google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Church Leadership 09 -
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Church Leadership

Session 9:

“How do I know I am called to leadership?”

Or:

“Why would I want to be a leader?”

Colin Buckland in his book Freedom to Lead says: “Calling, much like guidance, seems to be an elusive business. Most of us would wish that the writing was on the wall, but it isn't. We rely on a non-exact science, such as interpreting a Scripture passage, receiving the encouragement of others, hearing the inner voice and, for some, receiving a prophetic word.”

If you are already in a leadership role in church, how was it for you?

I know in my case I “fell into it” (as my wife describes it). My accounting skills were the driver for the other leaders of the church we were in at the time to ask me to become an Elder. I don’t think, at that time, I felt “called” – I felt more obliged to help them out! It seems to me, as I have talked to other leaders over the years, there is no simple “one size fits all” answer to this question.

That doesn’t mean to say that God does not use our faltering and unsure steps to develop the gifts He has birthed within us and to grow into the leader He wants us to be. Note I said “the gifts He has birthed within us” and “the leader He wants us to be”. We saw in an earlier session that trying to do this role without God’s gifting and the Holy Spirit’s enabling is a recipe for stress and heartache.

So – what are some of the things we should be keeping a look-out for as we contemplate if we are called to ministry?

There is no substitute for meditative reading of the Scriptures – this is still the primary way that God speaks to us today. Combine that with fervent prayer and a deliberate openness to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us and we will know in our spirit what is on God’s heart for us. And don’t think this is a “quick fix” – many wrestle with God for years before they are clearer about the way forward.

The guidance of trusted and more mature Christians is invaluable. Certainly I have benefitted from that over the years – but, at the end of the day, you must be the one making the decision, not them.

We must not discount the value of listening to good preaching – often God uses someone else’s inspired thoughts to stir something in our spirit. And the Lord can speak to us when we are in church and enjoying corporate worship and the fellowship of other Christians. As with Timothy, we can be given a prophetic word which, after careful consideration, can confirm what the Holy Spirit is already putting on our hearts.

Are you married? Now, I know there is no such office in the church as “Pastor’s spouse” or “Mrs. Elder” – but if one part of a married couple is called to serve in a leadership role and the other is not fully supportive, then this is another recipe for stress and heartache.

Our circumstances can influence us in knowing what God is calling us to. One thing that helped me to realise my gifting as a leader was the way I “took charge” of meetings or events when everybody else seemed reluctant to do so (not just in church but in the “day job” as well). Hard and difficult times can also shape us and make us more like Jesus and so more open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

Maybe I haven’t answered the question very well – but I hope that this part has been helpful and will, if nothing else, drive you delve into the Scriptures and seek God’s face for your future.


And now the second question: “Why would I want to be a leader?”

Paul, writing in his first letter to Timothy (3:1), says: “This is a trustworthy saying: ‘If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honourable position.’" (NLT).

Peter, in his first letter (5: 1 – 4), says: “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed. Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it 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 will never fade away.”

So – its “an honourable position” and we “will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away”. Is that all there is to it? The NIV uses the term “noble task” for “honourable position” as in the NLT – and “task” is a good word for it. Believe me – it is hard work!

The hours are long and unpredictable, the pay is often non-existent or poor (that’s a subject in itself and we don’t have time for it this series), the expectations are high, the stress can reach high levels, the people grumble and complain. You know what it’s like!

Those God calls to leadership roles have the assurance that He is with them, upholding them and inspiring them as they are obedient to the calling they have received and are sensitive to the Holy Spirit. And there is no better place to be, than doing what God has called you to do in the place where He has called you.

Let me close this podcast with a quote from Hebrews 13:5-7

“God has said: ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’
So we say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

A prayer: “Father, thank You that you go speaking to us through Your Word and by Your Spirit. Help me to respond to the promptings of Your Spirit and be an obedient bond slave. And thank You for Your ongoing Presence. In Jesus Name. Amen”.

Next time we will look at the question: “What are the marks of a good leader?” Or: “Is (s)he a leader worth following?”

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