DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Importance of True Leaders

Written by: on December 7, 2017

Per 2016, the top 5 highest paid CEOs in America were (via salary and benefits)[1]:

Ginni Rometty, IBM              $96,764,750

Elon Musk, Tesla                    $99,744,920

Sundar Pichai, Google            $106,502,419

Tim Cook, Apple                    $150,036,907

Marc Lore, Walmart                $236,896,191

In addition to these statistics, the top 3 highest paid Ministers in America were[2]:

Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Copeland Ministries

“According to an article by the Associated Press that ran in 2008, “His ministry’s 1,500-acre campus, behind an iron gate a half-hour drive from Fort Worth…includes a church, a private airstrip, a hangar for the ministry’s $17.5 million jet and other aircraft, and a $6 million church owned lakefront mansion.” The article later added that while Copeland has not released up-to-date salary statements, “the church disclosed in a property-tax exemption application that his wages were $364,577 in 1995; Copeland’s wife, Gloria, earned $292,593.”

Creflo A. Dollar, World Changers Church International

“While Dollar — his real name — has not released his salary information, the New York Times reported that he drives a Rolls-Royce, is transported in a private jet, owns a million-dollar Atlanta home and a $2.5 million Manhattan apartment.”

Bishop Eddie Long, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

“According to a 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation, “during the period between 1997 to 2000, Long received more than $3.07 million worth of compensation and benefits from his non-profit charity, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Inc.” The investigation found that his compensation included a “$1.4 million six-bedroom, nine-bath home on 20 acres in Lithonia; use of a $350,000 luxury Bentley automobile” and “more than $1 million in salary, including $494,000 in 2000.”

When viewing numbers like this, it is not that unreasonable to find that the research into the value of a CEO and the importance that leadership plays in corporate affairs is a widely opinionated field. This research is the very nature of the study provided by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana in their “Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice.” Though fundamentally at first sight this book seems to maintain a very business oriented field of view, it was clear that whoever is reading it, with a little effort, can project from its pages some very helpful and profound views toward leadership and its selection. Though I could ponder for months on the legalism between the Walmart CEO receiving millions of dollars and yet the McDonald’s manager may only clear $50,000, and ask if it really is an equal world out there. However, instead, as I read through pages on leadership, I found myself transported to my preacher-view of things, and tried to compare their ideas with those found in Scripture.

The reading posited one of their perspectives for research by writing, “The core difference in approach is that rather than frame the question of CEO impact in black-and-white terms (“Does leadership matter?”) we ask instead “When does leadership matter?”[3] The apostle Paul taught Timothy to “2  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”[4] The concept being that leadership always matters; at least it should. Our last reading addressed the concept of everyone being a theologian; perhaps there are some that believe that everyone has the potential to lead in their own manner and at their own time as well, but regardless, there is always a need for leadership.

“Studies of leadership describe how, by adapting their organizations’ missions, strategies, structures, and cultures to their companies’ environments, CEOs can have a substantial impact on company performance.”[5] As a minister in the pulpit, you not only have the ear of the entire congregation, but you have the trust from God to deliver His message. What good is a minister that disregards the needs of the congregation and disregards the desires of the One that put them into that position in the first place? Does that role of authority matter if they do not abide by the fundamentals or principles of their church? I recently went into a Barnes and Noble bookstore, and was looking for a cover for my Kindle. I had not given it much thought, but Barnes and Noble view Amazon as the opposition; for this reason, there is not a single Kindle product offered at Barnes and Noble. With this illustration in place, what would happen to the store manager if they decided to disregard the instruction, and decided more money was available if they marketed Amazon products? The reality, they have betrayed their own company through the action. The same is true in Christianity; true leadership reflects the guidelines of God, and for any minister, elder, or representative to do something contrary to that, the very influence they have with the congregation, can become destructive. The reading pointed out that, “CEOs make material strategic choices that can influence firm performance.”[6] The very power they have been presented with can either build up a church or destroy it. We see so many massive churches on the rise these days, but the question is; is their success built upon biblical authority or dollar signs? Does financial growth in the church have the same positive connotation that it holds in the business world? Does the TV evangelist that reaches millions with his broadcast prove he is valuable because of the money he brings in, or because of the message he sends out?

