At Work & Theology 101

Spiritual Gifts for Our Work: In Leadership and Speech

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Does the Holy Spirit empower you for work? Absolutely. Understanding the work of the Spirit in scripture helps us understand how the Spirit empowers us today. We see the Spirit working on three levels:

  • A cosmic level, in creation
  • An individual level, in conversion of new believers, giving of gifts, and sanctification
  • A theocratic level, in empowering Israel

While there are examples throughout scripture, for this study, I am focusing primarily on Old Testament examples. In a previous post, I discussed the work of the Spirit in establishing leadership and empowering and cultivating existing gifts. There are many more examples of the work of the Spirit that have implications for our work, including in our speech and in empowering us as leaders. You can check out my full paper on the topic, “Gifts of the Spirit in the Old Testament.”

The Spirit Inspires Speech

The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to speak God’s word. For instance, the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles alone mention quite a few prophets: Azariah, Jahaziel, Zechariah, and Amassi (2 Chron. 15:1-7; 20:14-17; 24:20; 1 Chron. 12:18). The first three are prophets in a more traditional sense and speak forth God’s word to a particular situation. The last one—Amassi—is interesting and perhaps the most relevant to discuss.

Amassi’s story takes place in the days after Saul died when David was in the wilderness at Ziklag. Various groups of people were coming to him professing loyalty. A group of thirty men from the sons of Benjamin and Judah came to David. He wanted to know if he could trust them or not, so he said to them:

If you come peacefully to me to help me, my heart shall be united with you; but if you betray me to my adversaries, since there is no wrong in my hands, may the God of our fathers look on it and decide.

Then the Spirit came upon Amassi, who was chief of the thirty, and he said,

We are yours, O David,
And with you, O son of Jesse.
Peace, peace to you,
And peace to him who helps you;
Indeed your God helped you!

Then David received them and made them captains of the band (1 Chron. 12:17-18).

The phrase, “The Spirit came upon Amassi,” literally means the Spirit “clothed” Amassi. Then he was able to speak, not so much a prophecy about the future as an affirmation of loyalty in the present. He was able to speak so persuasively that David took the thirty men and made them captains or chiefs of his mighty men.

The Spirit can do the same today, perhaps in a military context like the one above, in politics, in business, in education, or other situations. We can ask for the Spirit to give us persuasive speech so that others will have immediate confidence in the truth of what we say.

The Spirit Gives Power to Leaders and Administrators

When the prophet Samuel anointed Saul to be king, he said that when Saul met other prophets he would be spiritually transformed and empowered with prophetic gifts,

Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily and you will prophesy with them and be changed into another man (1 Sam. 10:6).

Saul was gifted to be able to lead Israel as king. This was what made it even more dramatic when, after Saul’s disobedience, Saul was told that the Lord would give his kingdom to another—“a man after His own heart” (1 Sam. 13:1-14).

In chapter sixteen, the Lord told Samuel to go to Jesse’s house, for one of Jesse’s sons would become the next king. One by one, Jesse’s seven sons were brought to Samuel, but the Lord indicated that none of these was the chosen one. Samuel asked, “Are these all the children?” Jesse responded, “No, there is the youngest who is out tending the sheep.” Samuel summoned this boy, David, and the Lord indicated that the young boy would be the next king. When Samuel anointed David, “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily on David.” In the next verse, “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul”(1 Sam. 16:13-14).

In what sense did the Spirit come upon David and leave Saul? It seems that David was given the gift of leadership commensurate to being a king while this gifting was taken from Saul. It wasn’t that Saul lost his salvation, but that the equipping to be king was taken away.

This helps explain why David cries out in Psalm 51:11, “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” David saw what happened to Saul as a result of his sin—his depression and despair (1 Sam. 18:10-15). David knew that as a result of his murder and adultery, the Lord could reject him as king. So he prayed that the anointing, empowering, or gifting not be taken away from him.

Although the context for this story is the theocracy of Israel, God can give gifts of leadership to people in political power or other leadership roles. This is not promised today, but it is a desirable gift and we can ask for the Lord to provide such empowerment. If he has done it before, who is to say he will not do it again?


Editor’s note: Learn more about spiritual gifts for work in Art Lindsley’s full paper on the topic: Gifts of the Spirit in the Old Testament. Read more about the application of your gifts in the workplace in How Then Should We Work?

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