When is it Spiritual Attack?
I am not a guy who sees a demon under every rock but I do have a pastoral file for “Spiritual Attack.” The one thing I have learned over the past thirty years of ministry is that if the attack is spiritual in nature, good business practice (even when baptized) won’t address it. Spiritual problems can only be addressed by spiritual solutions.
Here are a few of my filters and criteria for discerning if I have a leadership, personality or systems problem or if we are under Spiritual Attack.
Possible Indicators of Spiritual Attack:
- Arrives after significant Holy Spirit movement
- Practical solutions fail to address simple challenges
- No flagrant sin involved
- Inability to nail down root causes to an ongoing problem
- Situation is more significant than the sum of its parts
- Energy is being exhibited around non-missional things
- Timing around major growth opportunities
- Neglect of spiritual disciplines and spiritual leadership (have created footholds)
- Situation brings out the worst in everyone
- Unholy positioning
- People actively working toward destruction of others
- Situation does not lead to personal repentance
- Condemnation rather than conviction
- Common mission lost in personal agenda
If we determine something to be a Spiritual Attack, here is how we counter-attack.
- Prayer A great question to ask is, “How many actual human hours have you spent in prayer about your situation?” Talk less. Pray more.
- Identification of strongholds List in a single word what is going on in your situation (i.e. confusion, gossip, self-pity, ambition, pride, lust). List these things on a board and specifically pray against them.
- Fasting How serious are you about this?
- Personal repentance Repenting of any intentional or unintentional role I may have played in a difficult situation never has a downside.
- Renewed commitment to the missional good Our mantra is discern, pray, repent and move on toward the mission!
No matter how well you lead, there will be storms in a fallen world.
- Teach Spiritual Warfare to the best of your understanding
- Encourage people to identify and activate their Spiritual Gifts
- Get serious and intentional about prayer and devotion
- Resist the devil
- Engage in fervent prayer (learn how to pray in such situations and solicit the prayers of those who already know how)
- Learn to catch potential attacks early (early diagnosis of spiritual attack in the future can be a game changer)
I am far from an expert here and I fully realize that I am much more considered a practical leader than a hyper-spiritual leader. However, I have become convinced that learning to identify what is (and is not) a spiritual attack, employing a strategy for conducting spiritual warfare and leading spiritually is the most practical thing in the world.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.