Originally published as Shoe-Leather Commitment


J. Oswald Sanders

Chicago, Moody Press, 1990


Sanders, a former director of OMF, carried on an international preaching ministry well into his ‘90s.  Spiritual Leadership is one of his best-known books.  This book is an excellent personal study guide in regard to “the standards—the underlying principles that are to be incorporated into the lifestyle of the disciple.” (9)


“The message Jesus proclaimed was a call to faith with obedience.  He doesn’t want us to simply believe His teachings—He wants us to live them. (back cover)


“It is the privilege and responsibility of the whole church to respond in obedience and give the whole gospel to the whole world.” (Matthew 28:19-20) (8)


Disciple means “a learner or pupil who accepts the teaching of Christ, not only in belief but also in lifestyle….learning with the purpose to obey what is learned.  It involves a deliberate choice, a definite denial, and a determined obedience.” “To some…the radical demands of Christ may seem excessive and unreasonable.” (8) 


“Obedience is evidence of the reality of our repentance and faith.”  “Saving faith is more than just understanding the facts and mentally acquiescing.  It is inseparable from repentance, submission, and a supernatural eagerness to obey.” (19)


“The first condition of discipleship is an unrivaled love for Christ.” Likewise it is “an unceasing cross-bearing.” “It involves a willingness to accept ostracism and unpopularity with the world for His sake.” It is also “an unreserved surrender.”  “The first condition had to do with the heart’s affections; the second with life’s conduct; the third with personal possessions.” “Christ must be given preeminence over all earthly possessions.” (20-22)


Evidences of discipleship include continuance (If you continue in my word – as rule of life in daily practice), love (You will be known as disciples by your love for one another and you are obligated to share the selfless, forgiving, sacrificial love of Christ with others), and fruit (By bearing fruit in the inward life and in outward ministry).  “It is as we apply the cross to our lives and die to the self-dominated life that the Spirit can make our lives fruitful.” (26-31)


“Discipleship is a whole time job and a whole life job.”  “All other interests must come second if one is a true disciple.  …where there is a clash of interest, Christ can be divisive.”  “There are very many who say, ‘Oh, I am willing to go’—but they don’t go.  The backward pull is too strong.” (35-38)


“Jesus did not commission His disciples to go and make believers of all nations, but disciples….” (42)


“Is Christ still king of my life in daily practice?”  “Submission means the complete surrender of our rights.  That sounds a frightening prospect, but the experience of millions has proved that it is the path of unimagined blessing.”  “We are His by self-surrender.  All that we have we hold as trustees, not as owners.”  (44-45)


We are called to unquestioning obedience.  “The test is not what I say but what I do.” (46) 


“The Holy Spirit is sent to enable the disciple to keep Christ on the throne of the believer’s life, and He delights to do it.” (47)  “The Third Person of the Trinity is willing to become the active, though secret, Partner of the disciple in his walk and witness.”  “It is so easy to forget Him or to ignore Him unconsciously, and yet He is active in every aspect of life.”  (Jn 14:15-17) (50)


“Have we been guilty of trying to make use of Him instead of allowing Him to make use of us?” (52)


“Only twice in Scripture is Christ specifically stated to be our example: once in connection with service, and, significantly, the other in connection with suffering (1Peter 2:21)  “The highest honor lies in the lowliest service.”  “Jesus equated it with greatness.”   Jesus emptied himself of self-will and self-sufficiency.  (58)


“He evinced an unshakable confidence in the fulfillment of His Father’s purposes and in the coming of the kingdom.” (60)


“Are we making the most of our lives?  Are we exercising our maximum influence for our Lord?”   “God needs great people whose dominant ambition is to further the glory of God.” (64)


“God’s revealed purpose is to produce disciples who will reflect the perfect humanity of His Son in both personal life and Christian service.”  “The first indispensable step of submission to the lordship of Christ is giving Him the place of authority: Who makes the decisions? “While we spend time gazing at the Christ who is revealed in the Scriptures and long to be more like Him, the Holy Spirit silently effects the progressive change.” (75-7) 


Because he [Paul] was so dependent on Christ, he could be independent of circumstances.” (78)


