Leading in Two Realms

Today’s post is an excerpt from my new project “Think Differently Lead Differently”

In a time of great change in the church, Christian leaders are tasked with overseeing and even managing this season of transformation. Today I want to discuss one factor that sets us up to change the wrong thing. A simple yet overwhelmingly significant fact, is that Christian leaders are by very nature called to lead in two realms simultaneously.

Christianity is a belief system built on a world view that most westerners simply do not hold. Clearly a biblical worldview must include the understanding that we live in a world whose reality is defined by an integration of both a visible material world, and an invisible spiritual world.

While the material world is evident and easily apprised by our five senses and human reason, the spiritual world is, by definition, different. The spiritual world is perceived through a different set of senses and clearly functions in a different way than the natural laws of our material world.

When we interpret spiritual things through the senses and reasoning processes of the material world we can end up with deception that feels like certain truth. Even more, if we do not grow in our understanding of the relationship between these two realms we may actually find that some of our thoughts and strategies that seem fully appropriate in the material world can have negative impact in the spiritual realm.

I have found in my assignment to help people find personal freedom, that some of the most difficult people to help are those who excel in the material realm. People who are very good at earth may actually be impaired in their functioning in the invisible kingdom. In a realm where dying equals true life, and giving away leads to true wealth, people who can only see one side of the equationstruggle greatly to operate in the duality of the material and the spiritual realms.

Now add to this the idea that we often recognize and validate leadership qualities based on how well people succeed on earth. The outcome of this formula is that we often promote to kingdom leadership those who have succeeded in only onerealm. A man or woman’s ability to succeed at earth, may or may not tell us anything about their ability to succeed in two realms simultaneously. In fact, in many cases this can be a set up for promoting people and instilling leaders who struggle deeply in their true understanding and effective interaction in the invisible Kingdom of God.

Simply acknowledging the presence of the spiritual realm is not enough. We can have a material world view and apply it to an understanding “that a spiritual realm exists”. Much of our legalistic thought process and harmful charismatic practices (not to be confused with healthy charismatic practices) can be a direct result of acknowledging that a spiritual realm exists but applying naturalistic and humanistic thought process to that view. Many of our harmful practices can also come from investing deeply in the natural realm, but being entirely unfamiliar with the spiritual realm.

To lead effectively in any Christian endeavor requires a growing awareness of and developing healthy practices for interacting in both a natural and a spiritual realm. To lead effectively in Christianity we must grow in our understanding of how these two worlds relate, and how our actions and interactions influencethis relationship.

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