The Call for Leadership
The Personality of the leader
Training of Leaders
The work of leaders
a. Leader a Servant
b. Leader as Shepherd
c. Leader as a Steward
d. Leader as an Overseer
Developing other Leaders
Leader as a vision holder
Leaders and Church Growth
List of readings
Thanks to Mpho Putu my brother and friend for continued support and Inspiration.
To wife Vicky, Ontlametse and Phenyo, my sons for the great support and their love. And to the Orlando Baptist Church members whom I love and always support and stood by us as a family and gave me the opportunity to be their Pastor by God’s grace for the past 18 years . I appreciate each one of them.
To God be the Glory
South Africa like most of countries in the continent is in dire need and crying out for good leadership and good governance. The lack of good quality, efficient and qualified leadership presents a great challenge in business, governments and even the civil society organisations. This is as a result of the legacy of apartheid system. The impact is poorly unqualified leadership, underperformance, and in some cases leading to corrupt activities. There is a long standing cry in government that people are placed in leadership positions which they are not qualified for, nor even skilled to undertake such responsibilities, nepotism and partisan. These challenges undermines the growth and development of organisations including the country. This situation is also found even in churches as organisation. Churches are attended so many people who contributes a lot of money, yet it lacks good quality leadership. There is no doubt that the need for effective strong visionary leadership in the church in South Africa is high, yet, young talented and promising leaders have not received much structured support for developing their full leadership potential. The bible shows that Jesus Christ spent time with his disciple training them to be the world leaders. By strengthening leadership skills, the Church could improve results and strengthen the prospects for sustainable growth and prosperity.
According to Atterbury (2002) Church leadership has some resemblance to leadership in general, but can be clearly distinguished on the grounds of definite attributes from leadership in other areas of life. The church does not function different from other organisations, there are many resemblances. Just as the body of a Christ does not work differently from the body of other people, the church, as the body of Christ, doesn‘t function different in all aspects from other corporate bodies.
The Church growth science, emphasises leadership as the critical factor in church growth (Wagner 1984:100-103), gave rise to a growing interest in the past two decades in this study field, namely church leadership (Beasley-Murray 1990). In essence, according to Shawchuck and Heuser (1993) it came down to the fact that church leadership became the decisive factor in determining the effectiveness of a church and the single most contributing factor that allows a church to develop its full potential. In addition, Barna (1997) and Perry (1977) emphasise that church leadership is the most important aspect of church functionality and acts The church in the New Testament according to Getz (1981) is pictured as a unique organism. Even in its local expression, it is more than an organisation. Every localised group of believers is composed of individual members, who are to function and be part of the whole. Richards and Hoeldtke (1980), states that there are a very basic difference between leadership in an enterprise and leadership in the church. The church is a living organism, with each member a vital part. The primary objective of a church leader is the health of the organism and all its members, while an enterprise gives priority to projects and tasks.
The Church needs efficient, equipped and strong leaders who will exert their influence to encourage others toward the accomplishment of work of the Kingdom of God. Studies in church leadership have increased greatly in recent years. Although the leadership issue is getting hotter in the church environment and many studies have been produced, there are still lot of challenges of Church leadership in South Africa particularly among the African denominations (generalisation). As a result Church leadership has not grown to be effective and efficient to can influence the direction of the church to be where God want it to be.
