’s impact on my own life and ministry, on Saddleback church, and the Purpose Driven network around the world.

As a mentor, Billy taught me different things at different stages of my life, As a teenager, he was my model for preaching and inviting people to faith in Jesus. But in my 20s, it was Billy’s personal character – his integrity, humility, and generosity – that profoundly influenced me.

Then, in my 30s, I began to see and appreciate how strategic Billy was in how he organized his ministry, how he innovated, how he used new technologies, and how he strategically built relational bridges to different groups

Finally, in my 50s, Billy taught me about how to be a statesman in international settings, and how to work with governments without being co-opted by any political group. He even taught me the danger of signing public statements.

I could easily write a book about all the ways Billy Graham shaped my life and approach to ministry. He taught me many lessons through conversations and correspondence but I also caught many lessons simply by watching his private habits, his public manners, how he answered questions, how he led meetings, and especially how he related to people with different beliefs, lifestyles, and cultures. Billy led a life worth studying.

It was never my goal to copy his calling, but to learn his character. God called Billy to be an evangelist, traveling the world to witness to unbelievers, while God called me to plant and pastor a single congregation for life. Most of my global travel has been to train other pastors, and lead our P.E.A.C.E. plan. Still, many of the skills and convictions needed in both callings are the same.

The Bible tells us to “Ask the former generation. Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors. For we were born but yesterday and know so little. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations.” Job 8:8-10 (NLT)

Anyone who has completely 60 years ministry without any moral failure or scandal should be studied. Many people start off well but they don’t end well. How was Billy Graham able to finish well? Of course, Billy built his life and ministry on the unshakable foundation of God’s Word. He preached God’s truth not human opinion. But he made many other smart choices. Let me just mention four:

1. TO LAST IN MINISTRY AND FINISH WELL, BUILD YOUR LIFE ON INTEGRITY, HUMILITY AND GENEROSITY.

It is character, not talent, that you need to make it to the finish line. I have a framed newspaper headline from 25 years ago in my office that says “Billy Graham Turns 75 With His Integrity Intact.” I framed it because, to me, that is a definition of true success and finishing well. Billy finished well because of his character. He lived with humility, integrity and generosity, which are the antidotes to the 3 most common traps of leadership pride, sex, and money.

Billy modeled humility. He never forgot his farm boy roots, his small town values, and the fact that everything he had was a gift from God. Humble people are gracious people and Billy was always gracious to everyone. Great people make other people feel great, while little people belittle people, Billy taught me to ignore both the flatterers and the attackers- the cheers and the jeers from the sidelines, and instead focus on finishing the race God has called you to run.

Billy modeled that personal integrity is a daily choice. He established clear moral and financial boundaries around his life and ministry that I unashamedly copied. Our Saddleback Staff 10 Moral Guidelines are based on same boundaries Billy set up with his team We’ve used them for nearly 40 years.

Billy modeled generosity. The list of other ministries and causes that Billy funded is quite long and wide.
WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Pastor Rick Warren: Lasting in Ministry
2. TO LAST IN MINISTRY AND FINISH WELL, BE A BRIDGE-BUILDER, NOT A WALL-BUILDER. BE A UNIFIER, NOT A DIVIDER.

In the 1950 & 60s Billy insisted that all his crusades be integrated. In some southern cities in America, the Graham crusades were the first public events to be racially integrated. But Billy also insisted that his crusades be religiously integrated. He put Catholics and Protestants, Calvinists and Charismatics, Fundamentalist and Evangelicals, Liberals and Conservatives, all on the platform together. He was criticized for it, but he knew that God blesses unity and harmony.

By not getting involved in partisan fights, Billy was able to minister to all kinds of politicians and to both sides of the aisle. By staying out of denominational fights and competition, he was able to serve every denomination. Billy Graham was loved by the whole world because he loved the whole world! He was gracious Christian statesman.

Billy was always more interested in the eternity of nonbelievers than in the favor of narrow-minded believers who didn’t want him associating with “unholy” groups of people. But as an evangelist, you spend most of your time talking with people who don’t believe or live as you do.

Billy taught me that to reach people without Christ, you must sometimes ignore religious and political divisions. To be a bridge-builder you must walk across the line. When Billy accepted invitations to preach in Russia, North Korea, and other countries that were led by Communists, he was ruthlessly criticized by people who considered politics more important than the gospel. Critics said “They will use you as a pawn of their propaganda” but I happen to know that Billy’s attitude was that while that might happen, he would use them to get the gospel out, and the gospel of Christ’s love is far more powerful than any political paradigm.

