Trials and Sufferings – A Fast Track Process for Developing Leaders


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It is inevitable, all Christians will experience trials and sufferings because to extend God’s kingdom requires an immersion in the art of spiritual warfare. After Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey, they decided to retrace their missionary steps to visit the churches they had planted. What was their recurring message to all the churches they planted? They encouraged the young churches to remain true to the faith once delivered to them, exhorting them, “We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.”[i] The apostle Paul, a person familiar with trials and tribulation, alludes again in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NKJV) to a litany of personal experiences:

‘We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (NKJV), continues his transparency by listing his struggles:

‘From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; [in] journeys often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils of [my own] countrymen, [in] perils of the Gentiles, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

Leaders, who expect to extend their sphere of influence, should expect trials and tribulations to follow them as they pursue their God-given vision for their lives. As a matter of fact, upon Saul’s conversion, the Lord told Ananias in Acts 15:16, “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” As a leader, are you ready to make a difference for Christ? Of course you are! On the flip side, are you willing to suffer for his namesake? This question, which eludes many, can only be answered by your commitment to the one you love. It is for this reason, when people come to the altar to pray about their problems, I pray not for God to intervene and save them from their personal tribulation. I pray for a bold and steadfast spirit that by standing firm they may overcome, and in the process of overcoming, they become stronger, bigger and more daring as a person.

A metron is not only limited to geography and populations of people reached therein, it is also applicable for enlarging one’s spiritual endowments, talents, skills, anointing and character. For instance, many Christian leaders do not operate with the endowment of healing while others do, yet the bible emphatically notes you can access Kingdom endowments if you eagerly desire and pursue them. Allow me a personal testimony.

A Sphere Enlarged Through Personal Trial

On an autumn morning mid-September 1983 as I was preparing for my morning commute to Sacramento, a forty-five minute drive, to attend a full day of college classes. Then my mother called me over to her side and said, “I don’t understand what he is saying”, and handed me the phone. On the phone was one of my father’s co-workers who said, “Your father has been taken to Rideout Hospital and you need to meet me there as soon as possible.” His voice possessed a sound of urgency and severity. I did not know what to make of the call, so I left immediately.

Upon arriving I saw one of the most hideous scenes I had ever seen in my life. My father was laying on a gurney surrounded by six doctors. He had been in a serious, life threatening accident at work. That cool autumn morning my father had been teaching a new field laborer how to operate a tractor. My father had the man sit up on the seat to show him the gear system, while the tractor engine warmed itself. My father then stepped down from the tractor and stood next to the rear tire continuing the short lesson, not knowing the man had his foot on the clutch while the tractor was still in gear. All of the sudden the laborer unknowingly released the clutch. Can you guess what happened? The tractor engaged and leaped forward forcefully pinning my father upon the ground. Once on the ground, the tire spun relentlessly upon his middle torso. My father yelled and screamed but the man did not know what to do. The man finally had enough sense to turn the tractor off, which now settle on top of my father. The man ran to get help. Within a few moments help arrived, and soon after my father was rushed to the hospital in grave condition.

When I finally arrived to the hospital’s emergency area, my father lay coherently upon the gurney, and his appearance was shocking to say the least. His stomach was swollen like a woman’s stomach at her ninth month of pregnancy – the exterior of his stomach was littered with mixed colors of red, blue and purple due to his internal and external contusions. His veins visible and inflamed, vividly penetrating through his skin. The tractor had crushed his pelvis to pieces, broken both of his femurs, and many ribs. We exchanged a few intimate words. I told him how much I loved him before the six doctors rushed him into the surgery room.

I was a new Christian at the time, just a year into my walk with Christ. My new faith was tested early on, and all I could do at the time was lean upon the Lord, and call out for His mercy.

