ThoughtShades FrameWork

Essays, Themes, Opinions

Constructs, Practical Ideas, Applications

Poetry, Impression Writing

Sermons, Devotions

Personal Revelations, Illustrations

Viewpoint: Politics, Contemporary Issues, Editorials


Choice Offerings by Others

Powered by Squarespace
« Your Affection Relationship: Jesus as the Lover of Your Soul | Main | Your Career Must Complement the Mission of the Church »

Your Leadership Relationship: Jesus as Lord

The topic of leadership dominates the corporate conference and seminar circuit.  Around the world, businesses, associations and groups of every kind know that their viability rises and falls on the quality of their leadership.  Styles and strategies of leaders, from ancient to modern times, from exotic cultures to the cyber-culture, from cruel despots to coalition managers, from militants like Genghis Kahn to pacifists like Mahatma Gandhi, have been analyzed ad nauseam. Speculation on the best style of leadership runs the gamut from autocratic to participative, from visionary to coaching, and from pacesetting to affiliative.  We hear voices from actual leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, and also from scholars who only study leadership like Kurt Lewin, Daniel Goleman and Jim Collins.  With all of this, we’re still not sure what it is.  We continue to develop an understanding of effective leadership. 

Definitions of leadership vary from simple to complex.  “Leadership is influence.”  (John Maxwell). “A leader is someone who has followers.”  (Peter Drucker).  It can’t get much simpler than that.  Balance that with this: “Leadership creates an inspiring vision of the future; motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision; manages delivery of the vision; coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.  Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things.”  (Bernard M. Bass).  The wide breadth of leadership as a topic precludes a thorough treatment here, so let’s narrow our focus to this lead sentence: How does your relationship with Jesus Christ shape your leadership profile? 

At the outset, understand that leadership is a function of your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Paul told the Corinthians, “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, imitate me.” 1 Corinthians 4:15-16. Later, he wrote, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (KJV).  These declarations reveal the secret of Paul’s leadership.  Although the Apostle’s unique giftings were integral to his leadership, he saw himself as a conduit through which the leadership of Christ flowed.  He fleshed this out to the Ephesians.  “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:6-8 (NKJV) Rather than humility, this seems to be deeper than a self-deprecating remark.  Paul operated out of the conviction that he had no right to be who he was.  Given the fact that he once persecuted the church, he owed any leadership he now had to the grace of God.

Leadership must put the Lordship of Christ on prominent display. Leaders who do not submit to Christ Jesus, not only as Savior, but also as Lord, disqualify themselves for leadership. 

Your Leadership Must Advance the Cause of Christ 

Church leaders must eschew the attitude of free-lance professionals, individualists or mercenaries who operate independently of outside control.  We signed on to be ambassadors for Christ—chosen, trained and sent, to fight the good fight of faith and win the lost.   Paul reminded the Corinthians that he was not a self-appointed Apostle.  Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? 1 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV). He was conscripted to fight for the kingdom, not to exploit the fight for selfish purposes, or not as an opportunist who looks to every situation for self-aggrandizement.    It would be absurd to start your own war and then personally answer the call to arms.  

Everything about your leadership must reflect your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Sermons must focus on Christ and Him crucified.  Bible studies must explain the Word of God more perfectly.  Church polity must be organized to facilitate the Gospel.  Church programs must move people closer to the goal of emulating Christ.  Expenditures of God’s money must underwrite the cost of the kingdom mission. 

These observations may seem basic, but some leaders regard the church as serving them, instead of them serving the church.  One critic sarcastically said that no Christian entrepreneur misses a chance to commercialize the Gospel.  If you have been called to a position of leadership in the church, you have no other purpose than to advance the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.  The Apostle Peter said, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”  1 Peter 5:1-4. 

A Leader Assumes Responsibility for His Followers 

No position requires more trust from people than that of a minister of the gospel.  Aside from some broad parameters intrinsic to the job, you have a free hand to set your own schedule, you design and implement the spiritual program for the church, and, in most cases, you hire and fire the people who work with you.  The critical factor, however, is that you wield an almost unchecked influence over your congregation.  From your pulpit, you can lead people into a radically different set of beliefs than they originally held.  As sheep, they can be led, manipulated, persuaded, indoctrinated, duped, trained and used.  Most of the time, congregants desire to please their pastor; where he leads them, they are likely to follow.  I remind church leaders that they will be held accountable for the welfare of their charges.  Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17. As a leader, you can uphold or tear down doctrines, you can praise or criticize organizations, you can rule with an iron fist or you can allow a lax and permissive climate to prevail in the church.  These are not unfounded speculations.  I have personally witnessed heartbreaking disasters occur under rebel leaders.  

This kind of power can go to a person’s head.  Whole congregations have been led astray by leaders who forgot their real responsibility to those who followed them.  The souls entrusted to your keeping are not plastic soldiers to be toyed with; they are not nobodies who are expendable in the leader’s world; they are not laboratory animals to be used for experimentation; they are not adoring fans of a charismatic pastor; they are not resources to service and fund a narcissistic leader’s whims and wishes. The Apostle Paul outlines the character of a bishop for Timothy, but the profile also fits all church leaders.  This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

Good Leaders Value People 

The sign emblazoned on the side of the eighteen-wheel tractor trailer rig said, “Our company’s greatest asset sits sixty-four feet in front of this spot.”  It was a creative way to say that the company valued its employees.  Leaders who place a high value on their people incentivize them to do their best, and the church reaps the benefits.  

As a leader, you should never use sarcasm to motivate people.  You should never belittle, shame, insult or humiliate those you are called to lead.  Besides being abusive, these tactics fail to inspire in the short term, and they become counter-productive in the future.  Even when you are frustrated, or you have been mistreated as was the Apostle Paul in Philippi, your response must always be measured and kind.  But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8. 

A good leader:  1) Equips people for ministry.  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12; 2) Creates opportunities for people to do ministry. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21; 3) Encourages people to be their best.  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15; and 4) Continues to affirm people in their calling.  When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:5-7.  

Good Leaders Monitor Their Own Spirit 

Leader cannot effectively preach what they do not practice.  Your followers must be able to see in you love, sacrifice, endurance, discipline, genuine care and all the other attributes that define leadership.  Without these traits, you will be perceived as fraudulent, not true to your own convictions.  Eventually, the message you broadcast by your speech will live or die by the character you model before your people.  Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>