I have been attacked and misunderstood for accepting invitations to speak to groups of Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, LGBTQ, secular liberals, and fundamentalist Christians. But I am called by God to share the Good News where ever I can, and you cannot bring your enemies to Christ, only your friends.

Before you can help others trust Jesus, they must trust you. Before they accept that the Bible is credible, they want to know are you credible? To be used by God as a bridge-builder for the Gospel you must be willing to be unpopular with those who only want to build walls. Billy taught me that we must take the gospel wherever we can, even if that means being misunderstood, or criticized, or accused of guilt by association.

3. TO LAST IN MINISTRY AND FINISH WELL, BE AN ENCOURAGER, NOT A CRITIC.

Everybody needs encouragement, and there were times in my ministry that Billy’s encouragement came at just the moment I need it.

Some of the most valuable possessions I own are the letters and personal notes that Billy wrote to encourage me over the years. One note he sent me was after he watched the first time I was interviewed on a Larry King Show. His words of encouragement are framed on a wall in my office between letters from Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa. I’m sure there are many others who received similar notes because it was Billy’s nature to encourage others in ministry.

Another time, Billy asked me to fly to his home give him an update on our Purpose Driven Global P.E.A.C.E. plan in 197 nations, His praise was effusive hyperbole but it encouraged me. After sharing a 2 hour report Billy said with tears in his eyes ” Rick, this is the greatest vision I’ve ever heard. I just wish I was around long enough to see it happen!” That was trademark Graham encouragement and it filled my eyes with tears too,

4. TO LAST IN MINISTRY AND FINISH WELL, SHARE YOUR PLATFORM WITH THE NEXT GENERATION.

We must take the long view, realizing that our ministries are just one brief phase of a long line of servants of God. Many have served God before us, and many will serve after we’re gone. Part of each generation’s responsibility is to set up the next generation for effectiveness. I watched Billy do this over and over, not only with me, but with many others.

While in college, I wrote my first book called Warren’s Bible Study Methods. Billy got a copy of it, and in the early 80s, when he organized his Global Congress for Evangelists – a 10 day training conference in AMSTERDAM, Billy called me up and said “Rick, I want you to come teach 13,000 evangelists from 190 nations how to study the Bible for themselves. He bought my book in 17 languages and gave a free copy to all 13,000 attenders.

At that time I was only in my 20s and I had very little confidence in my writing ability, but when Billy shared his platform with me, I thought, “Well, If Billy thinks my writing is good enough to give to all these leaders, maybe I should keep writing!” The Purpose Driven Life might have never been written if Billy Graham has not believed in me. So now, I am always looking for ways to encourage and share my platform with young writers and pastors.

Decades later, when I was invited to pray the invocation at the start of President George Bush’s inauguration week, and then again 4 years later at President Obama’s inauguration, Billy’s private advice was invaluable. He even gave me his hat that he wore when he prayed at previous inaugurations. He mailed it to me as a surprise along with warm personal note that said “Rick, It’s your time now. I believe in you! Wear the hat! Love, Billy” So I did.
WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Pastor Rick Warren: Lasting in Ministry
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People often ask “Who will be the next Billy Graham?” and my answer is always the same: There will never be e a replacement! Not only is Billy irreplaceable but the world has changed dramatically. In each generation God raises up new women and men to do his will in new ways , My life verse us Acts 13:36 but I think it is also a great description of Billy Graham’s life and ministry. Speaking of King David, it says, “David served God’s purpose in his generation, and then he died.” To me, this is finest definition of a successful life: serving God’s purpose (that what is timeless) in your generation,(in a timely way)” To do what is permanent and unchanging in a world that is constantly changing is the highest use of life. and it is the only thing that will last forever.

As we celebrate the life and legacy of this giant of faith, I urge you to get to know the Jesus Christ that Billy spoke of for over 60 years and then I urge you to commit to “serving God’s purpose in your generation” just as Billy did.
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WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Grace For Finishing Strong

Grace For Finishing Strong

By Gideon in Blog, Life Sharing, Ministry on October 27, 2017

Almost everybody in the 20th and the 21st century has heard of EVANGELIST BILLY GRAHAM , but have you heard about EVANVELIST CHUCK TEMPLETON? What about EVANGELIST BRON CLIFFORD ? Have you ever heard of them?

EVANGELIST CHUCK & EVANGELIST BRON were also packing AUDITORIUMS and STADIUMS full in 1945 when Billy Graham first preached to large crowds?
According to Pastor Tommy Barnett of Phoenix, all three of these young men rose to prominence in their mid twenties.