There has been much debate on whether a church is a business or not, in fact, we have even held one such discussion in this course already. However, I believe that though the principle of leadership and its value is consistent, I do not believe that the same is true of the standards between the church and other businesses. Christ warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn-bushes or figs from thistles?”[7] Christ viewed product different than the world; it was not a numerical game, but rather an importance of maintaining the integrity of the message. As ministers, we are obligated to remember what we were called to be; we do have a very important calling, and therefore, our roles are important.
“11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”[8]



Martin, E. (2017, May 11). CNBC Make It. Retrieved December 7, 2017, from

Nohria, N. &. (2010). Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice (Kindle ed.). Harvard: Harvard Business Review Press.

Staff, E. (2017). Meet the Richest Minister in America. Retrieved November 7, 2017, from Elev8:


[1] Martin, E. (2017, May 11). CNBC Make It. Retrieved December 7, 2017, from

[2] Staff, E. (2017). Meet the Richest Minister in America. Retrieved November 7, 2017, from   Elev8:

[3] Nohria, N. &. (2010). Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice (Kindle ed.). Harvard: Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle locations 382-383.

[4] 2 Timothy 4:2-5.

[5] Nohria, N. &. (2010). Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice (Kindle ed.). Harvard: Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle locations 382-383.

[6] Ibid, Kindle Locations 396-397.

[7] Matthew 7:15-16. NKJV.

[8] Ephesians 4:11-16. NKJV.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

5 responses to “The Importance of True Leaders”

  1. mm M Webb says:


    If you can get Copeland’s permission, I can fly the plane and carry the Elite 8 to a destination of your choice! That would be a good way to finish our first LGP-8 semester.
    Everything rises and falls on leadership (Maxwell, 2007). I like the way you tied Scripture into your review, because in the end, that is all that really matters. The money, the cars, the planes, and the “stuff” is God’s anyway. I am happy to pay my bills, share a used car with my wife, drive a used motorcycle when the roads are good, and support our church and ministry opportunities.

    There is no magic in being a CEO or a top leader of an organization, I’ve done that several times. However, there is divine power in being a Christian leader and I am glad to see that you and our cohort share in a special calling to be ministry leaders in God’s Kingdom.

    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  2. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I am still trying to fathom the immensity of those CEO salaries. I really can’t comprehend them. Especially when I know people doing amazing work her locally who are making pennies compared to the CEO’s.

    Thanks for the enlightenment. Wow, I am still in shock…

  3. Greg says:

    If I were you I would share those statistics with your leadership board…maybe a raise is in order. I have such a hard time not being cynical when I read about the amount of “waste” in worldly items that result from those that prop themselves up in the name of the Lord. As much as I hate to think of a church leader and a CEO in the same camp, we see the church so often adopting business-like practices to sell the product they need to sell. This is done also in trying to re-market God to fit the ideas that are comfortable. Sorry that was a little bit of a soap-box you got me a little fired up about. 🙂 Appreciate you and hope you have a great Christmas.

  4. Dave Watermulder says:

    Hey Shawn,
    Thanks for this post. You definitely grabbed my attention with the way you started out, listing those CEO salaries, and the top-paid pastors as well. Eye-opening! I think you have a good knack for bringing out a real world “situation” and then reflecting on it academically and spiritually. Thanks for this one!

  5. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Name it and claim it!

    Dr. Hart good job my friend. 🙂

    I’ve thought it peculiar that pastors often look more like CEO’s than holy men. Is that wrong? Does our culture need CEO pastors to be effective in reaching an ambitious and capitalism obsesses culture?

    Im not sure

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