Now more than ever, it’s important for the Church to be fostering strong leadership. We live in a society beset by countless social and political battles, and believers need figures of courage and integrity to help us navigate culture’s minefield. Unfortunately, the Bible warns that not every prophet is to be trusted (Matthew 7:15). Many are simply gaming the system to achieve wealth, power, and influence. To make matters worse, those with the potential for leadership often succumb to snares or pitfalls on the road to ministry.
So how do Christians distinguish a good leader from a bad one? And how do those with a desire to serve avoid the mistakes of their predecessors? Dayton Hartman, founding pastor of Redeemer Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has compiled a short list of the warning signs for poor leadership. He begins with,
Thinking You Have Arrived
“Part of leadership is living with and exuding a sense of self-confidence. However, confidence can quickly become self-aggrandizing arrogance. The moment you begin to think that you are a great leader, you've actually stepped towards becoming a bad leader. Leaders ought to be confident, but humble. If you believe the Scriptures, you must accept that you are broken and the truth is, you may never ‘arrive.’ The moment you think you've arrived is actually proof that you haven't. Pastor, you are a work in progress (Phil. 1:6).”
Sarah Coleman, another writer with an appreciation for leadership, believes too many Christians are imitating the personalities they see in today's media. These men and women are loud, arrogant, unapologetic, and dismissive of criticism. That, she notes, was not how Christ led,
We Don't Lead from Grace
“Modern perceptions of leadership are more like dictatorship - where the authority figure rules with an iron fist. But that is not the example of leadership we see in Jesus. Jesus led as a servant. He led by grace. Leading is not humiliating someone back into line. Leadership is not manipulating the situation to get your way. It is not a climb to the top, abusing everyone in your path.”
“Leadership is best when comes from the position of grace. Grace paves the way so followers don't get hurt. Grace releases others into their potential. Grace makes provision for mistakes. Grace is authentic. Grace leads as a servant.”
Finally, Christians must remember the words of scripture. Those who hope to lead the Church must do so by example, and the Bible gives specific instructions for anyone considering a place of authority in the body of Christ,
We Must Lead by Example
“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” – 1 Timothy 3:2-3
There have been many dynamic Christian leaders throughout history, and God willing, there will be countless more to come. Before we move forward though, we must take a moment to examine ourselves and reflect. God is calling for individuals of courage, wisdom, and humility to take up his message. Are we prepared to change for His glory?
What about you? What are your thoughts on Christian leadership? What qualities should every pastor demonstrate? Be sure to leave a comment in the space below!
*Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com