In the movie 300 King Leonidas played by Gerard Butler gives audience to a horribly disfigured hunchback who wishes to join Leonidas and the army of 300 Spartans who faced the god/King Xerxes on the battlefield. Du0ring this exchange the hunchback claiming to be the disfigured son of a Spartan warrior demonstrated his spear fighting technique in hopes to redeem his father’s honor. King Leonidas, who is the captain of the highly trained and very deadly Spartan guard then asks him to raise his shield and demonstrate his proficiency with the Spartan Shield. The exchange went like this,
(The Hunchback) I will earn my father’s armor, noble kin…by serving you in the battle.
(The Hunchback stabs violently with spear)
(King Leonidas) A fine thrust.
(The Hunchback) I will kill many Persians.
(King Leonidas) Raise your shield.
(The Hunchback) – Sire?
(King Leonidas) – Raise your shield as high as you can.
(The Hunchback Struggles to raise shield in pain)
(King Leonidas) Your father should have taught you how our phalanx works. We fight…as a single, impenetrable unit. That is the source of our strength. Each Spartan protects the man to his left…from thigh to neck with his shield. A single weak spot and the phalanx shatters.
(King Leonidas) From thigh to neck, Ephialtes. I am sorry, my friend.
(King Leonidas) But not all of us were made to be soldiers. lf you want to help in a Spartan victory…
(The Hunchback) – Yes.
(King Leonidas) Clear the battlefield of the dead, tend the wounded, bring them water…but as for the fight itself…I cannot use you.
The Front lines are not for Everyone
This scene is a fitting description of what conditions must be like to achieve victory on the battlefield. It is not a matter of how skilled, intelligent, and passionate you personally are, but it has everything to do with your ability to fight in cohesion with others. As Leonidas pointed out to the hunchback Ephialtes, a fighting force is only as good as the man next to you. If that formation, has people who are prideful, spiteful, self-willed, flawed of character, irrational and jealous of leadership then there is no way they will successfully conquer the enemy. A fighting force filled with people like this only end up conquering themselves long before they ever engage in any real fight.
The frontlines are for disciplined, mission orientated, passionate and fiercely loyal people only. If you are of an independent spirit, incapable of following strong leadership, and feel the need to second guess every decision along the way, then any military man will tell you that you are not cut out for the frontlines. There is a reason that extensive boot camps and trainings are required before putting together offensive and defensive military units. The self-importance and self-will needs to be stomped out of most people before they can be counted on by anyone who is already engaged in battle. This is true on the physical frontlines but especially true for those who are engaged in the spiritual battle.
When King Leonidas saw that the hunchback was proficient at attacking but was useless, or even dangerously vulnerable on the defensive game he had to send him away with what I feel is a huge life lesson for anyone looking to be on the frontlines. He said,
“But not all of us were made to be soldiers. lf you want to help in a Spartan victory…Clear the battlefield of the dead, tend the wounded, bring them water…but as for the fight itself…I cannot use you.”
Making that distinction between those who are ready for the spiritual war and those who should be positioned behind the scenes cleaning up the damage wrought be the enemy has to be made. Both are important positions certainly, but only those on the actual line of battle will be constantly taking on fire. So therefore those who are actively engaged in the fight are always going to be very selective as to who they fight alongside, and even demanding from those who serve along with them given the life threatening nature of being in battle. Boot camp and training camps are designed to weed out the unfit prior to them ever making their way to the frontlines. Allowing that one reckless, emotional, irrational individual to move to the frontlines could put the entire mission in jeopardy.
So when God opens up a front, and raises up strong, experienced leadership to rally people behind a mission objective, the first order of business is to put that force to the test. All those that answered the call to arms are not necessarily meant to be there.
Here are 5 characteristics that leaders must identify in others, and determine whether they will be an asset or a liability towards any mission.
Self-importance has no place in a spiritual soldiers life. People with self-importance think so highly of themselves that they jeopardize the mission. They always feel they are better leaders, more experienced, have better ideas, or even better equipped than the person who is currently in leadership, but if they can’t check their egos, opinions, and self-importance at the door you can be assured that they will be the source of major strife and contention with in the fighting unit. People that have too much self-importance and pride make awful soldiers seeing they can’t be led or submissive, nor can they be good leaders seeing they are in it for themselves, and not the universal mission.
Leadership Pro-Tip: People who are egotistical by nature always point to themselves, are hyper-critical by nature and rarely have any real accomplishments to their name. People who are accomplished don’t have to announce their experience and exploits. Their reputation for getting things done, being mission oriented and humble in service to the cause will always proceed them.
“For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” 2 Corinthians 10:18
One of the ways the enemy loves to disrupt the mission of a fighting unit is by seeding lies and misinformation into the camp. People who are not cut out for the frontlines believe everything they hear, no matter who tells them or what the read on the internet. Instead of remaining mission focused, they give hear to every bit of gossip or hear-say that comes their way. They have no discernment as to the credibility of the info they are hearing, and almost always make it a point of contention within the ranks. They take everything personally and will never give leadership the benefit of the doubt as to the veracity of their own information, and almost always think they have the better inside scoop. As a result they become cancer to the larger fighting force by seeding false information among the ranks undermining leadership and the mission objectives.
Leadership Pro-Tip: There is no way you can prevent people from talking out of turn, sowing discord and gossiping among a fighting force, but you can weed out those who have a propensity towards such action before it gets out of hand. Depending on your leadership style there are multiple ways to do this. You can have trusted people filter complaints upward, you can brief trusted people often as to mission information that can be filtered down as a means to stifle misinfo, you can even test people on their loyalty to the mission objectives on occasion. Those who are distractions to the mission should always be removed. Better a man down than having a man sowing strife and division, nothing will sideline a worthwhile cause like a foolish talker.