After six hours in surgery my father was immediately placed on critical life support with a slim chance of recovery. When I heard the news I was shaken but was determined to see him through this mess. At the time I felt something within me rise up, a firm belief God would heal my father and restore him fully. I confessed the little I knew of random scriptures. I cried out to God and I prayed regularly and earnestly for him, and when prompted by the Holy Spirit. Many times, during a Sunday morning altar call, I would go up sobbing, telling the lead pastor my story. Looking back I felt I had embarrassed him by my constant pleas for prayer and loud cries at the altar. I was broken for my dad. I would later come to understand my actions of “standing in the gap” for my dad were actually acts of “intercessory prayer” for someone who could not act for himself. I did not know this terminology yet. My infant faith grew during this time, as I stood on the word of God, and the limited knowledge I possessed.

In retrospect, my faith capacity was enlarged and fortified throughout this entire ordeal. After three months of being on life support, my father came out of his coma but was in traction for several more months. Several months later my father was finally released from the hospital, and was given a second chance at life. Today, my father has the full use of both legs, and most notably, he is enjoying his retirement on his ranch in Jalisco, Mexico, planting and reaping his crops. At the writing of this book my father is seventy-seven years of age.

Throughout this tormenting time I acquired the gift of healing but did not know it until I came across two random incidents. The first incident occurred when a good friend of mine and I were playing catch with a football. My friend being a good size and possessing formidable strength threw the ball so hard that I heard and felt my thumb pop on my left hand. I cringed at the sharp pain, which ran through my thumb and up my arm. Immediately, I verbalized these words, “In the name of Jesus, be healed!” Instantly, I felt something like a power surge come out from my arm, exiting outwardly through my thumb. In a “wink of an eye” I was healed. In the moment I yelled, exclaiming out loud, “I’ve been healed! I’ve been healed!” My friend, who was a Christian came over and heard my testimony. We both praised God together.

My second incident occurred as a college student, while I was working part-time as a Loss Prevention Agent for a large retail chain. It was my first day at this new location, and I was scheduled to work for an eight-hour shift. The store was large in size with three levels; a basement, the main floor and a second level. There were many stairs to climb up and down, unlike today, when cameras are used to detect and record shoplifters. As a Loss Prevention Agent, my duty was to walk around the store looking for shoplifters. At the end of an eight-hour shift I was so exhausted and my legs were extremely sore. When I got home that evening I immediately laid down on my bed. All the sudden I placed my hands below my belt line and said, “In the name of Jesus, heal my legs!” Again, a power surged through my arms and down my legs and the pain was gone. Once again, I raised my voice, “I’ve been healed!” My roommate ran into my room and said, “Is everything okay?” I said, “I’ve been healed!” My roommate was not a believer and thought my actions were a little strange but I knew something was different about me.

After seeking answers to this “new” power I possessed, I soon realized my faith was activated through my father’s trial, which imparted a greater capacity within me through my steadfast response to his accident. I was able to access a new authority and ability for healing. My spiritual sphere was enlarged within me through an unwelcomed trial. God must know something we do not see or know about ourselves. If God permits us to go through trials, He must see the seed of faith ready to root and sprout within us, and what we will become if stay strong and endure through the storms of life. The most important lesson I learned through this experience was being able to embrace my trial as learning and growing experience, which placed me at higher level of faith operation in Christ. James, in his epistle, notes:

‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:1-3 NKJV)

Another word used for “patience” in this passage is the word “endurance”. When one endures trials he or she grows in godly character and spiritual authority. A trial is simply God’s fast track process for developing leaders. If we trust and stand with Him through the trials that come our way, we become “complete, lacking nothing.” This insightful piece of wisdom from C.S. Lewis should encourage you as a leader, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” As painful as my trial seemed at the time, in the midst of it, I was being transformed in His image into a man of steel, which by far, attained for me a far greater glory outweighing my present struggles for my father’s healing.