“When the pastor has succeeded in establishing between himself and his neighbours and parishioners such relations of friendship, great opportunities of helpful ministry will come to him. As friend and counsellor and guide of men, heavy responsibilities will be laid upon him. According to Washington Gladden, there will be no confessional in which the pastor will sit as the mouthpiece of God, to hear the word of the penitent and pronounce absolution, but if he is the kind of man that he ought to be, a great many stories of doubt and perplexity and sorrow and shame and despair are likely to be poured into his ears.”1
The need for good leadership is essential not only in the Secular world but also in the church context. Ted Engstrom pointed that present problem facing this generation is a ‘leadership crisis'. John Haggai has also observed that the call for leaders is necessary because we are experiencing a crisis of leadership in our world. This reflection is shared by many people round the globe and the challenge is to create more humane yet productive social order is the heart of leadership. We need to recognise the challenge is not restricted to political, economic or business sectors of life; it is also so much for the church leadership Dynamics in Christian leadership, specifically within the church in South African, is constantly changing. The pressures of an ever changing society, culture, democracy, the constitution, have placed leaders under the constant strain to conform to sociological and political norms. There is a need for Washington Gladden et al., The Christian Pastor And Working Church (New York, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911), 176. Leaders to constantly adapt to ministry styles which will meet the new challenges of the time although on the other hand they may quickly find themselves as a dog chasing its tail, with so much development happening so fast. The prize always is just out of reach. For leadership in the modern culture to be effective, leaders must constantly learn the dynamics of the culture without comprising the eternal truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Good church leadership leads to healthy and successful growing of the church. In this book the word leader or leadership as used in this context refers to the Pastor or someone who lead the church.1
2. Leadership is defined
Many different authors have described Leadership in a variety of ways, each writing from within a certain organizational framework and experience. John W. Gardener In his book, The Nature of Leadership, defines leadership “as the process of persuasion and example by which an individual (or leadership team) induces a group to take action that is in accord with the leader’s purposes or the shared purposes of all”2. Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard say it is “interpersonal influence exercised in a situation and directed, through the communication process, toward the attainment of a special goal or goals”. Both author’s definition contains some insights, yet each seems to fall short in some respect, especially when we consider spiritual leadership in the church. James E. Means defines the spiritual leadership as the development of relationships with the people of a Christian institution or body in such a way that individuals and the group are enabled to formulate and achieve biblically compatible goals that meet real needs.
By their ethical influence, spiritual leaders serve to motivate and enable others to achieve what otherwise would never be achieved. Barna defines church leadership as: .. .called by God to lead; leads with and through Christlike character; and demonstrates the functional competencies that permit effective leadership to take place. One crucial ingredient in this definition is the emphasis upon others’ (group and individual) goals, not the personal goals of the leader. In other words, spiritual leaders must recognize the fundamental difference between biblical goals and their personal opinions about church decisions. Leadership that is compatible with scripture guideline can only be other-centred: it can never be leader-centred3
Leadership has been defined in terms of individual traits, behaviour, influence over other people, interaction patterns, role relationships, occupation of an administrative position, and perception by others regarding legitimacy of influence. Leadership is the behaviour of an individual when he is directing the activities of a group toward a shared goal4.
Dr. Clinton's says Leadership is a dynamic process over an extended period of time in various situations in which a leader utilizing leadership resources, and by specific leadership behaviours, influences followers, toward accomplishment of aims mutually beneficial for leaders and followers. He emphasizes the importance of dynamic relationship that produces some desired goals. One thing we can find in common through the above definitions is that leadership is fulfilled in the process of leadership behaviours influencing followers. It is seen from this discussion that leaders are not automatically recognizable by being in a leadership position. Therefore, effective leadership fulfilment depends on each leader's ability.
Christian leadership is the act of influencing people to embrace God's will for their life, for His Church, and for the world. In II Timothy 1:1, the Apostle Paul writes, “Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) Biblical Christian Leadership finds its roots in the call of God. It is the Lord who calls His servants. It is the Lord who gives wisdom and insight for leadership, through the direct influence of His word, His Church, and His Spirit. While Christian leaders are nurtured by fellow members of the body of Christ, it is God alone who calls and ultimately equips leaders for service in the body of Christ.
Leadership has been defined differently throughout the years. The common element of all the definitions is influence in a relationship or group. There are different ways, manners, and means to exercise this influence depending on the particular situation. There is no general theory of leadership that explains all aspects of the processes. Most theories of leadership focus on a narrow perspective and examine only one part of the entire process.
Across the spectrum of the modern Christianity the Church has found the common notion that Christian Leadership is rooted in means very similar to that of the leadership of the secular world. In various Christian circles the “gate keepers” to the ministry erroneously demand credentials, often to the exclusion of calling. Those who seek to lead God's people do well to possess the educational credentials needed to be properly prepared for the task at hand. This should not, however, be to the exclusion of the call of God.
Chris Suber writes that, the possession of the “right credentials” does not inherently mean that one is called of God for Christian leadership. Christian character, the ability to relate to people, and the ability to teach the word of God are primary considerations for Christian leadership5. The honest Christian leader intuitively knows that unless God has called him or her to the task at hand, no accumulation of credentials will be sufficient preparation for the work. Time and again ministers of the Gospel who are well trained from prominent seminaries fail in the task, seemingly because the call and provision of God is lacking.
