Fundamentally, most people in leadership fail to enjoy the fruit of what effective leadership can produce. The reason for this is pretty simple. Andy Crouch (Crouch, A. 2016, pn 112.) stated that when a leader is more concerned about himself, his comfort, security, and needs, both the people and the organisation suffers. Oh boy, how much time do you have, because I can give you a list of names that will keep you here until thy kingdom come!
Spiritual leadership does not begin with a title, position or privileges. It makes no difference where you are called to lead, in ministry or the marketplace. The greater the impact you want in your family, church or workplace, the greater your ability to influence others needs to be.
Leadership is a risky business! You can invest your life into a team of men and women only to be rewarded with betrayal and denial. But not developing any leaders is an even greater risk. While we have all experienced incompetent or unhelpful leaders, we have also experienced mature, generous, and compassionate leaders —the kind of leaders we want to emulate, Jesus Christ!
Thankfully, having a good understanding of what you are looking for in a leader can help you minimise risk to your Church. So, wherein the haystack can one start?
Where to Start
As you consider who is ready for leadership training, begin by reminding yourself of the goal (the Jethro and Ephesian 4, principles): you are not aiming to do all the ministry yourself; you are equipping the saints for ministry. Be prepared to entrust ministry to others —and to let go of it yourself. And as you get started, often pray that God will bring the right people to mind at the right time. God usually wakes me up between three and 5 am, showing me the faces of the people He wants me to pray for. Don’t ignore these moments or fail to act upon these divine instructions.
As you remember Andy Crouch’s definition of leadership at the beginning of this blog, ask yourself who is already leading in your Church? Then, look over your list of current volunteers. Who is already serving faithfully?
Those who are faithful with little will probably be faithful with more (Luke 16:10) –but don’t count on it! Also, look at people on the margins with the potential to serve. Maybe there is a new couple that previously led in the ministry. Or perhaps a teacher wants to start a special ministry for the youth. Sometimes the right people can also be found outside of your Church. So you have to be intentionally relying on the Holy Spit to show you who they are.
If you think these folks have the right heart to become leaders in your Church, you can give them a trial run by asking them to help with specific short-term projects. Test their heart. I could be wrong, but one or two the most will leadership material for every ten that you ask.
If they have proven they can follow through, you can start tapping them for leadership development and other ministry opportunities.
Qualities of a Leader
As you think about potential leaders, certain things should always be true of the people you tap for leadership. Look for people with these qualities:
The reformer Martin Luther stood before the intimidating court of religious authorities that had put him on trial and declared these words, “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me.” This is convictional leadership.
That is the kind of conviction that makes all the difference. Sadly, far too many of today’s leaders seem to have little idea what they believe, or they appear to be driven by no clear and discernible convictions. How many of today’s leaders are known for the convictions for which they are willing to die—or even to live?
You can divide all leaders into those who merely hold an office or position and those who hold great convictions. Life is too short to give much attention to leaders who stand for little or nothing, leaders who need to be followed up, looking for the next program, riding the latest leadership trend, trying on idea after idea, but driven by no deep convictions.
So, look for men and women who understand or are willing to learn that the starting point for Christian leadership is not the leader but the eternal truths that God has revealed to us. This is the heart of convictional leadership. When thinking of people who will have leadership responsibility at your Church, you want to ensure also they agree with the main points of your theology and ministry philosophy. They probably would not need to argue the finer points of your Church’s doctrine, and you can train anything they should know. But you will want to make sure they are walking closely with God, growing in their faith, and loving the people in your community.
Perhaps the most widely misused biblical passage in our culture today is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Even people who do not know the content of Scripture very well are apt to quote Jesus whenever they are criticised for their behaviour. Such persons are looking to excuse their actions as if He would have us refrain from making judgments altogether.
Still, in grooming, but with great potential, our second in charge vocal leader was confronted for not pitching on a Sunday and not informing his leaders. The guy took offence, left the Church with “immediate effect”.
It is so sad that so many people place talent above character. In today’s Church, you don’t; have to be ethical to be leadership material. While it may not be esteemed among man, character matters to God, and so it does in every thriving Church.
So look for people who are the same during the week as they are on Sundays, who earn your respect, and who deal fairly and generously with others without watering down truth.
We are not talking about being perfect. If you want to lead a miserable life, pursue perfectionism.
But it is a no-brainer: do not ask her to sing if she cannot keep a note, don’t ask him to be the greeter if he has no teeth, do not put your super artsy, left-brained thinker in charge of finances and spreadsheets. You want the right people in charge of the right things because that is where they will thrive. As Romans 12:6 teaches, God has given each person different gifts all for the same purpose: to make the body of Christ flourish. Matching each person’s gifts to essential ministry is not only vital; it is the leader’s job!
Look for people who go beyond words. They can plan it and do it in a way that instils confidence in others who will follow them.
No, we not talking about science. We are talking about leadership chemistry. You will, if not already be pressured by a very talented person, either because they have an exceptional management gift or a musical ability. Yet, if they do not have the other C’s I have mentioned, and you bent under pressure to give them some underserved title, you will pay a dear price!
I remember him, well say his name was Joe. For some strange reason, Joe craved my recognition and wanted access to high-level leadership. Well, to save you all the detail, Joe left, and he left ugly. Real ugly! But it only confirmed that my judgement was spot on! I have burnt my fingers many years back and learnt this valuable lesson, talent does not triumph character!
When considering someone for leadership, think about how that person will fit in with your existing leaders. Do they bring something new to the table? Do their gifts complement the gifts of others on the team? Are they enjoyable to work with? What is the motivation in their heart?
I am convinced that the devil sends more of his people to Church to destroy it than God’s people will obey Him and walk through the doors.
So be on your guard and test every spirit!