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Spiritual Strongholds In Spiritual Leaders

Here is a trustworthy saying:
If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,
he desires a noble task.
Now the overseer must be above reproach,
the husband of but one wife,
temperate, self-controlled, respectable,
hospitable, able to teach,
not given to drunkenness,
not violent but gentle,
not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
He must manage his own family well and
see that his children obey him with proper respect.
(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family,
how can he take care of God's church?)
He must not be a recent convert,
or he may become conceited and
fall under the same judgment as the devil.
He must also have a good reputation with outsiders,
so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.(1 Timothy 3:1-7)

In the verses above, the apostle Paul listed the qualifications of overseers or pastors before they could minister and serve in the churches. Why did Paul lay down such stringent qualifications and prerequisites? I believe that he had already foreseen the pitfalls on the other side of leadership.

Secretly in motion are spiritual strongholds building up within the lives of Christians, leaders and followers. None of us are immune. We are all vulnerable to the spiritual forces that are actively coming against us, within our hearts, minds and bodies! Even the beloved psalmist, a man after God's own heart, King David committed great sins such as adultery and murder.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and
in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
but against principalities,
against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness
in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

These spiritual strongholds within us, if unresolved and submit under the Holy Spirit's leadership and jurisdiction, will eventually come under satanic influence and manipulations. Through them, Satan then controls the behaviors of Christians and the churches. We must identify the strongholds in our own hearts and lives before they destroy our relationship and standing with God.

Spiritual strongholds impregnate our lives with hopelessness and ungodliness that cause us to do and act against the will of God. Sometimes, strongholds are often made up of good thoughts. But these good thoughts are not necessarily godly thoughts! Many humanistic thoughts are good in nature but very often they are against the thoughts of God! Our own good thoughts can create a blockage for the excellent thoughts of God to come in. We often become presumptuous, believing that our good thoughts are the same as God's! We seldom suspect our good thoughts, and thus many strongholds in our lives remain undetected. This is the clever disguise of Satan, even as an angel of light, to deceive even the elect! Adam and Eve fell under his deception.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

Below is a table between the difference between natural & spiritual leadership:

Natural Leadership

Spiritual Leadership

Self confident

Confident in God

Knows men

Also knows God

Makes own decisions

Seeks God’s will



Creates methods

Follows God’s example

Enjoys to command others

Delights in obedience to God

Seeks personal rewards

Serves God and others


Dependant on God & interdependent on others

Loves self

Loves God, self and others

What are some of the strongholds in the lives of Christian leaders?

Of Reproachable Character
Inside and outside the church, the leaders are to be above reproach. But some Christian leaders have fallen into disgrace, and have many grounds for reproach or indictment of wrongdoings. When charges are pressed against them, the adversary finds many public openings to bring dishonor to the name of the LORD and the church! Smear campaigns, rumors and gossips about the integrity and character of Christian leaders abound in the news for the past 20 years.

The morals and trustworthiness of Christians are under constant subtle attacks. None surpasses that of sexual unfaithfulness. Some Christian leaders are not blameless on this vital issue. Unfaithfulness to one marriage partner is widespread among Christians. Pornography, adultery and sex outside marriage are rampant even in churches. Spiritual leaders should be faithful to God and their spouses.

The Christian leader must be gentle, not a lover of controversy. Some leaders have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talks, evil suspicions and constant frictions against other Christian leaders. Some are hot-tempered, and very quarrelsome.

Ungodly Habits
A leader must be prudent with sound judgment and self-control. This describes a well-balanced life resulting from self-restraint. This inner character comes from daily self-discipline.
But some leaders have no self-control. They have destructive, addictive, obsessive, compulsive, irrational and unacceptable behaviors. They have no personal mastery over their own lives, and yet they want to exercise control and power over others to direct and manipulate others.

Not Respectful Or Respectable
A leader should be respectable and of good behaviour. He should have reverence and respect for God, and he should also have respect for others. However, some leaders do not esteem others better than themselves, always looking at their own interests rather than those of others. Some are boastful and arrogant. In doing so, they lose the respect of others, both inside and outside the church.

Not Hospitable Or Approachable
A leader must be given to hospitality, open-handed to strangers, and ready to entertain them even at an inconvenient hour. Some leaders today do not have time for people, they only have time for projects, programs, things, activities and personal pursuits. Some are not hospitable and approachable. Some do not have close friends. Some do not visit their sick members in the hospitals or homes.

Unable To Teach
Leaders are trained to teach others. But some leaders today are not apt to teach. Some do not know the Bible or God well. Some teach methods and programs instead of exemplifying by godly examples. Some corrupt the doctrines and teachings of Christ to suit their own agendas. Worse still, some leaders are themselves unteachable.

Christian leaders should not be drunkards and drug addicts. But some are given to wine, or have abused and misused drugs. Some are addicted to pornography, prostitution, gambling and other vices.

Lover Of Money
A Christian leader should be a lover of God rather than a lover of money. But some are greedy, and seek ways and means to get money from their own church people. In trying to get rich, some fall into temptations and traps, and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into all kinds of evils. Some are not accountable, and have no integrity of character because of their love for money.

Broken Family Life
A leader must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. But some do not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church and family? Some leaders have divorced their spouses. Some of the children of church leaders have left the Christian faith. Leaders should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by taking care of their own family, and honoring their own parents.

Spiritual Pride
A leader should be humble. However, some have become proud over time as they become prominent and well-known. Some pride themselves in their church forms of services and ceremonies, songs and sermons. Some pride themselves in church structures, programs, activities and buildings. Some are into satisfying self instead of pleasing God. Some have a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. Some have turned their churches into show business with themselves becoming celebrity stars!

A leader should be a man or woman of prayer. But some leaders take things in their own hands. They trust themselves more than they trust God. They plan their own decisions instead of seeking God's will. They become independent instead of dependent on God! They also have little desire for fellowship with God. Trusting more on their own works and efforts rather than on the power of God. Controlled by the flesh and not the Spirit. Believing that they can accomplish the work of God in their own strengths.

Christian pastors and leaders are as human as we are. They are subjected to all kinds of temptations just like us, even more so as they are on the frontlines and on the centre stage. Jesus was tempted by Satan, but He overcame all the temptations against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

After David sinned and repented, God forgave him, and restored him. We should not judge our leaders as we are also vulnerable to spiritual warfare and attacks. We should always uphold them in prayers! We are our brother's keeper. We should remember to bring them and their families before the altar of God. In doing so, we stand together with them, putting on the whole armor of God, praying always with all kinds of prayers and supplications in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the people of God.

Written on:
29 July 2007