A seminary president, after HEARING Evangelist Chuck Templeton spoke as a brilliant and dynamic preacher called him the most gifted, talented young preacher in America.

Templeton and Billy Graham became very close friends. They started preaching together with the Youth For Christ organization. Most observers thought that Templeton would be the one who would go to the top.

One magazine wrote a feature article calling Templeton the “Babe Ruth of evangelism”.

As for Evangelist Bron Clifford, he was another gifted, young fire brand evangelist. Many believed that Bron Clifford was the most gifted powerful preacher to come up in the church for many centuries.

People lined up for hours to hear him preach. When he went to Baylor University to give a discourse, they actually cut the ropes off the bells of the tower. They wanted nothing to interfere with his preaching.

For two and one half-hours the students of Baylor sat on the edges of their seats as he gave a powerful homily titled “CHRIST and the PHILOSOPHER’S Stone.”

AT the age of 25, BRON CLIFFORD touched more lives, influenced more leaders and set more attendance records than any other clergyman in American history.

National political and government leaders vied for his attention. He was tall, handsome, dashing, sophisticated and intelligent. Hollywood actually tried to cast him in the lead role for the famous movie, “The Robe”. He seemed to have everything.

GRAHAM, TEMPLETON , and CLIFFORD launched out of the starting blocks like those running for Olympic gold medals in 1945.

Why have we not heard of CHUCK TEMPLETON or BRON CLIFFORD? The answer is shocking and surprising to keep you speechless.

SO SAD:
By 1950 TEMPLETON had left the MINISTRY. He pursued a radio career. He became an announcer and a newscaster, TELLING THE WORLD THAT HE NO LONGER BELIEVED JESUS CHRIST WAS THE SON of GOD. He became an ATHEIST.

By 1950, this future Babe Ruth of preaching was not even in the ball game!

SO SAD ALSO:
By 1954 CLIFFORD had lost his family, ministry and health. Eventually he lost his life because of ADDICTION to ALCOHOL. FINANCIAL irresponsibility left his WIFE and their two Downs syndrome children penniless. This once famous preacher dies of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 35 in a rundown hotel on the edge of Amarillo, Texas.

CLIFFORD died a pitiful, dishonorable and unsung death. Some pastors from Amarillo, Texas got together and collected enough money to buy a cheap casket. They shipped his body back to the East Coast, where he was buried in a pauper’s cemetery.
>>>>>>>>Also Read This:It Is Not You!
In 1945 all three of these men with extraordinary gifts were preaching for the purpose of multiplying the church by thousands of people. But within 10 years only one of them was still on track for Christ. THAT IS BILLY GRAHAM.

In this Christian life it’s not how you started, it’s how you finish! There is a recent survey that is really shocking and mind boggling.

It reported that only ONE out of TEN who start in ministry at the age of 21 serve the Lord to age 65.

They FALL AWAY from ministry due to IMMORALITY, PRIDE, BITTERNESS OF HEART, DISCOURAGEMENT, STRANGE THEOLOGICAL BELIEFS and a LOVE for WEALTH and the THINGS of this WORLD.

Sir or Ma, he who thinks he is standing should seek God always to remain standing, the grounds are very slippery these days.

Not all men who can shout are a voice for God. You can be a voice for God or a voice for man. Choose right.

THE CHALLENGE TO YOU AND MY SELF WHO are TODAY PREACHERS…. WILL YOU FINISH STRONG FOR CHRIST?

Let us continue to pray for one another because even the seeming successful ones needs our prayers more than ever before.

PRAYER:
Dear Lord keep us strong by your grace only and for you only till the end of days in Jesus name.

1Co 10:11-12
Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Finishing Strong! –David Cawston.
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WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Nothing is Permanent

Nothing is Permanent

By Gideon in Blog, Life Sharing on May 31, 2017

Life Lessons: Nothing is Permanent

Online Editor
THISDAYLIVE | 2017-05-14T02:50:36+00:00

Our guest this week is Mr. Olu Abosede, Founder and former Managing Director of a wholly indigenous, quoted company, Aboseldehyde Plc. The company was once used as a reference point for other local entrepreneurs who would want their companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Within a period of 14 years, the company had become a very strong brand in the country in its niche area.
Things were also pretty good for our guest who built his first personal multi-million Naira house at age 28 and the second at 32. His children were in choice schools locally and abroad. His house at Gbagada, in Lagos State, was a beehive of activities by friends and associates who regularly showed up on weekends to treat themselves to some choice wines in his well-stocked personal bar.
Then, in a sudden twist, from 2000, there was a gradual but irreversible slide of fortune, starting with the forced take-over of his company by creditors. And the rest came in quick succession. His two houses in Lagos were razed by fire, leaving him with no option than to move into a rented apartment.
Four times our guest attempted to commit suicide. In our first meeting, six years ago, Abosede shared some life lessons with me, some of which are documented below. But a few weeks ago, when I located him to update the interview, he could not communicate much as he is at the moment battling with stroke. But with the help of his second wife, he was able to put a few more lessons across. Enjoy the insight.
Lesson 1:
Better believe this: there is God!

