Christian Leadership: 4 Important Considerations That You Must Think About
Back in the days when I was involved in full-time ministry, the organisation was organising Christian leadership conferences and seminar. And I often shared that I am not a fan of the concept of Christian leadership, especially when one can basically use any Bible verses to teach about “Christian leadership.” This made me reflect how we can meaningfully define leadership in the Christian setting.
It is under such context that I recently attended a class on Christian leadership with ACTS College.
The sessions of discussion provided me clarity on leadership and the Bible as the course helped me to understand what exactly is Christian leadership.
1. The Bible is not primarily about Christian Leadership
A bad habit that most Christian leadership speakers adopt is to extract leadership principles from Biblical characters and Scripture verses. Many of them will look into characters such as Jesus, David, Paul, Nehemiah etc and teach people what leadership principles we can glean from these characters.
However, the Bible is really not about Christian leadership.
Instead, the Bible is really about God’s redemptive plan, the story of how humankind has sinned against God and thus triggered God’s plan to redeem us from the bondage of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ (Rom 1-4). It is God’s revelation on how He would reconcile His precious creations who have sinned and turned away from Him. The election of Israel in the OT and the writings in the NT both are part of this grand narrative. This means that any principles that we draw from the Bible have to be seen against the light of God’s redemptive plan.
On the flip side, any attempt to extract leadership principles from the Scriptive has the high chance of running into inaccurate biblical interpretation. Instead of exegesis, we will end up reading our own leadership meaning into the passages we are quoting. And these meanings may not even be what the original audience was supposed to hear.
2. Redemption defines the essence of Christian Leadership
Because the Bible is about God’s redemptive plan, we therefore need to remember that we are merely instruments for God’s redemptive plan. God is the main cast and we are the supporting cast. God’s redemption is the first principle and essence of Christian leadership.
What this means is this: that our main role as a Christian leader is not bring forth numerical growth in church. It is also not to become great or anything. Our main role is really be God’s servants (Gk: Duolos) first of all and exemplify godly life and communicate God’s word so that we can point our people to Christ and inspire them towards worship and service.
If I may put it, we can say that when we do our role as God’s servant well (meaning that we disciple people well and follow God’s will in all aspects of our lives), it is difficult for us not to see growth in our ministries.
But the first thing is really to first see ourselves as God’s servant. In biblical times, servants (or slaves) are bonded to their masters and are required to follow their masters’ will and commands with no disobedience expected. Therefore, when the NT authors call themselves ‘servant (or slave) of God,’ they are really saying that they are bound to follow God’s will in their lives.
What this means is this – we are called to be faithful and steward well what God has entrusted to us. This may involve expanding the resources that He has given but the key is in the faithful stewardship for the purpose of His redemptive plan, not simply for church growth or anything else.
So are we first and foremost God’s servant? Or do we see ourselves as something greater than God’s servant?
3. Christian Leadership is both a product and process
Being a Christian leader is a product of God’s grace. This means that as Christian leaders, we cannot think that we are in a leadership position by our own abilities. Actually, this is a trap that I think most leaders would probably fall into – that we judge ourselves based on our own abilities. We either think too highly of ourselves based on our abilities or think too lowly of ourselves based on the lack.
However, we have to look beyond our abilities and fix our eyes at God.
After all, none of us deserves to be in a position to serve Him. Yet, He not only gives us grace so that we can be reconciled with Him, but He also gives us the grace to serve Him (Eph 4:7). Hence, when we focus too much on our abiities (or lack of), we end up not upward looking but more inward looking than we really realise.
Being a Christian leader is also a process – it is a process of continuous sanctification and refining by God for His kingdom. Similar to any other members in the body of Christ, we are all predestined to conform to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). This implies a process that we have to go through. Therefore, we need to realise that we can be ‘imperfect’ when we take up the role of a Christian leader because God is still in the process of molding us.
4. Continuous growth in biblical and theological understanding is non-negotiable in Christian Leadership
Because the Christian leader is always in the process of being moulded by God, this means that he cannot stay still and remain contented at where he is. While it is true that we cannot perceive our current position based on our own abilities, we do need to realise that we are not God and hence there is always room for improvement.
Therefore, as I reflect, perhaps one of the most important thing for a Christian leader to go through is to continuously grow in their biblical and theological understanding. I see this as non-negotiable given that as Christian leader, part of our ‘job scope’ is to protect our flocks and to build up their spiritual maturity so that they will not be deceived by false teachings. While other skills are important, this is one skill that is the most unique to Christian leadership.
I hope that these brief thoughts about Christian leadership can help to spur some further reflections. What are your thoughts? Comment below and I hope to hear from you!