Church leadership requires one to dedicate him or herself to the work of God. To minister in a leadership capacity with success, one must understand what they are being called upon to do. Two web sites, www.bible.org and www.biblebb.com try to help the leader understand what they are being called upon to do.
The first web site, www.bible.org writes about leadership development. Kenneth Boa, Th.M.; Ph.D., is the writer of the article, Leadership Development. In his article, he uses Jesus as the example to use as a guide for being a successful leader. Boa explains that Jesus picked his disciples and then for the next three and a half years, he taught them and empowered them for ministry (1). He explains that God did not need man as a part of the plan, but it was God’s purpose to use men from the start.
“First, they were well-trained” (2). When Jesus sent out the seventy-two they were given instructions on what to do and how to handle things if there were not received well. Jesus did not leave anything out of their training. Their training was what had the seventy-two rejoicing when they returned with good news of their success. The devil’s powers were stopped because of God’s power working through them. This is important to know and understand that it is through God’s power that all work is done. When one prepares God’s way, the work can be done.
“Second, they had a clear vision: They were impelled by Jesus’ urgent declaration that ‘The harvest is plentiful’” (2). A great leader must take the responsibility to define a clear picture of the mission. “Leadership is not merely a cognitive grasping of concepts…Leadership, like most things, is more caught than taught” (2).
An important fact mentioned is that Jesus took time to prepare for his mission. “Our Lord developed as a servant leader through personal discipline, through ‘reverent submission’…Jesus never invites us to do something he has not done for us first…He doesn’t ask us to love unlovely people without having first loved us in our unlovely state. He does not ask us to serve others without having first served us” (3).
“God has called us into being and is preparing us for a purpose” (3). God is in fact calling us to a purpose but the process is not guaranteed to be an easy one. “The hardships and struggles we endure during the transformation process will eventually provide us the strength we will need to accomplish the tasks our transformed nature will require” (4).
The last point Boa mentions is mentoring is mandatory. “Leadership development should be an ongoing process in our own lives as well as in the lives of those we seek to prepare. We should have multiple mentoring relationships” (5). These relationships consist of the one being mentored, to also reach out and teacher someone else. In these mentoring relationships, the one being mentored will be able to learn from one-on-one contact and experience. This is what Jesus did for his disciples. He took them with him and showed them how to be great leaders.
Those in leadership must develop spiritual disciplines that allow their life to be seen as an example of holy living, and this is mandatory for exampling to those they are training. J. Hampton Keathley, III in his article, Marks of Maturity: Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader states, “Being a godly example is not an option, it is commanded in Scripture. We need Christian maturity that provides people with real honest-to-God examples of authentic Christ-like living. Effective ministry to others is often equated with such things as dynamic personalities, with talent, giftedness, training, enthusiasm, and with Charisma…Much more is needed. In the Bible, the qualities that lead to effective ministry are found in the elements of spiritual character, in the character of Christ reproduced in us by the ministry of the Spirit” (1-2).
The goal of spiritual disciplines is to be more like Christ. In doing so, the minister (leader) then becomes an example for others to emulate. These disciplines help the minister in personal development, which help their ministry as well as their home life. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). This scripture gives the minister/leader a clear understanding of their purpose. One is to follow Christ in all their ways, and then the minister becomes an example for others to see Christ. This is the true purpose for developing one’s self for the mission.
What is discipline? The American Heritage College Dictionary defines it as, “the training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior. It is controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control” (402). The web site, Spirithome.com states, “Spiritual disciplines help to keep our relationship with God in good working order, and even help develop intimacy…Disciplines and practices are tools that are a part of cooperating with the Spirit on the task of remaking us into what God wants us to be” (2). Spiritual disciplines are necessary to sustain a life in ministry.
Having a healthy prayer life is important for all believers, however it is vital for the minister/leader to dedicate time to prayer. The minister’s prayer life needs to cover prayers for themselves as well as for his or her ministry. James E. Rosscup, one of the writers included in the book, Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically states, “We show we are fools, setting ourselves up for mediocrity, emptiness, and disaster unless we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to prayer” (143). If one is to be successful, the time must be taken to hear from God regarding one’s life and ministry. It is necessary to prepare one’s self by praying for God’s wisdom, guidance, and strength.
God is the one that will strengthen the minister when faced with difficult situations or circumstances. Piper states it this way, “But finally, we must ask how a person comes to be willing to spend time with and be open to the Word of God? The answer seems to be that we must acknowledge our helplessness…This means that the beginning of spiritual leadership must be in the acknowledgement that we are sick who need a physician…And as we read the wonderful promises that are there for those of us who trust the doctor, our faith will grow strong and our hope will become solid” (2).
This leads to another important duty one should do in conjunction with their prayer time, and that is the study of the Bible. It is important to seek God’s answers in the pages of the Bible. One can receive direction for living as well as for how one should pray from the pages of the Bible. John Piper, the author of The Marks of a Spiritual Leader writes, “The hardest part of the missionary career, Mr. Taylor found, is to maintain regular, prayerful Bible study. ‘Satan will always find you something to do,’ he would say, ‘when you ought to be occupied about that, if it is only arranging a window blind’” (3).
How we lead as a church results in what we really look like to the world at large. What a church looks like to a visitor speaks more than we think it does. What the building looks like, tells those that come, how important it is to the congregation. If it has chipping paint, bad bathrooms or poor sound systems, visitors will not come away with a good impression of who we are. Yet, this is not a new idea to keep God’s house in good working order. “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink; but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:2-6).
The author points out that for any changes to happen, they must come from leadership first. It puts a big responsibility on leadership, but it will not take root unless leadership is one hundred percent for the process (come back next week for the next installment).