We are living in exciting days of the Lord’s church. Across the land, there are congregations moving forward by faith as more and more people are becoming involved in the ongoing growth of Christian ministry. Why is this happening? In a word —“Leadership,” this is the key. Christians of outstanding abilities are involved in leadership on all levels. This phenomenon has produced a renewed interest in leadership training as the “man in the pew” has become excited about the work in the church and his role in it. He is no longer content to sit still and let “George do it.” As one Elder put it, “We are taking leadership training more seriously than we have ever before.” Amen!
Unfortunately, the enduring issue that continues to curse many churches is not a lack of resources, not a lack of strategies, not a lack of programs, but a lack of Leadership. What does it take to lead a church to grow as God intended? It certainly takes more than the desire to grow. Many leaders struggle with motivating and involving members amid busy lifestyles as they find it difficult to concentrate on their key biblical roles and responsibilities with so many peripheral issues demanding their attention.
Despite the challenge to equip the church with solid leaders, we must never forget that “Bad men will when good men won’t.” In Judges 9:8-16, we have one of the few parables in the Old Testament. It shows an engagement of selecting a king from among upright men to reign over the people of God in Shechem. Unfortunately, because, none of the upright men would sacrifice their comfort zone to lead God’s people, by default the good men allowed an unjust, unrighteous, and unfair man to ascend to the kingship. Whenever those who know to do the right thing refuse, it opens the door for evil. Churches must ensure that they are raising men of integrity so that when the time comes to replace or install new leaders, they will have those who know how to take the lead, and not leave the Lord’s work in the hands of men of ill will or incompetence.
Leaders with integrity are a rare breed within a group of citizens. Too many leaders’ utmost concern is, “What is in it for me?” A selfish society does not always select a leader for their integrity but for their ability to manipulate a quick fix for chronic problems. It is short-sightedness that can set back a generation, because of their leader’s greed and corruption. However, men of integrity understand the big picture of principled leadership, and they value fear of God, trustworthiness, and honest economics. A leader of integrity looks out over the long term and discovers what is best for the church, and families.
It’s worth noting that leaders are essential to the work of the church, and no matter how naturally gifted some might be, the need to be developed in competency and character, to develop one’s unique giftings, remains. There is no shortage of opinions as to how we can reverse these troubling trends and make healthy, growing churches the rule rather than the exception. Leadership is an inevitable calling, and you may already be in leadership and doing a good job, but good leaders are always striving to become better ones. Leadership appears to be glamorous but is more often lonely and thankless.
Leaders are essential to the work of the church and since the church is the primary vehicle by which God’s agenda is accomplished, then the primary engine that drives the church is Christ-focused Christ-honoring leaders. The church needs to put more effort into developing leaders who are Christ-focused, highly competent men of character who know how to reproduce their lives through the lives of others.
However, considering my experience, it is my belief that “Private leadership must come before Public leadership.” Every man must first govern himself and govern his own family, a small society he must master, before he governs a larger one, the church (1 Timothy 3:4, 5; 4:10-16). Someone said that the “home is the boot camp for church leadership.” Everyone must use training wheels at some point in life, at least for a little while.
My hope in this article is to strike a chord in the hearts of those who are stimulated by the thought of leading others. As we will learn, the best Leaders are true Servants.
Benjamin A. Griffin, D Min., Ed. D