It's one thing to make a decision out of faith. It feels exciting and wonderful. It's quite another thing to actually live it out. | by Dale O’Shields

With the advance of every spiritual level and every church level, you will face new “devils.” I wish I had known this 30 years ago.

Our church has advanced through many levels to become significant in terms of size, attendance, and other things. In the process, I’ve learned that as you move to any new level, you're going to have to deal with “devils.” I’ve put “devils” in quotation marks because “devils” to me are not just demons. They can also be  problems and challenges. Anytime you go to another level, you're going to face another challenge in your life which means learning to deal with things differently than you've dealt with things before.

When you go to another level in your spiritual growth, in your church growth or even moving forward, there are issues. There are challenges. You're going to face problems you've never faced before.

  1. It takes work.

A few years ago, we decided to launch two campuses in one year in fairly close proximity to each other. One was in a university setting. One was in a building that we were leasing and building out. We had a lot going on with maintaining our other campuses plus all that was involved in opening these two new ones.

It's one thing to make a decision out of faith. It feels exciting and wonderful. It's quite another thing to actually live it out. When you start something, there's excitement and vision surging through you for what potentially can be.  It feels awesome when no one is telling you all the work and all the challenges that will go into it, but ministry is work. That's what I mean by a “devil.” You have to go after a “devil.”  You can’t chase “devils” out without work. You can’t chase “devils” out without energy. You can’t accomplish things without putting some pedal to the metal.

You've got to dig in and work, to engage and solve problems and to figure out processes. You've got to be strategic in your thinking. You've got to be tactical in your thinking. These are all things that you know. God gave you a mind and one of the reasons God gave you a mind is so that you would actually use it.

  1. It takes spiritual warfare.

Now let's shift. You can become stressed with the work of the ministry and yet you know you are to “trust in the Lord with all your heart. And lean not on your own  understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Why would God say “don’t use your own understanding”? That is because there are also devils when it comes to spiritual dimensions.  I didn't realize this in terms of growing our church initially. But I think I learned it fairly rapidly. Along the way, we have to come to realize that to break through in church growth, and in any new level in your spiritual journey, we have to acknowledge that dimension of a spiritual battle in the breakthrough we seek.

There are real spiritual forces that exist around us and there are real spiritual demons that exist. The unseen world is real, actually more real than the seen world. So if we're trying to handle the ministry out of the natural, out of what we see and how we process in the natural realm, we're not going to be prepared for long-term ministry. We have to understand the power of spiritual warfare.

Don’t get weird about this kind of stuff. But, the Bible really does talk about there being a devil, a crafty one. We need to be aware of his devices, not ignorant of his devices.

3. Spiritual leader vs business leader.

The Bible speaks of knowing the weapons of our warfare that are not carnal through God. They are mighty for the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). You have to be a prayer warrior. You have to fast. You have to know how to use the authority that you've been given by Jesus Christ. You have to have a solid sense of your position in Jesus, not fighting to win a battle, not fighting for victory, but alive in Christ, and living in the victory of Christ and the cross. You utilize these weapons because you are called to be a spiritual leader.

But understand this: To be a spiritual leader, you actually have to be spiritual.  It’s possible to be a leader without being spiritual.

I run a corporation and like most pastors, I have to respond to corporate responsibilities as a leader. But our primary job is to be a spiritual leader.

This means, we have to look past the natural. We have to hear a voice beyond our own understanding, past all of the noise of the world. We need to hear the voice of God as we make every decision. We need a word from God, an awareness of what we need, an ability to grab hold of God.

The bottom line is, as pastors and spiritual leaders, we need the capacity to chase out “demons” of every kind from our environment. That comes from doing hard work, persisting, enduring. It comes from learning how to use the weapons God gives us for spiritual warfare. And it means never abdicating our spiritual leadership for corporate or business leadership.

Monitor the fight as you advance through every level. Be ready to fight and deal with new devils. You will succeed.

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