Musings On Biblical Leadership.
These are a few disparate thoughts on church leadership that arose from some patchy conversations with different ones over the past weeks. It is pertinent to note that God had laid down some character traits of a faithful leader (Exodus 18:19-22; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Tim 3:1-13; 2 Tim 2:2-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5), and perfection is not one of them. Given men’s certain transitoriness in this world and God’s eternity, one of the perennial Biblical gauges to good leadership is the subject of succession, which has to be confronted sooner than later. No human leader, despite his divine enabling and prevailing gifting remains in his appointment interminably. Eventually, that responsibility has to be passed on to another mortal successor, hopefully within the ambit of God’s choosing. This pattern of leadership succession has been woven into the fabric of divine endeavours since time immemorial.
Furthermore, it is beyond doubt that God is the One who initiates and sustains any spiritual work. He may have begun a labour of love through an individual, but no human owns it; we are merely good stewards obediently serving Him as He moves the agency forward. In that sense, He is the head of the body as we graciously serve together (Ps 24:1; John 5:17; 1 Cor 4:1-2; Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:17-18; Col 3:23-24). The prime objective of any leadership appointment is to seek to glorify God rather than man, and being in authority does not preclude humility, transparency and accountability within the body of Christ(c.f., Eph 2:19-22; 1 Peter 5:1-3). A distinctive failure of leadership occurs when they begin to selfishly assume ownership of God’s labours for themselves and rise above being accountable to God and man.
Church leadership epitomizes the servanthood of Christ in the discharge of their responsibilities, and therefore they serve as a highly visible Christological model for their congregation, where despite their fallible humanity, their attitudes and behaviour are often unconsciously taken on as replicable paradigms. Consequently, as they demonstrate relational Christ-centeredness and a sacrificial caring for others, their impact on the health of the local church is significant. In addition, teamwork is of the essence in any successful work of God as it demonstrates the quality of the Body of Christ in action (1 Cor 3:5-9; 1 Cor 12:14-27). Good leaders, like Christ, graciously endeavours to maximize their colleagues’ full potential in their personal, professional and spiritual lives, and joyfully look for opportunities to celebrate each team member’s unique gifts; thereby, preparing others around them for when they will no longer be leading one day. A strong personality does not necessarily prognosticate a negative leadership style, but one who is unsanctified and self-indulgent usually does more harm in the long-term.
Leadership cannot be the end-all-and-be-all of one’s spiritual walk with God, for they lead best when they are personally being led by our Lord Jesus Christ. If they seek to become good leaders, they need to continue to follow Him as He leads them and builds His church (c.f., John 10:27-28; Heb 12:2); viz., good leaders are inevitably good followers. By continuously keeping their eyes on Him and putting all their trust in their Lord, will lead them away from trusting themselves. John the Baptist’s focal missive remains a sober reminder to all of us: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).