Leadership as Joyous Warfare
How You Can Be Used By God to Set People Free
This is our final week looking at icons, simple objects that connect us to deep Biblical truths. We started with a jar of dirt to remind us that ‘It’s All His!’ We moved on to a paddle, to remind us that He is in control, and then to an apple to help us remember we are called to bear God’s fruit not just produce our own. We then considered a mirror that helped us see ourselves as beloved children of God, and a climbing rope that reminded us that as steward leaders we are called to be co-travelers with our people. Last week we considered the words ‘In God We Trust’ on a one-dollar bill and sought to find our security in Christ alone.
The seventh and final symbol we will look at is a sword. You may think it a strange way to end this series, but it is vitally important for us as steward leaders. Every icon represented a biblical truth for leaders, and for each we discussed the challenge of rejecting the owner-leader attitudes that so tempt us. The calling of a steward leader will take us into the very heart of a spiritual battle where an enemy awaits to “kill, steal and destroy.” (John 10:10) There may be nothing the enemy hates worse than a joyful and free steward leader, because God has done and will continue to do miraculous things for His kingdom through such surrendered leaders.
If you and I commit to be such leaders, we will face the assault of the enemy square on. This means our effectiveness as steward leaders will require daily spiritual warfare. This should not scare or dishearten us. Quite the opposite. When we attract the attacks of the enemy, it means we are closest to the heart and will of God. And we enter this battle with the full knowledge that “greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
What is at stake in this battle is the extent to which God can use you and your leadership as an instrument to set other people free. Simply put, your freedom is the door to the freedom of the people you lead and with whom you serve. God uses steward leaders to set people free from the bondages of ownership and two-kingdom living. Here is how Barry and Carl, our two mentors in The Seventh Key, explain it to Jack, the once-struggling executive who is now tasting that freedom for himself.
Jack’s eyes narrowed. “What’s left to unlock with the seventh key?”
Carl turned and handed it to Jack. As Jack tuned it over between his fingers, Carl continued.
“It’s the victory over one final battle that will still keep us chained even after we’ve come all this way, and that’s the temptation we have to take all of this and keep it to ourselves. It’s the chain of apathy, perhaps mixed with a sense of cowardliness. That may sound a little harsh, but God did not set us free to hold all this for ourselves. The seventh key unlocks the chain of apathy and, because of that, it’s unlike the other six.”
Carl stopped and looked at Barry. Jack sensed they had rehearsed this moment. Barry picked up his seventh key, handed it to Jack, and took up where Carl left off.
“You see, Jack, the seventh key is the one you give away. That’s why we have so many of them. Once we’ve experienced the freedom that God has for us, he will call us and use us to help set others free. You need to expect God to open doors for you to walk someone else through the same process that we’ve walked you through.”
Jack took the key from Barry and held it with the one Carl gave him. The last time he’d held a key like this he’d known the icy cold of the St. Joe River as he scooped the contents of Barry’s fishing vest from the frigid stream. He looked at Barry, and felt a grin working across his face.
“So that’s why you had an extra one of these keys in your fishing vest?”
Barry smiled and nodded. “Yes, although I had it tucked away since I really wasn’t ready to give it to anyone. I remember that morning even being reluctant to put it in my vest. But I knew I had to be ready, so I stuck it in a pouch where I knew no one would ever see it. I had it all planned out so I would never have to help someone walk this journey until I felt ready. But God had another plan. And so, he stuck that tree root where I couldn’t see it. Despite my best efforts, he knew you needed that key, and the only way that was going to happen was for me to take a dive into the river. Pretty interesting how God uses us in spite of ourselves, right?”
Jack laughed. “You know it’s amazing to think that all this started with you falling in the river. If that hadn’t happened, do you think you ever would have shared that key with me?”
Barry looked down and slowly shook his head. “Honestly, no, not a chance. I say that to my own shame, especially now that I’ve seen all God has done. But no, without that fall in the river, none of this would’ve happened. At least not because of me.”
Carl leaned in. “So, we all have to remember that using this seventh key doesn’t depend on us being ready, or on the time being right or the setting being perfect. And we need to remember that the enemy would love for us to just tuck this key deep inside a fishing vest and hope no one sees it. But we have been set free to be used by God that he might set others free as well. So, we’re going to give you seven of these keys and pray with you that God will open your eyes to the opportunities around you to walk others along this same journey.”
Are you ready to let God work through you to set people free? It will require your full surrender and complete trust, but how else would you choose to lead in the Kingdom of God? My prayer is that through these seven blogs you have tasted the freedom that God offers us as steward leaders, and that these seven icons will provide you inspiration, challenge and encouragement as you continue on your journey as a faithful steward and steward leader.
 R. Scott Rodin, The Seventh Key. Kingdom Life Publishing, 2015, pp. 134-135.