“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3
We speak a lot about leadership. Being strong leaders, focused leaders, and growing as a leader.
But how do we make others better when we aren’t leading? Do we lead from behind?
During the Second Great Awakening in America, Charles Finney was in the forefront among the great evangelists. God was using him to change the culture of the church. He began what we call modern day evangelism.
Many people know him.
However, few know the name, Daniel Nash.
Daniel Nash was born in 1775 at an unknown place in the USA. No one knows what happened in his life before he was 40.
What we do know about him is at the age of 40 he became the pastor of a Presbyterian church in upper New York State. During his first year there, around 70 people were saved in something of a mini-revival.
But he withdrew after being voted out of the church. The rejection from those he loved wounded him deeply. Also, as a result of a serious eye infection, he spent several weeks in a dark room where he could not read or write.
The broken preacher began to pray earnestly, and so began one of the greatest prayer evangelism ministries ever.
Nash, at the age of 48, dedicated his life to prayer. Long before Finney would arrive in a town, Nash would be there in an empty cellar or boarding house room praying for the power of God to enter the city.
Finney told this story: “When I got to town to start a revival, a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house.”
The lady said, “Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food.”
She continued,“I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?”
“No, it isn’t necessary,” Finney replied. “They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.”
Finney knew that God sent Nash to help make him a better preacher. Finney said this about Nash, “He concentrated entirely on praying for people who were so hard that they could not be reached in any other way.”
Nash is a mighty example of how God changed a man’s circumstance to make someone else better. We don’t talk about that much, but how many of us have had people who have strengthened our faith?
Being fired as a pastor isn’t what preachers aspire to. It is even viewed as negative on our resume. But God has a way of taking our worse tragedy and changing it to a mighty triumph.
Within four months of Nash’s death, Finney left evangelism for the pastorate. The great prayer warrior of his crusades was gone.
If you want to see the grave of Daniel Nash, you have to drive to upper New York, almost to the Canadian border. There, in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road, you will find a tombstone that says it all:
Laborer with Finney
MIGHTY IN PRAYER
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