The Spirit of Servanthood
The Essential Attitude Necessary For All Leaders
Pastor Ronald C. Mahurin
Pastors, Elders, Deacons Retreat
Nov. 20, 1982
Topic: The essential attitude necessary for all leaders.
Textual Background: Numbers 13-14
Text: Numbers 14:24 “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.”
Brethren, We have Met to Worship (George Atkins 19th Century)
Brethren, we have met to worship
And adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power,
While we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the spirit
Of the Holy One come down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna,
Will be showered all around,
Immortal, invisible, God only wise, Our prayer to Thee is simple, yet Oh so sincere, “Let the words of mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer, Psa. 19:1k
“But My servant, Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.” Numbers 14:24
I have been asked to speak to you on the topic, “The Essential Attitude Necessary for All Leaders.” Since the Committee did not suggest to me what this attitude is, I am taking the liberty of suggesting to you that the indispensable attitude or characteristic or spirit of an effective leader is the spirit of a servant.
Our text opens with the identification of a servant, “But My servant Caleb” (Hebrew — faithful, bold — impetuous, animal name meaning “dog”) “because he has a different spirit....”
Here is a man that had a spirit that was different from all others, with the possible exception of Joshua. One writer said that there were about 1,700,000 people who were redeemed out of Egypt and were taken for three days’ journey and had come to Kadesh-Barnea, All of these people were different from two men One of these men was Joshua and the other is this man, Caleb. I think here, God paid a great compliment to Caleb, He said, “Caleb is my servant and he has another or a different spirit.”
What kind of spirit did he have? What was there about this man, Caleb, that distinguished him from 1,700,000 others and caused God to compliment him as he rarely complimented anybody in the Old Testament?
We’ve got to see him in the midst of a great number of people with the wrong spirit to appreciate his spirit.
I. The Difficult Spirit which Prevailed When Caleb Served.
A. You see him, for instance, in the midst of people with complaining spirits. Numbers 14:1—3; 27, 36 “Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, arid the people wept that night. And all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them:
‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! and Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt’?”
“How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.” (vs.27)
“As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing out a bad report concerning the land,” (vs. 36)
I’m not going to take much time with these complainers, but that night at Kadesh-Barnea after just three days out of Egypt, just three days since the passover lamb, and three days since the miracle of redemption by blood, the Bible says they wept that night and they began to murmur, grumble, and complain against God.
Now, I don’t know if there is anything more discouraging to leadership than a murmuring, grumbling, complaining people. I have to remind our Elders and Deacons often that we must learn to live with the complainers. Every church has them! I tell our men, “If you do something— you will be criticized for it. If you do nothing — you will be criticized for that. And I’d a whole lot rather be criticized for doing something than for doing nothing.”
So Caleb served at a time when a complaining spirit prevailed but he had a different spirit.
B. Some of these people had a calloused spirit Numbers 14:4
“And they said one to another, let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt.”
They were calloused, absolutely hardened to all God had every done for them. Some of them even wanted to return to Egypt.
You know, that’s human nature as I have seen it and so have you. There are people that God has helped in the time of distress and delivered in the time of sorrow and raised up in the time of illness and yet they have that old calloused spirit until God has to deal with them again in troublesome times.
Caleb, along with Joshua, had pleaded with these people not to rebel (v.9) against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, but being confident of the Lord’s presence; power and protection, they would be blessed in their obedience with victory in the land which flows with milk and honey.
“But all the congregation said stone them with stones,” (v.10)
Now listen brethren, that’s the kind of callous spirit that prevailed when Caleb served. You may have been voted out of your church, my pastor friend, you may have been voted off the Board of Elders or Deacons. I’ve heard of some of that, but none of us has been stoned! Yet! On men, how callous some people can be.
On one occasion, Paul wrote the church at Corinth and said, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (n Cor. 12:15)
Some of the very people with whom you spend the greatest amount of time and energy and love in seeking to help will in a time of rebellion against God, in a very cold and callous mariner cry out against your leadership and say in effect, “Stone him”!