Christian leadership is well understood as the means and methods, undergirded by a sound biblical philosophy which rooted in the calling of God, which one uses in order to influence a group of people to accomplish a task or reach a goal. That goal may be the general work of the Church to cultivate Christian character or the specific work of building individual churches in accordance with God's will for them within the specific context of where God has placed them.
The goals of Christian leadership are defined by the will of God specifically, and are always in accordance with what has been expressed in the pages of the Bible. It is for this very reason that Christian leadership must find its root in the call of God. When the gifts of leadership are recognized in a believer, they must be nurtured to their fullest potential in formal and informal settings. “No leader can effectively accomplish the work of leading unless he or she has defined a goal.” No person who has ever accomplished great things for God led a life of leadership which was characterized by aimlessness. While Christian leadership often necessitates navigating uncharted waters, in order to reach a goal Christian leaders must point the ship in the direction of that goal. The young person who appears to have an interest, ability, and passion for the understanding and teaching of the Word of God, for example, should be given opportunities to explore the gifts of Christian leadership to discern if they are in accordance with the plan of God for their life.
The ability to preach and teach, however, is not enough to discern a call for the Christian leadership. Apart from the call of God, which is birthed within the inner reaches of one's soul, a person should not assume that the role of pastor or teacher is God's will for their life. The presence of such gifts is often indicative of a call to Christian leadership. Nevertheless, Great pains should be taken on the part of an individual to properly and prayerfully discern a call to Christian leadership in any capacity.
One of the great challenges of Christian leadership is to lovingly and gently, but firmly and directly uproot these types of unhealthy, unbiblical leadership styles in order to replace them with more sincere forms of Christian leadership. Inherent to Christian leadership is the notion of entering into a covenant relationship with those whom one leads. The role of the Christian leader, particularly in that of the pastor, teacher, and even evangelist, is to enter into a genuine relationship with people. A man may be the minister because of the title on his door, but he will only be a person’s pastor if in their hearts, he is trusted, respected, and loved.
3. The call of Leadership
Paul writes to Timothy “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Many people thinks a Preacher preaches powerful exciting sermons, is a Pastor. Some think one may be a minister because of the title on his door. The role of the Christian leader, particularly which of the pastor, teacher, and even evangelist, is to enter into a genuine relationship with people. One will only be a person’s pastor if in their hearts, he is trusted, respected, and loved. When the pastor has succeeded in establishing between himself and his neighbours and parishioners such relations of friendship, great opportunities of helpful ministry will come to him. As friend, a counsellor and guide of men, heavy responsibilities will be laid upon him. There will be no confessional in which he will sit as the mouthpiece of God, to hear the word of the penitent and pronounce absolution, but if he is the kind of man that he ought to be, a great many stories of doubt and perplexity and sorrow and shame and despair are likely to be poured into his ears.”6
Christian leadership does not happen in a vacuum. It is a calling that comes or deals with individuals who are made in the image of God and feel the need to give a certain direction to the church, people of God as prompted and led with great wisdom by God. The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, list few meanings for the verb “to call”. One of them is described by the synonyms “summon; send a message to. According to Horne the term “calling, call” is one of the most common words in the bible, representing over twenty words in the Hebrew and Greek text. When applied, he says the term refers to “God's call to a special office or service”.
Paul introduces himself as “called to be an apostle” (Romans 1.1). Within the Christian church the understanding of the word to “call” refers to a special leadership position in Ministry. Therefore to be effective in leadership the leader should benchmark his style of leadership with that of Jesus Christ. Jesus chose, developed, and equipped followers who turned into leaders. The disciples went on and became successful in ministry because Jesus pushed His followers forward without waiting for them to demand responsibility, position or office.
Ministry is not a career it is a calling because a pastor gets called by God into ministry. If called by God the pre-requisite should not be about higher qualification in order to do the work of ministry because the Holy Spirit is the teacher. Seminary education should not qualify a person for the ordained ministry, although very essential in our world today.
Pastors are called by God with a specific assignment and they need to act responsible to God‘s calling. God gave Moses an assignment to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and God promised Moses His full support. Inherent in God‘s call is something fierce and unmanageable. He does the calling; we do the answering7. Ministry work is a higher calling and nothing is more fulfilling for the pastor than to be in the will of God and using the ministry gifts to glorify God. Berkely D. James asserts that, human beings are influenced by two critical components nature and grace. The influence of nature is seen in people‘s intellect, temperament, and gifts. The influence of grace is seen in the touch of God harnessing and enhancing these natural factors so that people are readied for focused service8.
