Christian Leaders must Lead
I am a Pastor, a business owner, a husband, and a father. I am also constantly challenged when I see how Christians lead their teams and families, both in a church and a business environment.
Now by no means am I perfect….Far from it however after many years in leadership positions I pray that i can pass some of my experiences on especially for the younger generations that are being hoisted into positions they possibly aren’t ready for.
How Leaders Must Lead
Clear vision, love, authority, and submission combine to form the servant leader. Understanding the vision takes constant vigilance. Jesus sets the stage for servant leadership clearly and definitively throughout John 13. He washes the disciples’ feet, claims his leadership, tells them to do likewise, sees what is out ahead, and confronts Peter.
The first directive of leadership here is love. Jesus loved those closest to him, those he was given to lead. He reiterates that sentiment through his prayer to the Father in John 17. The inference is clear. You can change the world, but to do so you start with loving the people closest to you, those given to you to lead.
Jesus expresses his love and demonstrates how leaders must lead. They lead by serving the needs, not the wants of those given them, This is something we need to learn to understand. Needs and wants are two completely different things. This directive is a difficult task in many ways. Humbling ourselves is an ego exercise that leads to a healthy understanding of submission. A far more subtle and therefore more difficult task is to recognise the needs of others so that they may reach their potential rather than just serving desires. It is hard to sort wants, desires, and needs. That’s where clear vision is imperative.
How does Peter respond to Jesus’ leadership? Initially, Peter refuses to let Jesus serve him. Here’s the conversation they had in John 13:6-9:
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Peter realises that to fully participate with Jesus he needs to be served by Jesus. Peter then jumps in and wants a full-service treatment!
Then in verses 12-17, Jesus reiterates his call to love. Leadership is love in action. Love gives and love receives in perfect balance.
Leaders: Be an Example
So what makes a good leader? Is it someone who sets worthy objectives, develops effective strategies, and implements those plans efficiently and with a degree of excellence? What a leader does matters but God zeros in on who the person is more than what one does. What we do our teams will do.
A good leader leads by example.
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2-3)
Qualification for Being an Example:
To be an example, leaders must follow the example of Christ. The only legitimate expectation leaders can put on people for following them is when they are following the example of Christ.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (Jn. 13:15, Jesus)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1, Apostle Paul)
Areas in which to be an Example:
The list of areas in which Scripture specifically references Christ as an example to follow:
In humility … how to treat people with the heart of a servant (Jn. 13:15; Phil. 2:5-8)
In perseverance … how to endure suffering or adverse circumstances without losing joy (1 Pet. 2:21; Heb. 12:1-4)
The Apostle Paul’s list of areas in which to be an example (1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Thess. 3:7; Titus 2:7-8):
In speech … the way you communicate
In manner of life … the way you conduct yourself
In love … the way you respond to God and people
In faith … the way you trust God
In purity … the way you confront temptation & sin in your life
In work ethic … the way you serve
In goodness … the way you demonstrate integrity
The Apostle Peter’s list of areas in which leaders should be examples (1 Pet. 5:2-3):
In attitude toward serving … with an impassioned heart, not discouraged by the time and effort it takes
In attitude toward money … with an undivided heart toward God, not distracted by greed in having or making money
In attitude toward the people you serve … with a humble heart, not delusional about your importance and influence over others
Christian Leadership in the Workplace
If you are in a leadership position in your career, you may struggle with how to be an effective leader while at the same time holding true to Christian values. Regardless if you supervise a few or hundreds in your company, it is possible to be an effective leader and perform you job in a way that would make Christ proud, without being overly critical, condescending or authoritarian. Christian leadership qualities can be exhibited at work, at home, at church, at play and in your community.
By following Christ’s teachings in the workplace, you will accomplish the responsibilities and goals of your job while, at the same time, serving as a role model to other Christians who are subordinate to you. Direct quotes from the Bible can be interpreted and applied to how you conduct yourself as a leader in the workplace. Here are some biblical aspects of true leadership that can be transformed to apply to how you carry out your leadership position in your career. Below are several Bible passages with an explanation of how they can be lived in your day-to-day life as a workplace leader:
Romans 8:28, a Christian leader must have a true and faithful relationship with the Lord. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” By working and living through God, you are carrying out His purpose for you. By having a true and faithful relationship with your Lord, your colleagues will know your intentions are heartfelt and good.
John 10:11, Good leaders must never forget they are servants who understand Jesus gave his life for his flock. You, too, must serve at work and never forget you are there to look out for your “flock” and serve others. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
Peter 5:1-3 Oversee your workers and be a role model to them, so they will behave and work as your example has shown. Do not lead for dishonest gain or to promote your status over your underlings. Serve others because you want to not because you have to and be an example to your staff. The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed. Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” A good leader shows others the way and does not harshly criticise or insult when mistakes are made.
Ezekiel 34:16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” Lead with compassion, encouragement and patience. If employees feel lost or have a crisis of faith in their work, lead them back to confidence and certainty.
Proverbs 3:12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects. When an employee makes a mistake, correct with constructive criticism, not hurtful, belittling words that will only instil fear and anxiety in the employee. Some of the best work is performed after guidance has been provided. Positive reinforcement will yield much better results than negative feedback.
Thessalonians 5:14-15 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. An effective leader will give his workers authority to set and accomplish their own goals. A sense of ownership of good work is crucial in providing incentive to do further good work. Acknowledge and reward when goals are met, both large and small.
Matthew 15:14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. Those who fail to lead will have nobody following them. You cannot lead if there is no one behind you. You cannot merely assume your underlings are following you. Turn back and make sure you are not in a “blind leading the blind” situation.
Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. A good leader will forgive and move on.
Hebrews 13: 5-6 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say, the LORD is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me? A leader must have confidence in Christ.
Leadership in the Home – A Godly Man Leads
A husband is called to lead his wife. Though this is an unpopular statement in this day and in this culture, it is one that Christians must affirm. Male headship is taught so clearly in Scripture that to deny it leaves us prone to fall into any number of other radically false teachings. If we can read the Bible and walk away denying male headship, we can walk away denying any doctrine that offends our sensibilities.
The godly husband is to lead his family. You are to lead your family. Though some may assume that this is a kind of leadership that depends on fear and dominance, the Bible teaches something very different. When speaking of male headship, the Bible gives us the ultimate example of ultimate leadership. “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour” (Ephesians 5:23). The husband is to be head of his wife in the same way that Christ is head of his church. And what kind of headship did Christ offer the church? Was it harsh or loving? Was it domineering or gentle? Was it proud or humble? Christ loved the church so much that he never did anything harsh to her, he never did anything unfitting, he never did anything angry or unjust. He loved the church so much that he counted it as more precious than his own life. He gave up his own life so that she might live. This, Christ himself, is the model for you as a godly husband. If you wish to lead your family in a way that is faithful to Scripture, you will study the way Christ loved the church and you will seek to imitate your Saviour.
You are called to lead: in leadership, in worship, as a father and as a husband. I will focus most attention on the final one of these.
LEAD IN LEADERSHIP
There are different areas or levels of leadership within the family structure. The wife leads areas of the family and older children may assume leadership in some areas. In a household that includes in laws or non family members there may be more levels of leadership even than that. But as husband you are the leader of leaders. You are responsible for overall direction, vision, leadership of the family. The buck stops with you. We see this, for example, in 1 Timothy 3:12 where we find among the qualifications for a deacon that he must manage his children and his household well. He manages well by leading well.
This is more a responsibility than it is a privilege (see Matthew 20:26-28). This is an opportunity for you to serve your family through godly, servant leadership and not an opportunity for you to lord it over your family as a ruthless tyrant. As the leader of the leaders you ensure that others are leading as they should, that they are leading only in the areas they should. You will find humble and dignified ways of ensuring that others are leading well and that they are doing what they should as they should.
LEAD IN WORSHIP
The godly husband leads his family in worship. He ensures that the family members are worshiping and that they are worshiping in a way that is consistent with Scripture.
You need to lead in corporate worship. You need to take the lead in corporate worship, not only in ensuring that your family attends church but also in the choice of church. You need to lead in worship, while absolutely essential to the Christian faith. Christians have long emphasised the importance of regular (usually daily) worship.
You need to lead in personal worship. The godly husband knows the value of personal devotions. You must be committed to spending time one on one with God through the reading of the Word and prayer. If you are to be a godly leader in your home, you need to take the lead in this!
LEAD AS A FATHER
The husband is the one who is ultimately responsible for his children. Too many men have abdicated this responsibility, assuming that the mother is the one who is primarily responsible for raising the kids. But no, it is you, the father, who must lead your children. It is not without importance that the Bible’s admonitions to raise godly children are directed not at wives but at husbands. In the past people have understood what today we tend to ignore. Dad is primarily responsible for raising the children.
Of course this does not excuse mothers from being involved in raising their children.It simply shows that it is ultimately you the father who bears responsibility before God to ensure that children are raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). You must take the lead and bear the responsibility in teaching and training your children. In many cases you will delegate this to others, mothers, teachers, and so on. But you are the one who leads and who is most answerable to God.
LEAD AS A HUSBAND
The reality of male headship means that a husband is responsible for his wife’s well being in a way she is not responsible for his. It falls upon you to ensure that you live peaceably with your wife so that your prayers (not her prayers) may not be hindered by any discord between you (see 1 Peter 3:7). As leader, you bear the greater responsibility and the greater burden. Here are some specific ways you must lead your wife:
Lead with Love. The leadership of the godly husband is marked by love (Ephesians 5:25). Your wife, aware as she is of your sin, should never have reason to doubt that you love her, that you love your children, that you are committed to serving your bride in this unique role. You must be willing to forsake your own desires, your own comfort, your own rights in order to express love for your wife. Your leadership must be marked with the kind of love that marked Christ’s love for his church. That same love, that same desire for God’s glory, flows from Christ to the husband and into the family.
Lead with Gentleness. The godly husband leads his wife with meekness and gentleness. You need to be aware of your own sin and your own failings. You need to lead your wife gently, aware of her own struggles and weaknesses. Heed the word of God which says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Lead with Dignity. Lead her with an awareness that you are a servant first, a leader second. Do nothing to puff yourself up with pride but everything to show your wife that you esteem her higher than yourself.
Lead with Confidence. This is a particular challenge today, of course, at a time when culture has conditioned us to thinking that men have no business being leaders over their wives. But the godly husband listens to Scripture above the world and leads his wife, confident that God calls him to do just this. Lead your wife with a humble confidence, even when you are called upon to make difficult or unpopular decisions. Lead with confidence that God is willing and able to bless you for your obedience.
So a husband is to lead with love, gentleness, dignity and confidence.
You have heard it said, I’m sure, that nature abhors a vacuum. This is absolutely true when it comes to leadership. If you do not lead your family, someone else will; someone else will have to. But God has called you to lead, to lead with great joy and delight, to lead though it may be costly, and to lead with love. Lead your wife, lead your family, and do it all for the glory of God.
Study your Bible and seek out what the inspired word of God says to you about leadership, most of all though Trust in God not man for your position.
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