Few years back, I would have argued that there was nothing like God or any external forces that get involved in the affairs of men. I had it very good early in life. I graduated at the age of 25 as a Chemist with multiple jobs waiting for me. I eventually picked up a job in one of the conglomerates then, as a Laboratory Chemist. And, within a short span of time, I moved steadily to the top. I had a car with a driver attached to me 24 hours. I never used one car for more than two years. I was exposed to a lot of training locally and abroad. In my own calculation, I had thought that my rapid rise was as a result of my own ability, personal intelligence and intellectual capacity.
It was after I had run out of options and I decided to just reflect more that I started to discover a startling fact: that the universe is governed by natural or spiritual laws which would work for you when you align yourself with those laws and would work against you if you contravene them. God is ever present in every little thing you do.
One lesson I have learnt is that there is a superior force that shapes things in the physical realm; and it is to one’s advantage to believe this.
Lesson 2:
Never lose confidence in yourself.

Whatever happens and whatever the circumstances you are facing, don’t lose faith and confidence in yourself. Once this is intact and you believe there is God who is always ready to work with you, you’d find that things become a lot easier. When you lose faith in yourself, ultimately, depression sets in and when depression sets in, you just discover that even what you knew you could do, you start to find it difficult.
We tend to underrate our abilities during crisis times; and once you do that, you would lose much ground which may take a considerable effort to recover. You would be astonished as to what you can do in crisis times once you don’t lose faith in yourself. Believing in yourself is a key step in coming out of failure.WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Nothing is Permanent
Lesson 3:
Use crisis times to reinvent yourself.

Every single day I wake up, I gain more understanding about life that I could not have got without a crisis. In crisis times, usually every hope appears lost. This is usually the situation when you focus on the challenge instead of the opportunities that abound around you. But when you reinvent yourself and refocus, you would discover that there is always a little opening which if you recognise is usually planted by the Higher Power to take you out of that situation. I must say that my challenges were so overwhelming that I could not see any ray of hope anywhere.
Lesson 4:
Take Responsibility for every challenge you face.

Learn to take responsibility for any situation in which you find yourself.
When my ordeal started, I threw the responsibility on everyone else except myself. I blamed the banks that did not give me enough time to restructure the company and meet my outstanding obligations to them. I blamed friends who refused to sympathise with me and lend me helping hands when I needed them most. I blamed relatives who trooped in when the going was good, but disappeared at the slightest challenge. I blamed the press whom I thought did not give me fair-hearing. I blamed everyone else except myself.
But the more people I blamed the more depressed and miserable I became. For more than four years, I was angry with everybody and myself. I was even developing health problems in the process. Everyday as I blamed other people; I got the problem on the ground magnified.
Lesson 5:
There is no odd job in a crisis.

You don’t have wisdom and experience if you don’t have crises. I am talking of a situation where you are left with absolutely nothing -no influence, no privilege, no position and your name counts for little.
And things can turn bad very rapidly. I remember a time when things were still very good, a leasing company invited me to be on its board. I offered to nominate someone to represent me, but the company insisted that they wanted me because of my name and the goodwill I had built over time. That was gone during the crisis and my name really meant very little.
I learnt this truth in a hard way. To get out of a crisis especially when your back is on the wall, survival is the name of the game. No job can be considered odd in crisis times and you will multiply your sorrow if you sit down brooding over your former position and privileges.
To get out of the hole, the wisdom is in looking at your current position and seeing what you can do gradually to build up from that ground floor. Come to terms with the fact that you are on the floor. You must flush out anger, bitterness, envy and jealousy.
Lesson 6:
Nothing is permanent.

When I was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), it never occurred to me that a time would come when I would not be able to do anything I felt like doing. I was hit by stroke some two years ago and with it all the dreams I had carried in my head, becoming a mirage. I have many things I want to do, but I do not have the energy and health to make them happen. The lesson is this: take every opportunity to make things happen when you have the energy; you cannot guarantee you will be able to keep it forever.
WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE Nothing is Permanent
Lesson 7:
Don’t be bitter with people.

