Dr. Gray Sr. - Former Pastor of the Longview Baptist Temple, 42 year veteran Preacher of the Gospel
Looking back on my nearly 70 years of life I can only recall a handful of men who were real leaders. Those were the ones who led from the front and not from behind. The late President Ronald Reagan struck me as a man’s man. His ability to lead not just others, but himself, brought security to Americans. He was a disciplined man who lived by principles and not personality. He brought our nation out of the disastrous policies of Jimmy Carter into a era of prosperity. When he became President we had long gas lines and skyrocketing interest rates.
At the Sheridan Hotel in Chicago I had a conversation with President Reagan. I asked him if he were to die today if he would go to Heaven. He told me he trusted Christ as an eleven year old boy at the leading of his grandmother. Later on in his presidency he would witness to Mr. Gorbachev after being asked what caused America to become such a great power in the world in such a short period of time. President Reagan did not hesitate to tell him it was because we are a Christian nation and it was because of Jesus Christ that we were such. He urged Mr. Gorbachev to trust Christ. We would never see that happening with our current President. Rather our current President would be apologizing for our greatness.
I believe that George W. Bush was a solid conservative, policy wise, as seen in the first 4 years of his presidency. He let conservative principles guide him. However, I felt in his last 4 years he capitulated to the liberals far too much and was distracted by a need for a “get-a-longism” philosophy. Also, we see this in his dad who could not resist the pressure to capitulate on taxes. I lost a lot of respect after he said, “Read my lips. No more taxes” and then he caved in to liberal pressures. Real leadership finds a way when there is no seeming way. Most leaders are a city without walls on the inside.
General Douglas McArthur’s WWII promise to return to the Philippines is one of the great insights to the man General McArthur. I am one of those who felt he would have made a great President. General Patton had his problems, but no one could consider him a man who lacked courage. He may have gone over board, but at least he was on board.
I think of over 4,400 Americans who have given their lives on foreign soil to help keep America free in our long war against terrorism. I see hundreds of young soldiers as I go through the DFW Airport. To me they look like they are 13 or 14. They look so young to me. The truth is these are our finest. They are not a part of a conscripted army. They volunteered because of their love for America. They are leaders for this fight for freedom.
The book “THE GREATEST GENERATION” authored by Tom Brokaw is a wonderful book about the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom during WWII. These were not military experts. They were farmers, factory workers, school teachers, etc., who lived and died for love of nation. They were passionate about freedom. Passionate principled people are the back bone of a great nation. Oh, God give us leaders once again who can lead themselves first.
I traveled and preached with Dr. Jack Hyles for 22 years. The first time I preached with him was in September of 1978 and I shared the platform with him the last time he preached in Monterrey, Mexico in 2001. If you have ever had an opportunity to see one of his sermon outlines you would be shocked if you compared it to the actual sermon. That skinny little outline did not reflect the oratorical expertise of detail with which he preached.
He was what he was preaching. He had passion because what he was saying was who he was. He did not check the doctrinal or cultural winds of his day. If soul winning did not build a great church then he would go soul winning anyway, because it was still right to do. The end never justified the means to him. His motivation came from the inside not the outside. All of this was a result of him leading himself first before leading others.
Proverbs 16:32, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
God did not say, “He that doesn’t get angry….” You cannot be slow to anger if you have no anger. You cannot come back from where you have not been! You cannot be slow to anger unless you are on the way.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be ye angry and sin not….” Sometimes you need to be angry, but you should decide when those times are. Your “will” should dictate when you become angry. Circumstances should never dictate your anger. Never react—act! Anger should never be a reaction, but a decision. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
Our country is destitute for men. It is difficult to find a politician who possesses real leadership. It is a rare thing to find a preacher who provides real leadership. Leadership is almost extinct. The inability to not lead oneself forfeits ones right to lead others.
It would be better for a single lady to stay single the rest of her life than to settle for anything less than a real man. When some men get married, the preacher should say, “Let me now pronounce you male and wife.” Some women could even claim their husbands as a dependent deduction for the IRS.
Our nation did not have a real man when Bill Clinton was in the White House. His wife was more of a man than he was. Consider the leaders of days gone by: Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas McArthur, and others. Most people recognize the names G. B. Vick and J. Frank Norris, but few recognize the name of the current president of the Bible Baptist Fellowship. Most people do not know the names of the presidents of the General Association of Regular Baptists, the Conservative Baptist Association or the Southern Baptist Convention.
AN INTERVIEW WITH KING DAVID
In my minds' eye I come to an old warrior! His hair is like the snow on the mountain peak. His shoulders are drooped, and his brow is furrowed. His hands are palsied, and his voice shakes when he speaks to me. I say, “Sir, you are not long for this world. Could I ask you a question? What was your greatest accomplishment in leadership? Was it when you killed a bear with your bare hands? Was it when you took those same hands and slew a lion? Was it when you took five stones and with a slingshot felled the giant Goliath? Was it when you ruled a nation in power? Was it when you conquered cities of the enemies? Was it the leading of a nation through two rebellions? Sir, aged one, what was your outstanding achievement in leadership?”
He strokes his beard and thinks a while. Finally he responds, “None of those things. My greatest time of leadership was not killing the bear, killing the lion, killing the giant Goliath, leading the nation in two insurrections, or leading a great nation from the throne of Israel in Jerusalem. No, that was not it. The time I led best was at the door of a cave.
“My enemy Saul was sleeping at the door of that cave. In fact, I was running from him at the time because he was attempting to kill me. There he was, the man who had thrown javelins at me and vowed he would kill me. There he was! I pulled my sword and I was encouraged to kill him, but I did not. I cut a little piece from the hem of his garment and let him live.
Another of my times of leadership occurred when I was running from Jerusalem. My son Absalom was leading a rebellion against my forces. A little fellow named Shimei began to curse me. He threw rocks, dust, and stones at me. My servant Abishai drew his sword and said, ‘Let me kill him!’ I said, ‘No! Do not touch him!’
The third time occurred during the rebellion itself. I could have fought against my own son. I could have led the forces. I could have killed my son.”
David, you say these are your greatest times of leadership, but I am confused, whom did you lead? “I LED MYSELF!”
According to Proverbs 16:32, if you are able to lead yourself, you are performing the greatest act of leadership known to mankind. If you never learn to lead yourself, you will never be qualified to lead anyone else. Many Christians attempt to lead everyone but themselves!
If you are a young preacher and you picture yourself leading a congregation, you will never lead a church, schools, or even a wife until you perform the greatest act of leadership known to man. That is the act of leading yourself.
Saul led a nation, but he could not lead himself, and the nation fell. Alexander the Great led a nation, but he could not lead himself. He became a slave to alcohol and crumbled with his nation. Solomon could lead an empire until he quit leading himself. When Solomon could not lead himself, the empire fell. Samson could lead a nation until he could not lead himself; when he could not lead himself, he ended up in the lap of Delilah. As a result, he lost his power to lead nations.
Daniel never led a nation, but he led himself and then influenced a nation. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego never led an army; but they led themselves, and they have led billions who have read of the time they led themselves. Joseph never led an empire, but he led himself to run from Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him. No one will be a great leader until he can lead himself.
Greater than the leadership of Douglas McArthur in the Far East, than the leadership of Dwight Eisenhower in the European Theater, than the leadership of Patton, Grant, or Robert E. Lee, is the leadership of someone who looks into a mirror and says, “I will lead you!” You and I may not be able to lead multitudes, but we can lead ourselves.
The flesh is going to fight any time we decide to put it into subjection. The battle is on, and it must be won if we are going to provide the leadership that others need. Leading from behind is simply not being able to lead oneself. The question must be asked, “Can you lead yourself?"
USED WITH PERMISSION FROM SOLVECHURCHPROBLEMS.COM
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“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No - when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.” - Abraham Lincoln
"We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results." ~R.A. Torrey