google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Church Leadership 10 -

Church Leadership

Session 10:

“What are the marks of a good leader?”
“Is (s)he a leader worth following?”

We look today at the marks of a good leader. Put another way, what leaders are worth following?

In trying to answer this question, there is the danger of describing “Superman” or “Wonderwoman” – so I will hopefully keep to a few practical points that will help leaders to grow and those being led to follow wholeheartedly. And, as we have said in previous sessions, some leaders are gifted in certain ways and some in others – so, just because a leader is an exceptional teacher and preacher, (s)he may not excel in pastoral ministry or children’s work.

Added to that, we are all fallible human beings and get things wrong from time to time – I’ll look at this in more detail next time.

The first thing we need to emphasise is that those who lead in Church must be, to be effective, men and women of God. And what does that mean? Put simply, I would take it to describe those who have a clear and solid understanding of what the Bible teaches, who give time to prayer and who know the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit. Add to that God’s appropriate gifting and an ability to inspire others to be good disciples of Jesus.

There needs to a personal commitment to fulfilling the vision God has put in their hearts – and an ability to communicate that vision to the leadership team and the rest of the Church. Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that: “Where there is no vision, the people perish KJV).”

Eric Delve talks about the four principal roles of leadership: Exploring, Modelling, Adventuring and Empowering. The first two of these roles focus primarily upon the growth in integrity of the private person. The second two have to do with the public face of leadership, finding direction and team-building.

He says:
“We need leaders today who are exploring the wide territories of the promises of God; the dramatic landscape of His covenant purpose through the centuries. We need people who are prepared to live in the big picture and convey the glory of what they see to others.”

“Modelling gives a tangible example of what others ought to expect out of their lives. We all need inspiration but, at times, it's too far removed from 'nuts and bolts' living. Everyone needs someone to be like. That someone is you.”

“Adventure is always about risk. It has been said: ‘Faith is spelt RISK’, but I think faith is spelt OBEDIENCE. Here's a question that scares me. "What are you involved in that is so frightening it is doomed to failure unless God intervenes?’ You're on a great adventure. Stop living with burdens or fear and start to ride the waves with excitement and enthusiasm!!”

“The enabler – or the empowerer - has a far better and greater vision than his or her own life and ministry. They see far beyond these things to the eternal purposes of God. They live with a heavenly perspective and they live for a heavenly reward. The greatest test of leadership is the ability to pass on a legacy to the next generation and rejoice when they surpass you! That's especially tough when you've trained them, introduced them, but it is the great test of leadership.”

Years ago we had a visiting preacher at the church we attended at the time – an older man and influential in his denomination and one whose counsel I greatly appreciated. He talked about Jacob and his experience at the Jabbok (Genesis 32: 22 - 32) and reminded us that, unless we have wrestled with God and prevailed, we will not be all that we could be for Him. He likened the wrestling with struggling with life, not having it easy, as well as the “wrestling in prayer” that Paul talks about (Colossians 4:12). His closing comment was “never trust a leader without a limp”. In other words, unless we have been “through the mill” a few times, we cannot understand what others are facing and therefore cannot lead them well.

Apart from the things we think of as “spiritual”, there are some things, of a more practical nature, that make for a good leader:
  • Are they good “ambassadors” for Christ and the church they lead? We saw how that was important when we looked at Timothy in session 7.
  • How do they spend their time? Do they manage their time well? A recent survey found that the average church leader has 564 meetings a year. That is 846 hours a year, the equivalent of 105 working days. Everything from the informal coffee with someone to chat about their next vocational step, through to the more formal gathering of volunteer youth leaders to dream up the programme for next term. A good idea is to keep a fairly detailed diary so that you can see where time is “leaking” and do something about it. And remember you are not a “one man band” – delegate wherever you can.
  • Good leaders will look after themselves physically, maintain a healthy lifestyle and make sure they take proper periods of rest and leave. Beware leaders who are always at everything and nothing can happen without them – a recipe for burn out. But there is the other side of the coin – church members should not expect instant availability 24/7 (some do – I’ve been on the receiving end!).
  • Financial integrity is important too, as is being consistent and persevering.

This has not been a totally inclusive list of the perfect leader – but I hope it has been helpful and a prompt to review things in your own life.

Next time we’ll look at what happens when it all goes wrong.

A prayer: “Father, please help me to be an effective leader of those you have asked me to care for. May I be filled with passion for the vision you have placed in my heart. By the power of Your Spirit and in Jesus Name. Amen.”

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