From Bible times until today, God has put people in leadership roles in order to accomplish His purposes.
Romans 12:3–7 addresses our various roles in God’s family on earth, including leaders: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. … Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”
The characteristics of humility, function and purpose, servanthood and individual gifts and talents are addressed.
Godly leaders aren’t those who are arrogant and desire to exercise power. Rather they possess sober judgment and a measure of faith.
A godly leader is one who is driven by biblical mandate, using biblical methods and living by biblical character. Three truths you will see as evidence of a godly leader:
Godly leaders are people-centered.
Leadership is foremost about how we influence people in a meaningful way. A godly leader will consider how he or she is leading people toward faith and encouraging them to grow in faith and as a person. There is no higher calling in leadership than to genuinely care for people.
Jesus reminds us in Matthew 20:28: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” A godly leader sees his role as a way to serve others.
How to be people-centered:
- Spend time daily investing in relationships, at work, home and in the community.
- Pray regularly for people in your sphere of influence.
- Consider work projects and processes as means to meet new people.
- Ensure your personal and professional goals include people as a primary component.
Godly leaders are wisdom-focused.
Wisdom is knowledge and experience that can be shared for the benefit of others. We all need wisdom because it helps us make better decisions, manage relationships, handle money, face adversity, find direction and so much more.
A godly leader wants to share insights that will help people lead better lives by doing things God desires and avoiding things He does not.
Ephesians 5:15–17 reminds us, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time … .” A godly leader is wisely walking through his own life and leading those in his sphere of influence to follow.
How to be wisdom-focused:
- Share your experiences with others, so they may repeat your successes and avoid your failures.
- Look at challenges and adversity as opportunities to learn and grow, both in faith and wisdom.
- Think carefully about decisions.
- Develop a listening ear, ready to take in knowledge and experience from those in your sphere who know things you don’t and have been places you haven’t.
Godly leaders are Spirit-led.
A Christ-follower is filled with the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23).
Paul is reminding us these are not characteristics we can simply summon with enough willpower. Rather it will require the Spirit of God to see these elements as a regular facet of our lives.
Notice the fruit is plural — a faith-centered leader won’t exhibit just one of these traits, but all of them, in some way. These traits flow from a person who is putting others first and desiring their best, personally, professionally and spiritually.
How to be Spirit-led:
- Focus daily on your own character being a reflection of the character of Christ. What actions and attitudes can you improve on?
- Pray regularly for the Spirit of God to influence your interactions with others. Ask God to reveal ways others can see Christ in you.
- Read Galatians 5:22–23. Pray about characteristics you can grow more fully in your own life.
By Gene Mason
Leadership Ministries Inc.
I am a real live miracle — at least twice in my life. I am 81. When doctors didn’t think I would make it, God had a plan. The first time I had a brain aneurysm was in 1981. In 2009, I was having a heart cath and had a heart attack.
The doctors that were performing the procedure called my lung doctor for his permission to do open heart surgery. (I have COPD.) He said no, she will not make it — that’s what I was told by the heart doctor.
“This is a fundamental truth about endings: You have to be able to face losing some things you might want, in order to be free to do the right thing. If you can’t, you’re stuck.” — Henry Cloud
Mark 12:30: “You must love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” In other words, our response to God involves every facet of our being — all that we are, feel, think, will, and do [the totality of our existence] should be expressions of love for God and revealed in loving-service to others.
Morris Murray Jr.
If I’m not prioritizing my time spent in prayer, diving into the text and considering the interpretations, implications and applications of that week’s passage, then I won’t be prepared to support, encourage and learn alongside other believers.
So here’s my encouragement to you: Prioritize your study of God’s Word. You may not be working through a particular Bible study curriculum, but you can still be intentional to devote a part of your day to being in communion with God.
“Prioritize your life”
“I enjoy the beauty of human relationships and what’s possible when we meet … what’s possible in that moment,” said Suzanne Simmons, staff chaplain at UAB Hospital, on interacting with patients and their families. “We can learn about each other and how we can experience God in the moments we are relating with one another. I find it to be just a really beautiful experience. I get to do that every time I walk into a patient’s room.”
“This one is special,” said Andy Erwin, producer of “Jesus Revolution,” based on evangelist Greg Laurie’s book about how revival among hippies in 1970s California started a spiritual awakening, landing on the cover of Time magazine.
“Disciple-making is not a program — it’s a lifestyle,” said Bill Wilks, founder of D-Life and pastor of NorthPark Baptist Church in Trussville. “We don’t need any more new programs. Amen? We’ve got more programs than we could ever possibly know how to use.”
“God is the God of second chances,” said comedian Mickey Bell. “When He talks about redemption, He means it. I am the picture boy of that. … I’m one of the very few people who will stand on stage and admit their shortcomings every night. [I’m] not afraid to do so.”
While we do not work for our salvation (Eph. 2:8-9); we are to work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12b).
Franklin L. Kirksey
When church leadership is unqualified
Churches are meant to be places of worship, community, discipleship and spiritual growth for believers. In addition, churches should shine the light of the gospel beyond the walls. However, conflicts and turnovers in pastoral positions have become increasingly common, and unregenerate or unqualified church members in leadership positions are sometimes a cause.
The church must be careful in selecting all leaders — not just pastors, ministers and church staff.
The Bible is clear that leaders are not to be spiritual novices and the teachers will be held to a high standard.
Still, unregenerate church members — those who have not truly trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior — sometimes hold leadership positions in churches.
These individuals, sometimes chosen for their influence or career successes or because the position is vacant and they are willing, may impose values and beliefs which clash with the spiritual direction and scriptural teachings of the church.
Two simple steps
My advice for the church is twofold:
- Use the Bible as the standard for selecting any leader.
- Don’t get into a rush.
Spiritually immature or unqualified leaders … can create a toxic environment that is detrimental to the health and growth of the church.
From my experience, I have seen these issues lead to emotional and even physical distress in the lives of pastors and church members.
Much turnover of pastoral positions also can be attributed to unqualified church members in leadership positions.
By Chris Crain
Birmingham Metro Baptist Association
From the Twitterverse
Presently, there are three types of churches in America:
- Compromising churches who cave to the culture about key beliefs.
- Cocooning churches who want to insulate themselves from the culture & major on their own comfort.
- Churches who are leveraging their people and resources for gospel witness & fulfilling the Great Commission without spiritual compromise.
Only the #3 churches have a future.
Leadership isn’t really that hard, but it’s not for everyone.
Before the local church is to be the house of Bible teaching, fellowship, evangelism and missions or anything else, it is to be known as the “house of prayer.”
re: pastoral leadership
It’s OK to care about the ABCs (attendance, buildings, cash). Your people want you to care they’re there, they have a place to worship & that you steward their generosity well. But you better care about the DEF’s too (discipleship, evangelism, fellowship).
There is a fresh wind of the Spirit happening in my church. I truly believe a movement of God is taking place in many places.
“Do you find it difficult to forgive one who has wronged you? Then you will find it difficult to get to heaven.” —Charles Spurgeon
I don’t think we really understand the level of deception that occurs in people who abuse. We think that if they cry and say they are sorry, that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t touch the practice of deception that runs their lives and … organizations.
A church has … forsaken its mission when Roberts Rules of Order are referred to more than Scriptures and business meetings are more important than baptisms.
Evangelism should include 1) Intercession — praying for God to save a lost person; 2) Information — sharing the good news that Jesus died and rose again to forgive and transform them; 3) Invitation — we must invite individuals to believe the good news.
The grace that saved you will sustain you.
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