- Written by Andy Searles
Many distinctive components separate Christian leadership from leadership within a secular organization. The servant attitude, our bottom line (people!), the fact that we exist for those who are not a part of us. Another distinctive is ‘Invisible Leadership.'
Invisible Leadership (IL) is the supernatural ability to see beyond what is visible before us. IL leads people toward all the necessary resources that are needed and promised to fulfill God’s purposes. A role of a Christian leader is to lead not from the ‘visible’ (what we see), but from the invisible (what we don’t see!). Christian leadership is about seeing beyond the budget struggles, the systemic functions, the relational dynamics, etc. – with eyes of faith – into God’s reality.
The prophet Elisha functioned in this way. There was a battle raging among the Israelites, and the Arameans and the King of Aram are getting poorly beaten…
2 Kings 6:11 "This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, "Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?" 12 "None of us, my lord the king," said one of his officers, "but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom." 13 "Go, find out where he is," the king ordered, "so I can send men and capture him." The report came back: "He is in Dothan." 14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. 16 "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Elisha, upon waking up in the morning is told that armies of the enemy surround them. He exercises invisible leadership as he says in faith, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Elisha’s servant was only able to see just the immediate reality - a City surrounded by enemies. But Elisha exercised ‘invisible leadership’ and saw a larger army covering the hills that surrounded the city. The city was occupied – that was the reality that the servant could see - but, through the eyes of faith, Elisha was able to ‘invisibly see’ that the hills surrounding the city were covered with influential friends who outnumbered the foes. Vast resources were available to win the battle…. just beyond the visible reality. Elisha was able to supernaturally see what God was doing just beyond reality when reality looked pretty bleak.
Elisha then prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened to what God was doing in the invisible. As the servant’s eyes were opened, he too saw what had been ‘invisible’ outside the lens of faith. One of the roles of a Christian leader is to open the eyes of those we lead to see the invisible.
The Apostle Paul understood invisible leadership as well when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:18 – “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The phrase, “Fix our eyes” literally means an intense glare, a ‘laser focus.'
A study of the life of Jesus and his leadership style shows us that Jesus led from and into things that weren’t at first sight, visible or available. Jesus led by looking into the ‘invisible.' He saw
- Disciples that didn’t exist
- Opportunities that didn’t exist
- Resources that didn’t exist
- Volunteers that didn’t exist
- Leaders that didn’t exist
Jesus saw us in our sin, our darkness, and our defeat and saw what we would look like if we could be forgiven and cleansed of their sin. I am so grateful that Jesus exercised ‘invisible leadership’ when He first looked at me.
Spiritual leaders must live a step ahead. Not looking solely at and being consumed just by what we can see, but leading towards (and from) the invisible resources that God has just in front of us if we could only step out in faith. In the kingdom, the current reality is never a reason to say ‘no.'