So Caleb served at a time when a callous spirit prevailed but he had a different spirit.
C. Some of these people had a carnal spirit. They couldn’t care less about the glory of God and the purpose of God in their life. “...Would it not be “better for us” to return to Egypt?”
So they said to one another, let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt. They said in effect, Let me do what I want to do. Let me do what makes me happy. Let me murmur, let me criticize, let me be calloused, let me be carnal, let me do my own thing, the “I wanna be me” attitude! Never mind what God wants, never mind how my carnality, my selfishness hurts others, I gotta think of me. Let me be without any concern whatsoever about the glory of God.
So Caleb served His God during a very difficult time, Now you know, as well as I that the ccmplair4ng, callous, carnal spirit which prevailed when Caleb served the Lord still prevails in many congregations today. But I want you to notice the different spirit which predominated Caleb’s service right in the midst of the difficult spirit which prevailed
II. The Different Spirit which predominated Caleb’s Service
Now let’s see what that spirit was. I think that there were at least five things about Caleb that caused God to say he was a man of another or different spirit,
A. In the first place, it was a Spirit of Faith. Numbers 14:24
“But My servant Caleb, because he has had ‘a different spirit’ and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land...
Caleb was a man that had absolute confidence in God. He believed God when all the odds were against him. Hebrew 11:1 is the only definition of faith that I know of in the Bible.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. “
Now here is a man that had the spirit to believe something he could not see. God says it exists. He said it’s there. He was one of the few who was willing by faith to believe that God would give His people the promised land, even if it was already held by seven nations who were powerful and strong. This took faith.
In Numbers 13 you have the record of Moses appointing a committee of 12 men to spy out the lands. Caleb is one of them; Joshua is one of them; there were ten others. Moses took one out of every tribe and said, “Go over there and spy out the land. Let’s see if it’s like God said it would be and see if we can take it. God said He would give it to us.” So they went over and came back and there were two reports. There was the majority report and the minority report, Now here’s a point, one of the most foolish things you’ve ever believed in all your life is that the majority is always right. In the Bible the majority, without exception is always wrong.
Ten of them said, “Why we can’t take this land?” I’ll read their very word in 13:31 “But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”
But two men said, “Yes, we are able. God said He would give it to us and He will.” And here is a man that had the spirit of faith.
13:30 “And Caleb silenced the people before Moses, and said, ‘We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it!”
The report of the spies was factual: the land was fruitful: the cities were fortified; and the people were fearsome. All had the same facts, but Joshua and Caleb viewed those facts through the eyes of faith rather than the eyes of fear. The majority report was, “It can’t be done!” The minority report was “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.”
What mad the difference? The fearful, faithless majority fixed their eyes on facts and concluded it couldn’t be done. While Joshua and Caleb fixed their eyes on the promises of God and concluded it’s in the bag. The majority focused their attention of the magnitude of the problem while the minority focused their attention of the magnificent power of Almighty God. That made the difference.
“Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees and looks to God alone
Laughs at impossibilities
And cries, It shall be done.”
So Caleb believed when all other would not believe. Here is a man with a different spirit, the spirit of faith.
B. Secondly, it was a Spirit of Courage. Numbers 14:9
“....Do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”
Caleb was one of those kind of leaders who always said, ‘With the help of God, we can.” It has been my observation that there are three types of leaders, The Can’s, the Can’ts and the Cautious. Those who say “Yes, we can do it.” Those who say, “No, we cannot do it,” and those who are caught in the middle and say, “we abstain” Personally, this third group bothers me the most. They often do not display the courage of conviction. They don’t say no and they won’t say yes. I wonder if James didn’t have these men in mind when he wrote:
“Let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:7)
But not this man Caleb. He was courageous. He said, “Don’t fear the people of the land for they are bread for us.” He said, “It’s a piece of cake! We’re going to eat them up.” I like a fellow with that spirit. He said, “Their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear then.” Numbers 14:9
Now I’m going to tell you what I believe. I’ve read the promises of the Bible over and over again and the “fear nots” of the Bible. I’ve marked them and studied them and I’ve come to the deep seated conviction that feat is the result of a lack of consciousness of the presence of the Lord in our lives. The presence of God in our life “the Lord is with us - do not fear them.”