This may be hard to understand but one lesson I am learning rather late is that when I am bitter with any human being, I am actually working against myself. When things were okay with me, my house was a beehive of activities. I had helped many people. I sponsored some to schools. But when things went bad, they were the first to desert me. I was bitter, and I still have a bit of bitterness towards them. However, as I am learning bitterness erodes health.
One Lesson – great advice
While in that situation, I just reflected on a statement made by Dr. Christopher Kolade when I invited him to be on the board of my company. I felt that with his goodwill bringing him on board would make a lot of difference to the company.
But in our first meeting, he said: “I know what you want to do; you want me to take responsibility for the success of the company. But you are responsible for the success of your company.” I continued to echo that statement.
I later realized that placing responsibility on others for whatever happens to you would invariably mean you have lost your personal power which the Higher Power has given to everyone. You are in this world for a purpose, and that purpose can only be realized by you and the Higher Power. It means that any action you take is yours.
This article is of THISDAY NEWSPAPERS LTD.
Make available online (via Fb account) by Mr Mathew Oladimeji Shotunde, NY, USA.
Re-published with graphics here with intention to share the lessons of life for better future. God bless you!

WORD-AFLAME LEADERSHIP COLLEGE 8 Traits of Effective Church Leaders

8 Traits of Effective Church Leaders

By Gideon in Blog, Faith and Work, Ministry on March 27, 2017

I am a bit reluctant to articulate the characteristics of effective church leaders for fear that some may take the information and reduce it to a neat, quick-fix formula, and that others may see this approach as human-centered, denying the reality of a sovereign God. Nevertheless, in our studies of churches that are reaching people and retaining them through biblical discipleship we have seen a very clear pattern develop, especially in contrast to leaders in other churches that did not meet our criteria.

Keep in mind that it is the total and the composition of these traits that distinguish the effective leaders from other leaders. Many of the less effective leaders share some, but not all, of these traits. I will refer to these leaders as pastors, though some of the churches used other nomenclature, such as ministers.

1. Fierce biblical faithfulness.

Without exception, these pastors held to the total truthfulness of God’s Word. Not only did they believe the veracity of Scripture, they passionately lived out their beliefs.

2. Longer tenure
The leaders we studied are willing and even want to have long-term ministries at one church. While longer tenure itself is not the key to effective leadership, a series of short-term pastorates rarely allows one time to establish lasting leadership in a church. In one of our national surveys of pastors, we found the average pastoral tenure to be 3.6 years. But in different studies of effective leaders, those pastors had an average tenure ranging from 11.2 to 21.6 years.

3. Confident humility.
In our subjective interviews with effective church leaders across the nation, our interviewers repeatedly reported that the leaders had a clear and compelling confidence about their own leadership. But that confidence was not arrogance. To the contrary, their confidence centered more on what God was doing and less on their own inherent abilities.

4. Acceptance of responsibility.
We did not hear of excuses for ineffective ministry from these effective leaders, even though many of them experienced prolonged periods of struggles. Instead, these pastors accepted the leadership responsibility that comes with their position, and they refused to blame circumstances or others when the inevitable times of conflict and challenge occur.

5. Unconditional love of the people.
Ministry can be dirty and Christians can be jerks. It is often difficult to love those who complain and attack you. But these effective leaders, with no claims of perfection, still expressed an intense love for the members of their congregations. In some measure, they have learned to love as Christ loved us.

6. Persistence.

Because these leaders have a long-term perspective of their ministries at the churches where they serve, they are able to lead toward progress one incremental step at a time. That is not to say they have a laissez-faire attitude; to the contrary, these pastors are incredibly persistent.

7. Outwardly-focused vision.
An integral part of the lives of these effective leaders was their passion and vision to reach people who were not Christians and who were not a part of their churches. To say that these leaders are evangelistically focused would be an understatement. They are passionate about reaching the lost and unchurched, and the visions they communicated inevitably reflected this priority.

8. A desire for a lasting legacy.

The ambition and drive of these leaders cannot be denied. But that ambition is not limited to their personal successes. They are ambitious for their churches to be thriving and healthy well beyond their ministries and even their lifetimes.

In the final analysis, we cannot know how much of leadership skills are innate and how much can be acquired. These leaders will tell you, however, that they have made significant strides in becoming better leaders. Such are their testimonies. And perhaps, in God’s strength, we can follow these examples and become the types of leaders God wants us to be.-THOM S. RAINER, CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR.