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Intentional Leadership Begins with Intentionally Abiding

by Blake Whiteman - Lead Pastor | Real Life Ministries Cd'A, Coeur d'Alene, ID

“Thank you for leading this group and for discipling me,” Shea said as we stood next to our trucks in the coffee shop parking lot following our Tuesday morning men’s small group.

“I want to become a better leader. How did you learn to become a better leader and a disciple-maker?” he inquired.

“Well,” I replied “you can thank the Lord because without Him working in me and on me, I tend to not be a very good leader or disciple-maker,” I replied.

Whatever dude,” he retorted, “but seriously though?” he asked again.

“I am serious,” I said, “I believe that the best leaders and disciple-makers are also the best learners and followers. When I am abiding in Christ and I follow His leading through His Spirit, follow His methods and share His messages, I am leading and discipling more like Him and less like me, which is always better. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 that we are to “follow his example as he follows the example of Christ.” The best thing I think you can do to become a better leader and disciple-maker is to abide in Christ and put into practice His ways and follow others that do the same.”

If we desire to be intentional in our leadership and intentional in our discipleship then we should start by being intentional in our abiding relationship with Christ.

Paul states that his life’s example is based on him following and modeling Christ and he extends an invitation to follow him as he follows Christ. It should be no different for us. The invitation we extend to others as leaders should be based out of our own personal example of abiding in Christ in real time that can be shared, discussed, questioned and witnessed by those in our lives.

Jesus tells us in John 15 that the results of an abiding relationship with him will be the production of the fruit of His Spirit in our lives, the retention of His word, and the remaining in his love in accordance with the keeping of his commands. It is out of the overflow of this that we are to lead and disciple!

If I can be honest, though, this is easier said than done.

There have been more instances than I would like to admit in which I make the decision to lead not out of the overflow and fruit that comes from of an abiding relationship with Christ, but instead out of my own strength, wisdom and effort. I choose to succumb to a busy schedule, a lack of discipline and the lie that I can lead just as well in my own efforts as I can from a place in which I am presently abiding with Christ and being led by His Spirit. I choose instead to lead and disciple using vague generalities and examples of abiding experiences of the past, instead of sharing the real and current realities of an abiding relationship from the present.

When I do choose to lead and disciple out of the overflow of an abiding relationship with God I experience the following:

  • I get to model and share in real time how the Word of God is living and active and applicable in my own life and in the lives of those around me.
  • I get to be a visible, imperfect, example of what I am encouraging and leading others towards becoming – a disciple of Jesus who makes disciples of Jesus!
  • I get to share the struggles and victories in my own journey with the Lord as a disciple, a husband, a son, a father and a ministry leader, and I get to give and received encouragement, correction and support along the way.
  • I get to invite others into a journey I am actually on, not one that is just theoretical or conceptual.
  • I get to lead and disciple in God’s strength and the wisdom of His truth and His word by His Spirit and not rely on my own. There is a freedom in letting God do His part and me doing mine!

I’ll say it again, if we desire to be intentional in our leadership and intentional in our discipleship then we should start by being intentional in our abiding relationship with Christ, for apart from him we can do nothing!


Blake Whiteman – Lead Pastor
Real Life Ministries Cd’A
Coeur d’Alene, ID


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