“In one sense, life consists largely of making habits and breaking habits, for we are all creatures of habit.”  “We are now indewelt by the Holy Spirit, whose supreme desire is to make us like Christ.  To that end, God has promised to supply both the impulse and the power.”  “God does not act instead of us: it is a partnership.” (80)


“In reality there should be no such thing as an undisciplined disciple.”  “One of the clearest evidences that the Holy S”pirit is working in power in our lives is seen not merely in our emotional experience, but in an increasingly disciplined lifestyle.” (85)


“Every disciple of the compassionate Christ will be concerned to see that the unevangelized millions will have an opportunity to hear the gospel.” (94)


“Eyes that look are common.  Eyes that see are rare.” (95)


“The highest expression of compassion is compassionate action; otherwise, it is only stillborn sentiment.” (96)


“To the maturing disciple, God’s interests will always be paramount.  The prayers of the immature Christian usually revolve around self.” (97)


“Prayer is the most formidable and potent [weapon] in our conflict with ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12)” “The fulcrum on which defeat or victory turns is our ability to pray aright and make intelligent use of our weapons.”  “God delights to answer daring prayers that are based on His promises.”  “All difficulties are the same size to God.” (98-100)


“…in the interest of the gospel the disciple of Christ may need to renounce some things that are perfectly right and legitimate.”  “[Paul] affirms that he is ready to forgo any right he may have, and forsake any privilege, out of love for Christ and in the interests of the progress of the gospel.”  (105)


“If we are willing to give up only wrong things for Jesus, never let us talk about being in love with Him.  Anyone will give up wrong things if he knows how, but are we prepared to give up the best we have for Jesus Christ?  The only right a Christian has is the right to give up his rights.”  (quoting Oswald Chambers) (106)


“On earth He [Jesus] surrendered His right to the comforts of home life, the right to the congenial company of heaven, and at the last, the right to life itself.”  “[Sacrifice] is the ecstasy of giving the best we have to the one we love the most.” (107)


“He never penalizes those who surrender their rights in this sphere.” (110)


“Our real riches are what go into our character, and these abide with us eternally.”  (111)


“We do not become more godly automatically.  Becoming more godly rests in our own hands, and as Paul says, it involves training.” (115)


“Is my progress in the spiritual life so obvious that it is clearly visible to those with whom I live and work or to whom I minister?  Or is my spiritual life static?” (117)


“God is supremely skillful in the molding of human lives.  He is no experimenter.  He makes no mistakes.  He never spoils His own work.  The tragedy is that sometimes we arrogantly assume the role of the potter and try to shape our own lives, with disastrous results.” (130)


Adversity, prosperity, sorrow, joy, bereavement, tragedy, trials, temptations – all are factors that God uses to change us progressively into the likeness of Christ.  (131) 


“In His art, the Potter uses the fire as well as the wheel.” (134)


“The Holy Spirit is not to be conceived in terms of an emotional experience.  He is not a mysterious, mystical influence that pervades one’s being; not is He a power, like electricity, which we can use for our purposes.  He is a divine Person, equal with the Father and the Son in power and dignity; and He is equally to be loved, worshiped, and obeyed.” (146)  Bring your life under His control.  (147)


“It seems strange that although the twelve apostles had enjoyed three years of concentrated individual instruction under the peerless Teacher, their lives were characterized more by weakness and failure than by power and success.  Pentecost changed all that; they were filled with the Spirit.”  (147)


“We are encouraged to believe that there will be a complete world conquest for our glorious Lord and Savior.”  “We humans are so self-centered that we tend to think of that glorious event in terms of what it will mean to us rather than what it will mean to Him.”  “the consummation of the age will be attained when Christ is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords and is acknowledged as such by the whole creation.  It is toward this glorious event that the disciple’s gaze should be directed.”  (151-2)


“The fact that our Lord has not yet returned is a clear indication that the task committed to the church, to ‘make disciples of all nations.’ Has yet to be completed.  The uncertainty of the time of His return, rather than discouraging us, should spur us to more urgent endeavor.  For His own wise purposes, God has chosen to make Himself dependent on the cooperation of His people.”  “The delay, therefore, must be due to the disobedience of the church, which ahs been slack in its response to the Great Commission.”  (153)


“God does not tantalize His children by requiring of them something that is impossible to achieve.  John Wesley said in this connection, ‘I do not ask if the task is compassable—I ask only, Is it commanded?’”  (155)