Connect, Lead, Equip: The Fruit of the Spirit & Community Outreach Leadership
If Christian leaders in ministries and businesses want to do good for others and impact local communities, we ourselves must be doing well, which involves discipline. If we can’t master our own minds and behavior, we certainly can’t set an example for others to follow. Achieving positive results in work or outreach programs involves organization and confidence that stems from self-discipline. Thankfully, Christians in business and church leaders have an incredible tool available to strengthen self-control. Think of it not as self-control, but as Spirit-control.
We’re talking about the “fruit of the Spirit.” He produces control in and through us. We may make the mistake of seeing self-control as something like the guy who got shot in the old western movies. He’s bleeding and the bullet needs to come out. They get him into the house, but there’s no anesthesia so they tell him, “this is going to be painful but we have to do it.” They give him a stick to bite down on. He grimaces in pain, but tries not to give into it. We may think self-control is a matter of how hard we can bear down and get through it without giving in. But that’s self-effort, not Spirit-production.
“But I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Galatians 5:16, ESV).
How do we walk by the Spirit?
We do so by relying on the Spirit’s presence and power. Just as a person walks with the aid of a cane, to walk by the Spirit is to be faith-dependent on the Spirit for each step of one’s daily life. He produces in us the ability to control every area of our lives in line with His perfect purposes. The promised result that comes from walking by the Spirit is simply that we begin to experience behavioral changes, meaning growing deliverance from the control of the flesh or from the reign of sin as well as the positive production of the fruit of the Spirit.
Walking by the Spirit means a conscious determination to trust or rely only on the resources of the indwelling Holy Spirit for strength to obey God and overcome the desires of the flesh. This is accomplished through faith. And vital to an attitude of moment-by-moment dependence is the study of the word, prayer, worship, and fellowship with others.
This isn’t just a passive let go and let God. We have active responsibility. We need to work out what the Spirit is working in us. We’re able to work it out because God is working in us to produce it. So, our self-control is enabled by Spirit-control. Where do we need to begin? We may have more than one area of our life that is “out-of-control.”
Steps to Improving Self-Control:
- We need to admit that we have a problem with self-control in whatever area it is.
- We need to believe that God (by His Spirit) enables us to resist selfish or negative desires.
- We need to submit to the Spirit’s leading by committing to Bible reading, fellowship, and prayer.
- We need to invest in spiritual friendships.
This is the value of spiritual community, especially small group relationships. An accountability relationship isn’t about someone “checking up on us.” It’s about someone caring enough for us to help.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” (Titus 2:11-12, ESV).
Grace, God’s great favor poured out on us, not only redeems us, but brings us salvation. It reforms us. It changes our attitudes, ambitions, and actions. The Spirit of God by the grace of God enables us to live self-controlled lives and grow in the life God intends for us. We need to believe that, count on it, and have confidence that we can live self-controlled lives. Our self-control is the foundation of success in positively impacting others day to day whether it is through our vocations, ministries, or community projects.