Lessons from the Past

John of the Cross (1542) and I share a birthday. We were both born on January 24th.  We are not twins, I was born almost 400 years after he was, but, we are brothers in our spiritual journey although we are on opposite sides of theology and practice.

John of the Cross coined two phrases that have great meaning to leaders.  he spoke about something he called “spiritual gluttony“, a condition where God is merely a means to fulfill my desire to experience warm feelings and spiritual energy.  John saw this as a temptation to all Christians, and taught that God will actually withdraw good feelings from us to help us grow.

Leaders run the risk of focusing so intently on the leadership role and problems that they just assume that God will bless them for the “good” they are doing.  We often take His blessings for granted because we are “serving” Him.  We become “spiritual gluttons” with no personal appreciation and no public acknowledgement of God.  The very fact that we can be called “leaders” is a blessing from God.  We experience His grace and mercy every day.  The announcement of that truth should be a part of our daily leadership role.

The “dark night of the soul“, which has come to be used by many people for any experience of suffering, actually has a very focused meaning for John.  It is the season in which God withdraws comfort and emotional ease for a purpose which is good, but which we may not understand.  For a leader, it may mean a period of tough issues or disappointments or even reversals.  Every leader experiences them.  Could John be right?  Could God be trying to get my attention?

So, wonder if John is right?  What should we do anyway:

1.  Learn to practice 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18, thanking God for everything.

2.  When things go bad, first check your relationship with God.  Worry more about what He things than what others think.

3.  Do whatever you do for His glory!  Be honest about it.  1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17,23


Dr. Ron Cline helps build the body of Christ around the world. His background as a pastor, educator, counselor, missionary and author gives him credibility and rapport with the many groups and individuals he and his wife, Barbara, minister to in various countries each year. After 7 years of pastoral ministry in Southern California, and ten years as the Dean at Azusa Pacific University, the Clines’ international service began in 1976 as a short-term opportunity when he agreed to pastor the English Fellowship Church in Quito, Ecuador for two years. Those two years stretched into six years. Following that he served as the president of HCJB World Radio, also in Ecuador, for 20 years. HCJB Global, now Reach Beyond, has media, health care, community and/or leadership development ministries in Latin America, Europe, Russia, North Africa/Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia Pacific. Ron and Barb currently serve as Global Ambassadors with Reach Beyond and live in Southern California after living 30 years abroad. They travel from Southern California throughout the world. For the last ten years they have been encouraging, coaching and working with leaders in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Mongolia, India, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, America Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, Central Asia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Ecuador, Russia, Malawi, Ivory Coast and South Africa.

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