I’ve been working my way thru General Lee’s Army by Glatthaar these last three weeks during our Gettysburg student leadership conference. I was struck over and over again by the critical nature of leadership in the battle between “flesh and blood.” I’m confident the same reality exists in the spiritual battle—leaders make the difference between victory and collapse.
I walked again last week the short mile that Pickett’s division charged against the bloody angle on Cemetery Ridge. Pickett would lose half his men on that fated charge, but as equally tragic was the lost of over 17 brigade and regimental commanders. The Army of Northern Virginia couldn’t afford to lose seasoned leadership, especially those “battlefield leaders” who directed the “units of maneuver” (brigades and regiments) in Napoleonic warfare. Following Gettysburg, Lee would increasingly find it difficult to find and develop such leaders. Several times in the Wilderness battles of 1864 Lee would have to charge to the front to lead brigades and regiments at strategic points during a fight. In each instance, those particular units wouldn’t allow him to lead in such dangerous situations–demonstrating again and again that even the lowest ranking soldiers recognized “good leadership is critical and can’t be wasted.”
Paul knew that kingdom and movement building depends as equally upon leadership. “Be strong” he writes Timothy, “entrusting what you have learned to faithful men and women who can teach others. . . and so prove to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Perhaps his warning to Timothy about “entangling in civil affairs” relates directly to our need as “leaders” to obey our commander by consciously and continually “multiplying leaders.” Kingdom victory depends upon it.