“A gifted leader is one who is capable of touching your heart.” –J.S. Potofsky
I would like to address the leadership of the church. I would like to address pastors and deacons. I would like to address those who have been entrusted, by the Lord and by the people, to lead the church in godly edification and God-honoring evangelism. Those who have been chosen to be the spiritual leaders of the flock. A.W. Tozer once said, “Until self-effacing men return again to spiritual leadership, we may expect a progressive deterioration in the quality of popular Christianity year after year till we reach the point where the grieved Holy Spirit withdraws–like the Shekinah from the temple.” Someone else said, “Leaders should be the chief repenters!”
For pastors, one problem of leadership in the church is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you! On the other hand, a friend on vacation a few years ago sent me a beautiful postcard. It is a scenery picture of a graceful team of huskies being driven through the snowy plains of Alaska. The caption reads, “If you are not the lead dog, the scenery never changes!”
It is very important that those who have been placed in positions of leadership, and those who have placed them there, fully understand their God-given roles. Our examples for leadership are not leaders in the world, but Christ in the Word! For example:
- His leadership focused on individuals – His personal conversation with Peter in John chapter 21 is a good example of that.
- His leadership focused on the Scriptures – “You have heard that it was said….but I say unto you.” Matthew 5:21-48.
- His leadership focused on purpose – He had clear cut goals for His earthly ministry. How might we lead if we only had three and one half years?
- His leadership majored on being a servant – He came to minister to, not to be ministered unto (Matthew 20:28). Richard Foster stated that leadership is found in becoming the servant of all.
The truly first spiritual servant leader to surface in the Old Testament was Moses. His name means “drawn forth” which is true of most leaders doing service for God. We did not seek our positions but were drawn forth by the will of the Father though the choice of the people. As you have heard many times, Moses lived for 120 years, a period divided into three sections: the first 40 years were spent as Pharaoh’s son learning how to be SOMEBODY. The second 40 years were spent in the desert learning how to become a NOBODY. The third 40 years he became the leader of God’s people and learned that GOD WAS EVERYBODY! For the purpose of challenging both pastors and deacons to be godly leaders, let’s briefly look at the “leadership qualities” of Moses as recorded in Hebrews 11:24-29:
- Faith – Heb. 11:24 – Faith in essence is believing in God’s promises (11:1), is always related to God’s people (11:2), and is believing in God’s power (11:3). How can you lead without faith? We must “step” out into the water as Moses did at the Red Sea.
- Integrity – Heb. 11:25 – There is no room for hypocrisy in leading the people of God. Will Rogers said, “I would rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it!” It’s true, if men speak ill of you, live so that no one will believe them.
- Vision – Heb. 11:26 – Vision is simply believing that God can do greater things in the future than He has done in the past AND being willing to be a part of it! If you are a perennial pessimist you should drop out now!
- Decisiveness – Heb. 11:27 – Decision-making is a big part of leadership BUT our decisions are always weighed in the light of God’s Word and God’s will, not our own personal agenda.
- Responsibility – Heb. 11:29 – Moses was committed to trusting God and being responsible in his obligation to lead God’s people to places they had never been before. Leadership does that. There is no place for irresponsibility in serving God. Never treat lightly the privilege of being appointed to His service.
As pastors and deacons, the spiritual leaders of God’s flock, you must always keep the bigger picture in mind. In God’s calendar of time for all ages, it is now YOUR time to be counted for Him, no matter how insignificant it might seem in the light of eternity.
Bruce Larson, in his book Wind & Fire, points out some interesting facts about sandhill cranes. These large birds, who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out in front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. Finally, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation. That’s not a bad model for the church. Certainly we need leaders who can handle turbulence and who are aware that leadership ought to be shared. But most of all, we need a church where we are all honking encouragement. Well, maybe not a honk, but at least a good “Amen!
–Maynard H. Belt