You know, no Christian in the world, conscious of the presence of God, ought to ever be afraid. Then I was in the sixth grade I met a boy whose name was Fred Bryan, Fred was the biggest guy in the class. He should have been. It was his third year in the sixth grade. It just so happened that I was the smallest guy in the class and I very quickly developed a close friendship with Fred. I may have been small but not stupid. I soon discovered that whatever side Fred was on, they were the winners. I loved to run the football when Fred was out in front running the interference. Once Fred got rolling the defensive players bounced off him like water on a hot spital. As long as Fred was there we were all very courageous. Anytime he wasn’t there, it was another story. A conscious awareness of the presence of Fred made all the difference in the world. It is amazing how courageous I was when Fred was around. And I repeat, no Christian ever need be afraid, but may be courageous when he is conscious of the presence of the Lord.
“The Lord is with us. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is te strength of my life’ of whom shall I be afraid” Ps. 27:1
And here was a man, Caleb, who had a different spirit - the spirit of courage. He just felt that if God was with him, he had nothing to fear - man, failure, future, nor past nor present nor obstacles, nor disappointments or anything in the world. He was a man with a different spirit. He had the spirit of courage.
C. In the third place, it was a Spirit of Loyalty
This man Caleb had another spirit, the spirit of loyalty. Not only was he loyal to God but here was a time when these people said in 14:4 “Let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt.” Now they already had a leader. Moses was raised up by God as their divinely appointed leadership. Moses and Aaron fell on their face and started to pray and old Caleb stood up and started tearing his clothes and was stirred within him and he said, “Let me tell you something, you dare not rebel against God.” You don’t need to go looking around for another leader, you need to be loyal to the one you’ve got.
We need to follow leadership and God never makes leaders out of anyone who can’t be led. Here’s a man that respected the leadership God had raised up, These people said, “Let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt.” You know, it wasn’t long after this they said, “Let’s make us a calf.” They were always wanting to do something other than what God wanted them to do.
But Caleb was different, He had a loyal spirit toward God—appointed leadership.
D. In the fourth place, it was a Spirit of Patience
He had something that few leaders have. Caleb had something that is really tough to get. It takes a lot of prayer. It takes a few hard knocks. It takes some disappointment. It takes some trials. It takes some tears to get this thing Caleb had. Think of the patience he had to have.
He spent forty days and nights over there in the land of Canaan. There were ten men in his company day and night and all ten of them disagreed with bin and, no doubt, argued with him and plotted against bin and later tried to kill him. Forty days and forty nights he lived with them. That took patience!
Not only that, but listen; after God set forth his decrees of judgment and said, “You’re turning back and into the wilderness, you are going for forty years,” Caleb had to wait for forty years for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
And not only that, but when they crossed the Jordan and went into Canaan, it was five more years before Joshua ever said, “Now, Caleb, pick out what you want and what God promised you.” For 45 years Caleb waited for God to do what He said He’d do. IT TAKES PATIENCE TO BE A LEADER.
George Mueller, considered by many to be the greatest orphanage man that ever lived on the face of the earth, prayed for 27 years for two unsaved brothers. One of them was saved shortly before he died. When Mueller died, one of them was still lost and on his way to Hell, People said, “Look at that man, prayed for all these orphans and prayed literally hundreds of thousands of English pounds to this orphanage to feed them and clothe them and take care of them. Yet he has prayed 27 years and his brother is still on his way to Hell,” But shortly after George Mueller died, his other brother, an old man, was gloriously saved. God never ignored the patient faith in prayer of His people.
