The Path to Christian Leadership…through the eyes of many
I am truly hopeful that this first assignment of our second year on the road to our Doctorate in Global Evangelism is somehow going to be indicative of the path before us; after all, if we as scholars of Evangelism and Theology cannot learn how to be leaders of the Gospel, then what is the point? However, I have always believed that there were far too many people attempting to lead today than truly should be; it seems there are too many perversions of intent, direction, and motives, and as a result, the message of Christ is being corrupted. So here for our first assignment, we are introduced to a brand-new Theological Journal, which seems focused on the pure motivation of bringing light to the true nature of “Leadership.” Dr. Michael R. Mitchell wrote, “Leadership of any kind or at any level demands the utilization and application of skills that induce and influence followers.” Though I agree with this quote, I believe there is a higher level of scrutiny that falls upon those who lead in the name of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for this higher scrutiny has to have some guidelines of what they should follow after.
In our reading, we were given perspectives from various authors, from various religious backgrounds and cultures, who described their interpretation of leadership and discipleship. Through these readings, I believe there was a pattern that formed along the way that pointed out 4 primary characteristics of a true Christian leader (though I am sure an argument could be made for far more than just 4). Mitchell also wrote, “The first concern consists of the observation that leadership is normally defined, described, theorized, and preached from a unique and limited individual perspective.” So for the benefit of this assignment, rather than highlighting the independent perspectives, I would rather shine light on the parallels found between the different perspectives…perhaps that is really where we will find the truth.
The first quality of a true leader of the Gospel seems to be noted through the individual calling that one may have felt was given to them through God through the Holy Spirit. According to Wantaate, “Numerous studies on calling have revealed that motivation and job satisfaction tends to be higher in individuals with a sense of calling than those who only view their work as merely another job.” My own congregation is struggling with this very fact with our youth ministry right now; we have a man who is serving because he was asked, but after many years, he does not feel as though God actually wanted him to be a Youth Minister. As a result of his lack of calling, his commitment to the role he serves is always lacking. The church is full of a lot of people who seem to fill the role yet lack the desire. True leaders feel the fire inside them, as well as have the desire to spread that fire to others.
The second quality of a true leader of the Gospel is a quality that Singfiel demonstrated through the ministry of the apostle Paul; it is the quality of “willing”. Though this quality was entirely highlighted by the author, he still demonstrated the obstacles, problems and even feuds that Paul endured, and yet, he still always showed a willingness to persist. I have always been moved, and often even motivated by the passage in Isaiah 6:8, which reads, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’” How many sermons are preached from the pulpit trying to urge the congregation to serve? How often is the problem the church is really facing the fact that the preacher or eldership are not willing, and yet they expect their congregation to be willing? Leaders need to be willing even when no one else is.
The third quality of a true leader of the Gospel is the quality of multi-tasking. “Team leadership often has as much to do with external spanning with the environment as with internal coordination between the members.” When we view the ministry of Christ, we see that He was multi-tasking the entire time. To the disciples/apostles, He was teacher and guide; to the old church leaders, He was the voice of accountability; to the lost He was the light; to the Father, He was the Sacrifice; and to Himself, He was always looking to the two primary goal He sought to achieve…His death on the Cross and recruiting 11 men to take His place. How many of us fill out a resume with only one job description or skill set? More likely, we place things like preaching, teaching, song-leading, counseling, perform funerals and weddings, hospital visitation, and youth work. We realize that the true role of leadership normally requires more than one task at a time…though they are all seeking to lead souls to Christ.
The fourth quality of a true leader of the Gospel of Jesus Christ came from our discussion regarding Howell’s excerpt on “Weak enough to Lead.” In the text Ross wrote, “Are we weak enough to lead? If we become weak, we need to look no further than God’s strength and examples.” This fourth quality is humility. I offered my wife permission to “keep me humble” many years ago. I work for a church that seems to truly love me as their minister, and as a result, they are always super complimentary toward me and my preaching. The problem with such a situation as this, is often times, it is easy for a leader to forget that it is not about them, but rather, it is always about Jesus Christ. Ross gives a list of examples to follow, and interesting enough, my name was not on it; Jesus was there; the little children were there; even Hannah…Samuel’s mother was there; but my name was not there. So many books today try to remind leaders that in order to be a great leader, we must first learn to be a great follower; therefore, true leaders in Christ must never forget that they are just followers learning to imitate the master. Paul the apostle said, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”
Again, I am sure that this list could be much longer, but perhaps this is at least a good starting point. The reality is that we want to lead so that others will follow us down the path to Heaven; if we lead poorly, it is not just our eternity we are putting at risk, but rather, the eternity of all those who heeded our message.
Mitchell, Dr. Michael R. Leading, Teaching, and Making Disciples.Bloomington: Crossbooks, 2010.
Ross, Larry F. “Weak Enough to Lead: What the Bible Teaches Us About Powerful Leadership.” Theology of Leadership, 2018: 98-100.
Singfiel, Jeffrey J. “Paul the Team Leader: Strategic Planning, Intragroup Conflict, and Team Formation.” Theology of Leadership, 2018: 6-21.
Thomas, Debby. “Jesus’ Cross-Cultural Model of ‘Leader as Servant’ in Luke 22:24-30.” Theology of Leadership, 2018: 67-78.
Wantaate, Fred. “Spirituality in the Workplace: Source of a Calling, Levels of Living a Calling, Job Satisfaction, and Life Satisfaction among Indians and Ugandan Leaders.” Theology of Leadership, 2018: 49-66.
Mitchell, Dr. Michael R. Leading, Teaching, and Making Disciples.Bloomington: Crossbooks, 2010. P 7.
Wantaate, Fred. “Spirituality in the Workplace: Source of a Calling, Levels of Living a Calling, Job Satisfaction, and Life Satisfaction among Indians and Ugandan Leaders.” Theology of Leadership, 2018: p. 52.
Singfiel, Jeffrey J. “Paul the Team Leader: Strategic Planning, Intragroup Conflict, and Team Formation.” Theology of Leadership, 2018: p. 17.
Ross, Larry F. “Weak Enough to Lead: What the Bible Teaches Us About Powerful Leadership.” Theology of Leadership, 2018: p. 99.
1 Corinthians 11:1.