HE’D BEEN A RESPECTED MINISTER for seventeen years. Week after week he reverently led worship services, preached relevant sermons, and administered the church ordinances. He’d performed dozens of weddings and funerals. Still, a nagging sense of uneasiness tugged at his soul. He sensed there ought to be more spiritual power in his ministry.
He later claimed: “Oh, the deceit of the human heart! I knew how unfit I was, Oh, I would question my salvation, because I tried to live consistently. But I knew barrenness . . . barrenness in my spirit.” As time passed his discomfort intensified. Finally, in desperation, he announced to his concerned family: “I’m going to my study and I want you to leave me alone. I’m going to seek a meeting with God.”
He cloistered himself in his study and committed to pray until God freed him. At one point his sixteen-year-old daughter pled with her father, “Daddy, whatever it costs, go through with God.” After spending several hours before the Lord, the desperate pastor experienced a profound, life-changing encounter with God early in the dawn.
Later, he claimed: “After spending seventeen years in a barren wilderness, baffled and frustrated in Christian work and witness, I suddenly came to realize that God had made provision for clean hands and a pure heart. And on my face in my own study at five o’clock in the morning I came to know the recovering power of the blood of Christ . . .”
Duncan Campbell had been renewed. Immediately, others began experiencing revival as well. Campbell preached in meetings across Scotland. Everywhere he went, God’s power was manifested. In 1949 he was invited to conduct a ten-day series of revival services at Barvas on the Isle of Lewis. After his first message, it seemed as if nothing extraordinary had occurred. As he prepared to leave, however, the Spirit suddenly descended upon the congregation. To Campbell’s surprise he discovered several hundred people gathered outside the church doors. They had arrived from all over the region, with no sense of why they had come except they felt compelled to do so.
As the weeks passed, more and more unusual events took place. Four hundred people gathered at the police station during the early morning hours and Campbell preached to them. After one service, he passed people kneeling by the roadside overcome with conviction of their sin, crying out to God for forgiveness.
One evening he was made aware that a large crowd had spontaneously assembled in a large field. There were too many people to fit in the church so they gathered outdoors. Campbell preached to them and many were converted. The revival swept across the Hebrides Islands for several years.
Twenty years later, the elderly Campbell was in Saskatoon, Canada, preaching at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He declared his belief that revival was coming to western Canada and it would begin at that church. Within two years the revival he foretold had come.
God chose to fill Duncan Campbell with spiritual power. After his life-changing encounter with God, his preaching took on new life. Even when he delivered sermons he had preached before, there was a significant difference. Campbell observed: “I went out to preach the same sermons that I’d been preaching for seventeen years . . . with this difference—that I saw hundreds converted, hundreds brought savingly to Christ.”
The Holy Spirit anointed his ministry and God used him powerfully. The key was not in Campbell’s preaching skills but in God’s powerful presence. The difference the Holy Spirit makes in a life is astronomical. No one, no matter how creative or talented, can duplicate or manufacture what the Spirit can do in the life of someone yielded to God.
Joshua was a skilled military leader but his success came from his walk with God, not from his military prowess. He needed more than strategic planning to accomplish God’s purposes. He needed God. This chapter will examine some of the ways God’s presence made a pronounced difference in Joshua’s leading.
Henry Blackaby, Called to Be God’s Leader: How God Prepares His Servants for Spiritual Leadership(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006).
I have recently written a 6-week study of Called to Be God’s Leader–a Study of the life of Joshua
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