[i] Acts 14:22 (NKJV)

Metron: The Measure of a Leader’s Influence


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‘Influence is to be measured, not by the extent of surface it covers, but by its kind.” William E. Channing

It is one thing to be a leader, but what separates any leader from becoming a masterful one? At what scale does one have to influence to separate oneself from a group of good leaders? I believe it starts when a leader receives a transfer of trust from those they desire to lead. You cannot have influence without trust, and trust is built through love. It is crucial for leaders today to build trust or what I call creating “shares of trust” with those they desire to lead. This happens when a leader leads unselfishly, building value and virtue, exuding integrity and confidence in others as they move forward with the common vision. Trust leads to a shift in power. When a leader builds trust they also amass power, and this power is the leader’s impetus to lead others. This power is known as referent power, which is synonymous with influencing. Without influence it will be difficult to lead any type of group, organizational, civic or cultural transformation. A masterful leader, therefore, is one who exerts influence for the purpose of transformation through collaborative effort. This collaborative effort between leaders and followers is the key to moving a vision forward towards concrete results.

This idea of building and transferring “shares of trust” sums up the life and leadership influence of Jesus of Nazareth. A transfer of influence came from the heavenly Father to His son, then from Jesus to his band of twelve disciples, and from Jesus’ twelve followers this heavenly transfer has influenced and transformed pagan and religious cultures in nations for over two millennia.

Just what is influence? According to a Google search, influence is “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something…” Influencerising.com views influence as “the ability to alter or sway an individual’s or a group’s thoughts, beliefs, or actions.”[i] In my view, influence is a personal catalog of transformative virtues emanating from within, which are expressed for the benefit and purpose of attracting others to engage in creating change and leading transformation. These qualities are a mixture of innate and learned abilities, which are cultivated over time, plus spiritual endowments bestowed by our Creator. In sum, influence is the original Law of Attraction for the purpose of wooing others, and persuading them to enter God’s flow or to fulfill a specific agenda.

An etymological search for the root meaning of the word influence revealed “a flow of water” or a “flowing into.”[ii] After reading this definition, my thoughts were immediately drawn to John 4:14, where Jesus provides us with a vivid picture of spiritual influence:

“Whoever drinks the water I give him (a flowing into) will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up (a flow of water) to eternal life.”

This inner release of “welling up” from within is the fountain of life people deeply yearn for. It’s the “well” of divine influence, which bubbles up from within you at the time of conversion and continues to manifest its divine stream of influence throughout your life, only if you stay on course to guard and nurture its precious flow. This divine influence is a person, not a thing or paradigm, who abides within you, releasing a supernatural flow of favor and anointing, while at the same time leveraging your talents, and gifts for influencing. It is one thing to have influence but how do you measure its effectiveness? Allow me to illustrate both natural and supernatural examples of influence.

Cultivating Influence

Influence is a gift and a study; it is acquired through learning and nurtured by growing. And, since you and I reflect both the spiritual dimension, as well as the physical dimension, we must learn to use our innate abilities given to us during the miracle of formation in our mother’s womb, as well as the spiritual endowments bestowed by our Creator upon our conversion. Therefore, for leaders seeking personal mastery, you and I must understand the painstaking effort of hours upon hours of disciplined study, learning and practicing their chosen craft to hone in the critical skills, abilities and talents required to build influence.

When you think of the great motivational speakers of our era, a few individuals come to mind. For me personally, I think of people like the late Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar, or Anthony Robbins, one of our contemporaries. Just how is their success measured? Is it measured by the thousands of people they have transformed by their uncanny ability to communicate life and leadership principles with clarity and flairs of humor? Can it be their charisma mixed with style of delivery? These great communicators of our day were not passive students of leadership by any means, but added value to people each day by being purposeful, engaging and being on the cutting edge of relevancy for their specific audience in time. These speakers, over a span of time, enlarged their capacities as great communicators in their area of expertise, which extended their sphere of influence throughout the business community, eventually becoming some of the pioneers of the personal development movement of the past half-century.

One thing is for certain, you cannot measure potential – only performance, since results carry the day over good intentions. We see this time and time again by people who have stretched themselves to enhance their personal and professional craft, which millions of Americans love and respect. Take into account, actors and actresses from the past and present, people like Jimmy Stewart, Marlon Brando, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, and actresses of the likes of Bettie Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet. All these artists have something in common, they are known for their work ethic, on and off stage and screen, which is evident through many of their memorable and endearing roles. Their success can be calculated by applying various measures; their over-the-top box-office sales, their acting prowess, believability on screen, and by the accolades and honors received year after year at annual award ceremonies.

