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We hear a lot of talk today about “sustainability.” Business gurus, scientists and politicians look for better ways to ensure sustainability in business and on our planet. Watching a news report recently on this topic caused me to consider, “What makes for true sustainability in church leadership?” This topic is of utmost importance in light of the “fields … white for the harvest” (John 4:35) and the growing need for laborers. I went to one of my favorite passages for the answer.

In John 15, Jesus describes sustainability in this manner: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain” (John 15:4, 5, 16 NKJV).

David’s life is a great example regarding sustainability in leadership. His “abiding” is seen through his constant inquiring of the Lord about every situation in his early leadership life. Unfortunately, we also see the sad results for David, his family and the nation of Israel when he moved away from this dependency on God. The downfall began when David became confident in his own ability to lead and make decisions on his own.

What about us? Are we living sustainable lives? Personal consultant, pastor and author Nancy Ortberg wrote,”Extraordinary leadership comes from a deep well.” I would add that depth of soul comes from the well of life in the Holy Spirit. That well draws our roots deep, which in turn produces healthy branches tightly grafted to the vine. A tree full of healthy fruit is a great picture of what our lives and leadership can be when we are tightly grafted to Jesus Christ. This is the posture of sustainable fruitfulness.

A very important priority for us is the health of our leaders. I encourage you to read Pastor Wayne Cordeiro’s recent release, Leading on Empty. His book is full of practical ways to order our lives for sustainability.

Prayer focus: As we pray for the leaders below, let’s also focus our prayer this week on the health of all of our Foursquare family. Pray that God will give us wisdom regarding the stewardship of our lives and our families. May He grant us courage to obey that wisdom even when it seems we are swimming upstream, and may we experience the fruit from abiding in Him … sustainability!

is the former general supervisor of The Foursquare Church. She now serves as the dean at Portland Seminary.