In today’s Christian culture, leadership has become a highly studied and thoroughly debated topic. More than ever, it seems, church leaders are turning to worldly ideologies and philosophies to determine strategies and define success. God’s Word, however, is abundantly clear that God has established a leadership perspective and directive for those called to lead His people.
God’s View of Leadership
God is not interested in dynamic CEOs, pragmatic practices that manipulate results and measures of success based solely on the bottom line metrics of finances or numbers. God’s view of success for those leading His church operates on a whole new paradigm. His priorities for church leaders revolve around character over charisma and the nurturing of His people over numerical growth.
Paul says this plainly in his address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus in Acts 20:28. In this text, Paul charges those entrusted with overseeing God’s people “to pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” More than striving to accumulate greater celebrity status or acquiring a broader twitter follower-ship, a Christian leader’s first prerogative is to invest themselves in growing in personal character that reflect the virtues of Christ.
Leadership That Reflects Christ
In the lists of spiritual qualifications for elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-5), we learn that one is qualified for leadership not by an impressive resume, but rather by a repertoire of godly characteristics. This includes such qualities as being above reproach, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, gentle, not quarrelsome and not a lover of money, to name a few (the only physical gift or talent required of a pastor/elder is teaching). The heart and character of the leader is what matters most to God!
“According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character. It’s not about style, status, personal charisma, clout, or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one.” – John MacArthur
The truth of the matter is this: the inner focus of the leader will determine both their own personal direction as well as that of the organization in which they are called to lead. It is this intentional focus on Jesus through a deep spiritual life that pleases God and relationally influences others, leaving an impact for His kingdom.
Leadership’s Shepherding Focus
Secondly, God has determined that His leaders’ focus must be on caring for the well being of those entrusted to their leadership rather than becoming pre-occupied with expanding church membership and building state-of-the-art facilities. In a results driven world where relationships are throw-aways and people are used as a means to an end, God has a vastly different desire for those He has called to be under-shepherds of His church. One of the main tasks of the pastor/elder is to be diligent in overseeing the souls of the saints – teaching, protecting and leading in all truth and righteousness, knowing that the enemy is constantly striving to take down God’s children (Acts 20:29-30; 1 Peter 5:8). As the day of the Lord’s return rapidly approaches (Romans 13:11), it is now more crucial than ever before to remain determined to make ministry about pointing souls towards the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be intentional in prioritizing discipleship through the teaching of His Word.
Please don’t hear me wrong in this … vision casting, intentional communication, creating culture, rallying servants, mobilizing evangelism efforts and moving a church forward for the cause of Christ are important leadership elements that cannot be overlooked. But, please hear what I am saying. There is also an urgent call on God’s leaders to ensure that their own lives and the lives of God’s people are reflecting His glory and are ready for His return. There is no time to waste chasing after worldly goals and empty pursuits that have nothing to do with the building of God’s kingdom and everything to do with building man’s kingdom. Life is short. Souls are at stake. Eternity is forever. This is what biblical leadership and true success is all about. May we know the full reality of God’s favour and fruitfulness as we aim to lead the church according to His priorities!