Divine Influence

As a minister, when I reflect upon contemporary influencers of the faith, I cannot help but think of the likes of Evangelist Billy Graham, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastors’ Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Joel Osteen. From the inner well of the Rev. Billy Graham, we have seen a proven track record for soul winning and ministerial longevity. Bishop T.D. Jakes flavor is unashamedly communicating the truths of the gospel with persuasive and passionate preaching; Pastor Joel Osteen’s stream of influence is preaching a consistent message of positivity and hope, which attracts thousands of churchgoers and television viewers to hear his weekly messages. In addition, several millions of readers are drawn to peruse his books filled with life principles to live by. These modern day preachers’ sphere of influence is unique to each one, and can be measured by their personal integrity and ministerial longevity, and their masterful skills in communicating Biblical truth with simplicity, power and grace; each one is measured with a distinct style and substance.

In the book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, we are provided a list of heroes of the faith whose influence was measured by their simple deeds of faith. Faith was and still is God’s way of measuring success in the Kingdom, for without faith it is impossible to please God. These men and women of faith obeyed God’s call to serve their respective generation, which ushered them into a personal and glorious adventure. On many instances, their lives and contributions did not seem too inspiring, but their deeds glorified God, and this is the essence of expressing a divine influence.

You do not have to be an “outlier”, an extraordinary individual, to exert influence at a small or large scale. Influence can be exerted by anyone willing to pay the price for grooming personal, spiritual and professional mastery.

Influence is one thing but just what is a sphere of influence? And, just how does one begin to exert influence to enlarge their sphere? In the next chapter, I will define what a sphere is.

Spiritual Intelligence


Part III of a Four Part Series:

A friend of mine was telling me a story about the “favor” he had received from corporate executives of a large grocery store chain on the west coast. Previously he was unemployed looking for any type of work so he took a part time job at a grocery store selling brand food portions to customers from a food cart. Within a few weeks the store manager noticed his product sales go through the roof. This also caught the attention of top brass in the company who eventually offered him a fulltime job with a good salary and bonuses. In addition, he was asked to train local sales managers. He was so good at the initial training sessions that regional and corporate leaders came to his sessions. During one of these meetings my friend was asked about his secret sales magic. He simply responded, “It’s a gift from God.” A quick reply came from one of the executives, “Our company policy dictates you can’t bring up your religious beliefs in these sessions.” However, since he had so much favor from top brass and the store manager they simply allowed him to get by with his antics about God and religion. It seemed they didn’t want to disrupt the “sales magic” he possessed. When you have favor people will relax their policy guidelines and protocol to accommodate you. My friend finished his conversation with me with a grin on his face stating, “Next week they are flying me to California to train more corporate leaders. The favor is simply amazing.” As he talked I couldn’t help but feel favor oozing out of him. It was simply contagious! My friend acquired an irresistible likeability; gained access to people and places he did not have before, and was given unlimited boundaries to speak and to act. How does one acquire such favor?

Spiritual Intelligence is the ability to build and sustain a relationship with God where you build an awareness of His presence and voice, which draws Him closer to you. In time He then releases His unrelenting favor into your life. Favor can be defined in many ways. Cicero coined its original meaning; “to show kindness to someone” or a “gift given as a mark of favor.” Dr. Lance Wallnau defines favor as “the affection of God towards you that releases an influence through you so that other people are inclined to like, trust and cooperate with you.” For me favor is a measure of grace (God’s nature) bestowed on someone, imparting genuine and endearing qualities, which enable you to attract and influence others. As a leader you need the edge that God’s favor can produce for you. If God is for you who can be against you, right?

If God is for you who can be against you, right? How do you cultivate your relationship with God? Do you attract His presence? Do you feel God is working on your behalf, if so, how do you know that He is?