Is Leadership Training a Replacement for Spiritual Power?


Does leadership training have a place in the church?  Some embrace it; others have legitimate concerns. Illustrations from the life of Solomon, Zerubbabel, John the Baptist, and Jesus provide insight to answer this question.

A House Built by the Lord

Solomon likely exuded leadership potential as he assumed the role of king.  No doubt everyone expected he would accomplish great things on behalf of the nation.  However, Solomon needed to firmly grasp the concept that achieving real success in leading a nation, regardless of the task, depends completely upon the presence and blessing of God. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalms 127:1).

Achieving real success in leading a nation, regardless of the task, depends completely upon the presence and blessing of God.

Solomon’s wisdom exceeded that of anyone before or after him; however, the success that he would experience as king of Israel was not about his intelligence, his skills, his resources, or his leadership prowess. It could only be attributed to one thing: God’s presence and divine blessing.  ​

Not By Might, Nor By Power

God gave Zerubbabel, governor of Jerusalem, a grand vision for rebuilding the temple.  When progress on the temple slowed to a crawl in the face of opposition, Zerubbabel became discouraged. God encouraged him through Zechariah the prophet, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). Your success in rebuilding the temple is not based upon your own abilities nor the talents of others.  You will rebuild the temple because God says you will and He will make it happen.  ​

Success in fulfilling God’s vision lies in the hands of God. God uses man’s knowledge, skills, and resources to accomplish His vision.  But the key ingredient in successfully achieving a God-given vision is the working of God to make the contributions of man useful.

Without God We Can Do Nothing

John the Baptist and Jesus both baptized followers.  In the course of time, a question arose between John’s disciples and a Jew who had likely been baptized by Jesus.  Whose baptism is better, that of John or Jesus?  Unable to satisfactorily answer the question among themselves, they approached John, who responded in this way: “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27). What is accomplished for God is accomplished through the hand of God, regardless of who God uses to do it.

Success in fulfilling God’s vision lies in the hands of God.

Jesus told his disciples, “I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (John 15:15). Maintaining your connection to me is the only way you will have the capacity to fulfill my vision for your ministry, “for without me ye can do nothing.”  Lacking a connection to Christ, you will fail to accomplish your mission.

The Nonnegotiable Necessity

The only way an individual will fully accomplish kingdom business is if he abides in Christ. Truly useful, productive lives will only exist if one stays connected to Christ.  ​

The lives of Solomon, Zerubbabel, John the Baptist, and Jesus instruct us that the presence and blessing of God are essential for achieving success as defined by God.  Spiritual power comes from God’s presence and blessing.

Leadership training is not a replacement for spiritual power. But that does not mean that it cannot enhance the effectiveness of a Spirit-filled ministry. In my next article, I will explore whether leadership training has a place in the church.

Todd Arnold
Todd Arnold
Todd Arnold earned a PhD in civil engineering from Penn State University and works as General Manager of Pine Test Equipment, Inc. in Grove City, PA. He lives in northwest PA with his wife, Abby, and their children, Erin and Drew.