A group of Church leaders are working on developing a leadership strategy for the South Pacific Division. The strategy is to be God-focused and biblically based, so we are researching and writing a short theology of leadership.
All of us can identify people who were significant in our leadership development. For example: there was the senior pastor who supported the idea of an intern even though the idea was not fully developed; the treasurer who offered the young accountant another perspective on the issue at hand; the senior pastor who gave the intern a Bible study contact of his own that would certainly lead to a baptism; the trusting principal who allowed a young teacher to try a new method of teaching; the president who challenged a newly ordained pastor to lead the city-wide disciple-making project; quiet chats in the car or corridor imparting wisdom; sharing real-life situations faced in the past for learning.
No leader today is self-made and especially not in the Church. After all we are a “community of faith”.
Leadership is a part of the discipleship journey. Leaders need mentors. The 12 apostles had Jesus, Paul had Barnabas, Paul then mentored Silas, Timothy and many others. Leaders ultimately serve the community but it is the community and other leaders within that community who serve and develop new leaders. We all play a part in the leadership development of others.
Leaders within the Church are called by God and work toward the same purpose as God—to restore humans into a real life connection with their loving Creator. God gifts the leaders He calls. In biblical history, God, in grace, chose patriarchs, prophets, priests, kings, shepherds, fishermen, women, children and farmers to be leaders, so God could call you. He also provides the best model—His own Son, Jesus.
"No leader today is self-made and especially not in the Church."
Jesus modelled leadership, God-style. He gave up eternity in heaven to be born a baby on a planet in rebellion—with no special privileges. His love healed bodies, minds and hearts. He spoke compassion and truth, challenging people to deal with their issues and receive a better quality of life. Jesus came to serve and bring hope and reconciliation. He did no wrong and gave up His life, died to take the human penalty and consequence of sin, and finally conquered death for all people. Such servant leadership is the model He calls current leaders of God’s movement to—in humility, love, patience, kindness, courage and strength. Power, control, position, authority and self-interest are not the characteristics of a godly Christian leader.
Jesus still calls disciples of all kinds to leadership in many areas of church life. His grace will equip them with spiritual power and grow them in character and competencies. Ultimately leaders help others to know, love and be disciples of Jesus.
Ideally Christian leaders will have clarity of thought, speech and lifestyle regarding vision: God’s preferred future, mission; God’s call for action, purpose; God’s enduring path, values; God’s methods and way through the many obstacles. Leaders will live out these convictions. They serve others, stand for what is right and build collaboration so all humans can experience the love and life God gives.
No-one I know has done all of this, but God still uses them.
The group working on the SPD leadership strategic plan dream of having every leader developing and mentoring at least three other potential leaders, so when vacancies occur within the Church there will be a handful of candidates who could thrive in the new leadership role. I am attempting to invest in other leaders and am learning much in the process.
If you are a deacon, elder, Pathfinder leader, Sabbath school leader, women’s ministry leader or children’s Sabbath school leader, the big question is: Who else are you developing to take your place? Who are you investing in and praying for? Other than yourself, who are you supporting and growing for the sake of God’s dynamic community? The leaders of the future are depending on you—you could be influencing a significant leader in God’s last day movement!