A young pastor was conducting the funeral of a war veteran. The dead man’s military friends, wanting a part in the service, asked him to escort them to the casket, stand with them for a moment of remembrance, then lead them out through the side door. The pastor did precisely that, but not being familiar with the funeral
home, he picked the wrong door. They marched with military precision into a janitorial closet! That story says two things about leadership. First, if you’re going to lead, you’d better know where you’re going. Second, if you’re going to follow, you’d better
follow someone who knows where he’s going.
Being someone who has been blessed with or cursed with the spiritual gift of administration, this concept of not using my leadership gift is troubling. Is it right for me as a pastor to sit on or bury my God-given gifts? Scripture would caution me not to bury that gift, saying clearly this is a bad management of God’s gifts.
Matthew shares this parable of Jesus,
24 “Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25 So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? 27 In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers, so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest.”
If you have been given the gift of leadership then lead. There is a way to lead a congregation faithfully as a pastor let us explore a few key things to keep in mind.
Christian leaders place God first.
‘‘As we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.’’ 1 Thessalonians 2:4,
Authentic, godly leadership places its focus on equipping His saints for service not to puff ourselves up but to do the will of our Father. One reason pastors and other Christians do not want to lead is that leadership is hard, it comes with a high cost. When the Apostle Paul tried to lead he had to deal with a major push back. People questioned his motives, they questioned his theology and questioned his methods. Paul reminded them that his teaching and leadership came from God’s truth. Too often leaders ask, ‘‘Will it work?’’ rather than ‘‘Is it true?’’
Look at how Paul responded to the attacks when he was questioned. He told
the Thessalonians, “You can testify to our work. 2 As you know, we suffered rough and insulting treatment in Philippi. But our God gave us the courage to tell you his Good News in spite of strong opposition. 3 When we encouraged you, we didn’t use unethical schemes, corrupt practices, or deception. 4 Rather, we are always spreading the Good News. God trusts us to do this because we passed his test. We don’t try to please people, but God, who tests our motives. 5 As you know, we never used flattery or schemes to make money. God is our witness! 6 We didn’t seek praise from people, from you or from anyone else, 7 although as apostles of Christ we had the right to do this.” (GWN)
Authentic leadership places its focus on God: His approval, his purpose, and will above all else. How do we recognize such leaders? By the testimony of those they serve. The focus of their message and ministry squarely centered on the proclamation of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and delivered with care and love for God’s people. You hear that so clearly in Paul’s words, “8 We felt so strongly about you that we were determined to share with you not only the Good News of God but also our lives. That’s how dear you were to us!” (GWN)
Christian leaders focus on God’s kingdom.
Leadership is more than talents and techniques; it is humility and caring for those we’re leading. Notice the images in verses 7 and 11: ‘‘We were gentle . . . as a nursing mother . . . as a father.’’ In verse 9, Paul says he supported himself on behalf of the church. If we’re going to be leaders in God’s service, it can’t be done from a distance. We must lower our defenses and love people for Christ’s sake. That makes us vulnerable. That means when attacks come it hurts more, but that is the high cost of leadership. It is easier to not lead, but doesn’t the mission of God and his sheep deserve our all our sacrifice? God provides
the courage and the strength for us to lead, so we need to lead.