Jesus was more than a leader. As the Son of God, we see in Christ every trait perfected and the only One who can purchase redemption by His sinless life sacrificed in our place. Therefore we look to Him as our primary example of Christian leadership. As you read over the descriptions, take time to assess your own life and activity as a leader.
- Jesus invested in people. Jesus demonstrated incredible confidence in the potential of people to let Him use them for a higher purpose. He doesn’t just want us to “believe” in Him. He believes in us!
- Jesus saw long and far. In John 17:20 Jesus was living beyond the moment.With the pressures of NOW, it is possible for us to shorten our sight. But we must think the long term.
- Jesus sent people away from Him on mission. The environment around Jesus was like an airport terminal. Disciples were constantly coming and going to practice what they had learned and to serve others.
- Jesus grieved for communities. Jesus could look over a city (Luke 19:41-42) and be heartbroken over the rebellious nature of its’ inhabitants. Jesus wept over a community and calls us to love ours.
- Jesus led a balanced life. By “balance,” I mean that he invested perfectly into multiple environments. Jesus knew the value of time away from crowds to spend time with His Father.
- Jesus embraced other cultures. He was not afraid or offended by Samaritans. He went out of his way to talk with them and refused to give up when they rejected Him. The heard of Jesus is for people, all people.
- Jesus surrendered His will to the Father. True Christian leaders are in tune with the heart of God. We must resolve to do WHATEVER the Father requires. Jesus gave up His human will for God’s higher purpose. So must we.
- Jesus surrounded Himself with lost people. By offering grace and truth, Jesus was attractive to lost people.
- Jesus’ harvest vision was leveraged by prayer. We have no ability to transform anything without God’s power. Matthew 9:37-38. The source for harvest workers is not in recruitment strategies, but in prayer. Prayer recognizes God as externally focused.
- Jesus felt the needs of people. Why did Jesus weep at the death of Lazarus? Jesus was a man who deeply loved others. He cared for people who were hungry and afraid. He cared for the physically sick and the spiritually oppressed.
Is a great church one that does great things like have excellent programs, preaching or praying? Is it great because of its size? I don’t think so.
Ed Stetzer’s and Thom Rainer’s book Transformational Church reminds me of some things I already knew but haven’t talked about in a while. A great church is one in which LIFE CHANGE is happening at the individual and corporate level. How does a church begin to do that?
- They must rely more on God’s empowered mission and biblical mandate than the personal preferences of the congregation. Sadly, Christians are often more in love with the way they do church than they are in love with people in their community. The church must develop a “missionary mentality.” That means that the church understands the community and will minister in contextually appropriate ways to reach local people with the gospel. Moving to an external focus pushes the church from “doing missions” as part of some program into being “on mission as a way of life.”
- Vibrant leadership. Change starts with the leaders of the church. Vibrant leaders lead their people to worship, live in community, and live on mission. They are leaders who are being transformed in the presence of the people they lead. When the church assumes the role of missionary, a radical shift in the view of leadership must take place. The old model was to hoard and retain control. Vibrant leaders seek to empower and multiply. Leadership is the stewardship to help others exercise their gifts. We must move away from “How may I serve you?” to “How can I help you serve?”
- Relational intentionality. The church was designed by Christ as a collection of people participating in one another’s lives. So the church must provide platforms for new people to engage in significant relationships with one another and with people in need. A challenge today is that most people find themselves too busy. So we must teach people how to create relational space. But first we’ll have to teach why. Another challenge is to produce familial relationships without creating a closed group. This includes providing space for difficult people.
- Prayerful dependence. Prayer is the engine of truly great churches. Characteristics of praying churches? They have praying leaders. They commonly experience answers to prayer. They value corporate prayer. They engage their communities with prayer.
- A sense of anticipation and expectancy surrounds their worship services. While they may count attendance, a better barometer is how many encountered the transforming presence of God through worship. This means that people have to actively participating in worship, not just listening to a talking head or following along in their bulletin.
Is there anything you would add or subtract from this list? How have you seen these in your church?
Right timing makes a good decision a better decision.
When leaders fail to seize the moment, their leadership is undermined. The most common reason we FAIL to seize the moment is a fear of failure. How’s that for irony?! In leadership there’s no such thing as zero risk. If your mission is great, you will have to incur great risk to fulfill it.
When trying to discern the right time to take action, get feedback from your key people. As a leader, you will experience times when fear will try to get the better of you. But good leaders understand that ripe opportunities are never completely devoid of fear. And they moved forward despite the hesitation they may experience.
Dear God, I recognize that You have provided a season for everything and that I fit into Your divine purpose. I ask for discernment to understand Your timing. Give me the wisdom and courage to make the right decisions regardless of the cost, for I don’t want to miss out on the plan You have for my life.
When a church discourages conflict, it fails to make the kinds of changes necessary for ongoing health and relevance.
By conflict, I’m not talking about personalized or politicized confrontations! Rather, healthy conflict is an honest debate–sometimes heated–over competing values. Healthy conflict focuses on how best to accomplish our mission and what is in the best interest of the greater good. It requires kingdom thinking.
We often forget how much healthy conflict Jesus encouraged. He constantly challenged the religious elitism of his day. He challenged racism and sexism. He raised issues with his disciples on a regular basis. Jesus never minimized or avoided conflict.
Recruiting leaders requires prayer, care, and wisdom. The first step is to establish criteria. Here are 6:
- Calling: They should have prayerfully evaluated their calling to a leadership role. They have to be willing to pay the price of leadership out of love to God. Salvation is free; discipleship will cost.
- Character: Those who are called to leadership are called to a higher standard (James 3:1).
- Content: They should be grounded in the Bible and know what it means to be a follower of Christ. They should also know their stuff in the area of their expertise.
- Chemistry: Does each team member comprehend and embrace the ministry vision and goals? Does each team member commit to support the leader of the team? Will each commit to developing and sustaining meaningful and supportive relationships with others on the team?
An authentic calling, consistent character, informative content, demonstrated competency, true commitment, and productive chemistry are powerful team dynamics.
Leadership develops daily, not in a day. The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda or schedule. Why? Leadership is complicated. It involves respect, experience, emotional strength, people skills, discipline, vision, momentum, timing, etc. It’s not the dream of a lifetime, it’s the dream that takes a lifetime.
All leaders need 3 things to prepare them:
1) Time to mature;
2) Trials to strengthen;
3) God to bless.
Am I willing to pay the price to accomplish my dream?
There are costs to leadership. One is criticism. You can’t have a thin skin and hope to move people through thick plans. No leader is exempt from criticism, and their humility will no where be seen more clearly than in the manner in which they accept and react to it. Opposition is inevitable.
From Nehemiah 4:
- Realize it is impossible to lead without facing opposition.
- It’s essential that the first response be prayer.
- If opposition intensifies you may have to take additional action. But don’t let it stop God’s plans!