“A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness”. Proverbs 12:23
To be in the freedom/spiritual war you have to have courage of heart. You cannot be prone to fear-based decision making processes. One of the key factors as to whether you are fit for the frontlines revolves around your ability to know how to control your animal panic when things heat up. People who give in to panic cannot be trusted in any fight. Many people think that they are cut out for frontline ministry work but in reality the only reason they are there is to feign courage in hopes others will do all the fighting and protecting for them. They aspire in their minds towards illusions of grandeur, but in reality when the spiritual bullets start to fly, they panic, lash out at the wrong people, hide when they should stand up, or stand up and contest when they should fall in line. Nothing they do is rational, well-thought-out, nor has the best interest of the group in mind. They only have themselves in view and therefore will always make decisions that are detrimental to the whole.
Leadership Pro-Tip: If people are banning together because they are fleeing some perceived enemy, then that is a huge indicator that they are not cut out for the frontlines. The frontlines are for those that are taking the attack to the enemy, opening up new fronts, and fearlessly bringing more attention to their cause no matter what the consequences. People who flee to a fighting force are called refugees and need to be ushered out to other ministries rather than pretend they are in a position to help fight.
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1
Overly emotional people like fearful people are not good decision makers. They are easily swayed by other people’s passionate appeals away from their objective and missions. They can’t reason for themselves because their emotions will override any reasonable options. They are often given over to anger, fear, anxiety, and worry because they have no control or discipline over their minds and hearts. They make emotional bonds with people and are often loyal to those bonds rather than loyal to the mission.
Leadership Pro-Tip: Emotional people are not logical, they are not professional, they can be easily hurt, and manipulated and most importantly they don’t belong on the battlefield of war. In war we have to make logical, hard choices that reinforce the success of the mission objectives. In spiritual combat as well as physical combat emphasis should always be placed on logic, reason, and never making rash decisions on partial information. Always wait until factual information presents the clear choice. Everybody can think back on times that emotions controlled your tongue or decision making process and know that decisions made in anger, fear, sadness, or grief hardly ever end up well. Often times overly emotional decisions and reactions will result in lost friends, family relationships, jobs and in spiritual warfare they can cost you the battle.
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16:32
Anybody who has rallied to a mission cause that is not their own, must learn to come under authority. Proper leadership and authority is set by God. If a man has been allowed to walk a path that lends experience, resources and abilities towards the leadership of a much needed objective then it is our duty to submit ourselves to that authority. We are all leaders sometimes and we are all followers sometimes, this is a universal truth. Even among a group of people that has a distinctive leader, that leader will follow the advice of some within the group as well as take charge over other matters. Understanding, and perceiving those dynamics are usually pretty self-evident for most. But for some people they can careless who is set over what. People who see those dynamics and then willingly buck those dynamics for whatever reason should never be in frontline positions. They will almost always make decisions outside of what is best for the group because they can’t submit themselves to the authority structures that are in place. The world through PC culture tries to say everybody is equal, this simply is not true, there are people who are always better at something. We must be able to recognize strength and get out of the way so they can operate without resistance, if that is what needs to be done to further the mission objectives.
Leadership Pro-Tip: Identifying people that can’t take no for an answer, or complain, or will go around people in leadership is a must when determining whether they are cut out for the frontlines or not. There is a reason why positions and charges are given and that is to assure the success of the mission. People who don’t see the need for other peoples, talents, resources, skills, and strength of character as essential towards success should never be taken seriously or utilized. The fact is that everything worthwhile almost always takes a team of highly dedicated and motivated individuals to accomplish.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
In the spiritual war you have the status quo ministries and then you have the ministries that are actually engaged in hand to hand combat on a national level. The fighting ministries are positioned by God and have a very finely laid out mission and goal. It is important that leadership maintains the goal because that goal was seeded, germinated and brought to fruition by God Himself. It is God that establishes these types of ministries and it will be God who equips these types of ministries to fight in the position they are in. Whether they are politicized churches, apologetic organizations, or missionary groups they are going to be targeted differently by the enemy than your average church on the street. The church on the street is more along the lines of what Leonidas said, “Clear the battlefield of the dead, tend the wounded, bring them water.” These average churches on the street corner are dealing with the wounded and fallout from a wicked predatorial culture, while the frontline ministries are taking the battle to the enemy and fighting on a national stage with the idea that they are regaining lost battleground.
People that don’t belong on the frontlines almost always first try to co-opt the frontline ministries, they will then seed division, then finally go away seeing that none of those things work. So those folks who are called to the battlefield and work in one of these missions are almost always taking flack from the enemy, but they are also taking it from inside their ranks by those who have no business being there.
Frontline missions must have a testing ground to see who can serve the ministry objectives. A perfect soldier will serve without compliant, who can sacrificially give without reward, who can follow without distraction and who can lead with the mission in mind instead of their own agenda or egos getting in the way.
It is a most challenging dynamic, and is in constant flux, but can succeed when the mission is clearly defined, there is clearly laid out structures of authority that reinforce that mission, and also there are soldiers who police the efforts making sure that the objectives are being met and followed by everyone from the top to the bottom of the organization. So understand that not all ministries are the same, some are behind the lines cleaning up and working with the wounded of this world, and others are ferociously trying to take this fight to the enemy on a national stage. They are not the same, they have very different dynamics and they also will attract very different types of Christians. It is important to realize that, and if your not up for both the fight and the discipline of spirit don’t show up at a frontline ministry. Your presence, your ideas, even your spirit will be a disruption to those who have a heart and passion for the fight.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:2-4
Article reposted with permission from Jason Charles.