So Caleb had the spirit of patience. Forty—five years later when they got into the land, he remembered a promise.. You find it in Deut. 1:36, God said in that chapter: “Caleb, I’m going to give you, the very place you walked on when you went as a spy into the land.” And you know where he went? He went to a place called Hebron. Darlene and I had the privilege to visit Hebron. Hebron in the Bible means “fellowship” When you look in the Book of Joshua, chapter 14:12, Caleb comes to this place 45 years later. There’s a mountain and giants live in it who are called the Anakim. Caleb, 85 years old, said, “Now, therefore give me this mountain....”
Caleb, a man of faith, courage and loyalty waited patiently for the fulfillment of the wonderful promise of God.
E. In the fifth place, it was a Spirit of Love.
At this point, the love of Caleb must be obvious to you. His love for God (Don’t rebel against our God), his love for God’s divinely appointed leadership (Don’t appoint another leader, be loyal to the one we have), his love for the people of God demonstrated in his pleading with them to believe God, obey God and enjoy His blessing. They wanted to stone him but he did not retaliate. You may be a faithful, courageous, loyal, patient leader but if you do not have love, you have become a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1)
III. The Dominant Spirit Which Must be Paramount In All Leaders’ Service
The ruling, controlling spirit which is to have the pre—eminence in all our service is characterized by a hunger and thirst after righteousness; a humbling of ourselves under the mighty hand of God; and the spirit of heaven which is the spirit of holiness. “Be ye holy for I am holy.” Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.
May God be pleased to give us, in this great hour of His church, men, Christian leaders with “a different spirit.” God will do great things through men who have the spirit of a Caleb.
Moses was criticized by a trinity of murmurers Korah, Dothan and Abiram. Korah’s great mistake was the denial of the authority of Moses as God’s chosen spokesman and intrusion into the priest’s office. Korah’s sin consisted in the attempt to create a priestly order without divine sanction.
God would not allow such an intrusion into the ministry and He opened up the earth and swallowed up Korah, his household, all his men and all their possessions (Numbers 16:32) and fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering incense (16:35) of their own kind.
The next day all Israel complained against Moses and Aaron and accused them of killing the Lord’s people. God told Moses to get away from this assembly so He could put an end to them at once. (16:45) Most of us would have said “Well it’s about time, Lord, let them have it.” But not Moses and Aaron, they fell down on their faces before God and Moses told Aaron to take his censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. For the wrath of God is upon this people and the plague has started. So Aaron did as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead. 14,700 people died from the plague in addition to those who had died because of Korah. He couldn’t save them all but he did stop the plague.
We need men today, who, enabled by the power of Almighty God, will run into the assembly of the complaining, callous, carnal congregation and with a spirit of faith, courage, loyalty, patience and love be instruments in the hand of God to stop the plague.
I am reminded of the words of Vance Havner in his sermon entitled “God’s Anyones”. “We have never had more experts and more study courses and more seminars on how to build gospel fire, what kind of wood, how much oil, what kind of matches, everything but the fire. We don’t need better methods on file, we need better men on fire. Human kindling wood, anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit, set ablaze with the love of God, available, inflammable, expendable, a flaming, faithful few——God’s Anyone’s——to reach everyone with the simple gospel for these sinful times.”
If this leadership conference is only a glorified Chatauqua featuring Paul, Cephas and Apollos, we have met in vain. But if there could be kindled-from off the altar of God——a flame of sacred love in these cold hearts of ours—— and if as we leave this place, we could scatter like human sparks all over the Conference, we might have just one more change to set this world on fire.
REVIVE THY WORK
Revive Thy Work, 0 Lord~
Thy mighty man make bare;
Speak with the voice that wakes the dead,
And make Thy people hear.
Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Disturb this sleep of death;
Quicken the smouldering embers now
By Thine almighty breath.
Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Create soul—thirst for Thee;
But hungering for the bread of life,
Oh, may our spirits be!
Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Exalt Thy precious name;
And by the Holy Ghost, our love
For Thee and Thine inflame.
And give refreshing show’rs;
The glory shall be all Thine own;
The blessing shall be ours.
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.” Psalm 115:1