Godly leaders operate with a sense of urgency.
It felt like I was struck by a lightning bolt when I started looking into Romans 12:8.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Notice what Paul says about how leaders should operate: “he who leads, with diligence.”
However, I happened to notice that the ESV uses the word zeal instead of diligence.
I was curious about this different word usage, so I looked up the Greek word behind it. What I found blew my mind. The Greek word is “spoudē” (σπουδή) which can be translated “with haste.”
Biblical Usage of Greek Word “Spoudē”
- haste, with haste
- earnestness, diligence
- earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything
- to give all diligence, interest one’s self most earnestly
σπουδή spoudḗ, spoo-day’; from G4692; “speed”, i.e. (by implication) despatch, eagerness, earnestness:—business, (earnest) care(-fulness), diligence, forwardness, haste.
Source: Blue Letter Bible Lexicon
The meaning of the word carries an implication of speed.
In fact, the words “spoudē” is derived from the Greek word “speudō” which literally means speed.
An aspect of Biblical leadership is to include a sense of haste.
This makes perfect sense, really. We are all about reconciling people to God. Without taking away from God’s work in that process, but acknowledging and embracing our own role, it makes sense to say that the quicker we move, the more disciples we can bring along.
Sure, there are times when God wants us to wait. To stop. To move slowly. To wait on Him.
And we need to remember that fast or big does not always equals good.
The important thing is to be obedient to how God is calling us to lead.
But I believe there is a default position that is laid out here by Paul in his letter to the Rome church.
Godly leaders walk with a sense of urgency.
A faith-filled leader is a fast leader.
An obedient leader is a fast leader.
Contrast with: A fearful leader is a slow leader.
I’m thinking to myself, “is this really talking about speed or am I reading too much into this?” Then Romans 12:11 hit me like a hammer. Paul says we should be “not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. (NASB)” The ESV translates it “Do not be slothful in zeal.”
Bethany and I have three kids, ages seven, five, and three. Getting out the door to school in the morning is always an adventure, and sometimes, depending on our moods (myself included), one or more of us are lagging behind to get to the car. If we lag too far behind, my daughter (who gets dropped off first) will be late for school. So what do I find myself saying 100 times every morning? “Be quick! Hurry up! Don’t be late!”
Here Paul is saying, “Hurry up, leaders! Lead with urgency! Don’t lag behind!”
Lord, let me be obedient. Let me be fast!