God calls leaders to do ministry, He gives them a special anointing that empowers them to excel in their service. Jesus was anointed to do the work of the Father. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are pressed, to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord”. Anointing does not come by personal achievement; it is a gift from God for individuals who do the will of God. Christian leaders should be humble under this anointing and watch God the Holy Spirit perform miracles. Humility is essential in the lives of leaders as human beings who represent Jesus Christ and acknowledge the limitations of acquired knowledge. A leader should abide through prayer, reading of the Bible and walking in the Spirit. By learning to trust in God more, the leader should guard against sinning and always ask the question: —Have I come to terms with its reality?9
4. The personality of the Christian leader
Many authors have written in depth about personality characteristics which make for an effective leader. However there is no agreement to a single type of personality which can be designated ‘leadership material'. There is some suggestion that have included intelligence, integrity, selfassurance and individuality, but even these are not essential. The fact remains that a person may be a leader in one situation and not in another.
Douglas McGregor wrote in his examination of the nature of leadership: ‘is not a property of the individual, but a complex relationship among these variables'. It is this that makes its study so rewarding, and enables a far greater number of people to take some leadership role than is often imagined. Berkely D. James, asserts that human beings are influenced by two important components, nature and grace. The influence of nature is seen in people‘s intellect, temperament, and gifts. The influence of grace is seen in the touch of God harnessing and enhancing these natural factors so that people are readied for focused service10.
Effective leadership depends on the right person being in the right place at the right time; it is both personal and contextual. A leader emerges from within a certain set of circumstances at a particular time. The selection and placing of the right person in the right place is an important part of the overall leadership of a church and much time and prayer should precede such decision. It is not surprising the Christ spent the night in prayer before choosing the twelve disciples. But leadership is not only a matter of personality and context. First, Christian leadership is a charism of the Holy Spirit and we need to examine its nature. Secondly leadership need to be trained.
5. Charismatic Leadership
A German sociologist, Max Weber introduced in his work a term Charismatic leadership. He described certain leaders as having exceptional qualities that enabled them to motivate followers to achieve outstanding performance. Charisma is a Greek word meaning “gift bestowed by the gods.” As an adaptation of a theological concept, Weber’s model was an explanation for what sometimes happens in complex organizations, especially in times of crisis, when a leader was granted a special gift of extraordinariness by colleagues and subordinates instead of paternal or divine authority that was general expected in that era. Charismatic leaders are generally spurred to action by ideology and vision, or by crisis. Many times they are strong willed people, motivated, excited by new possibilities and have energy. They usually take on hero status with their followers, employees, and sometimes nations.
Charisma is the work of the Holy Spirit in Church leadership. The Anointing of the Holy Spirit is the prerequisite for those who wants to lead. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit who propels and bestows on leaders the gift of leading and serving. The power and the presence of the Holy Spirit in a leaders will enable them to accomplish mighty things. Acts 1. 8 shows what happens when a leader is filled by the Holy Spirit, lead with power and God led vision and grace, preach the word that bring salvation by Jesus Christ only and excels in everything as led by the power of God
Charismatic leaders have weakness which may include failure to delegate, unpredictability, and freedom from inner conflicts that most leaders have with hard decisions, and insensitivity to others can cause failure with this leadership style. Although no universally accepted set of behaviours and traits defines charismatic leadership, Church leaders must settle their view on the spiritual gift of leadership, and how that fits with their view of the apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor-teacher gifts. If leadership is primarily a spiritual gift, then finding the person/people with this gift and determining through church how they will exercise it is the key task. People who are unable to build solid, lasting relationships will soon discover that they are unable to sustain long, effective leadership11. One’s comprehensive view of how spiritual gifts work in the church should be consistently applied to leadership along with other spiritual gifts.
As a leader, the pastor should know his position in a church and never try to be like someone else or he will always be second best12. Robert House's “four phrases” describe a certain style of church leader—dominant, influential, self-confident, strong sense of moral values. This is likely only one type of church leader, not necessarily the best type. It certainly represents the style of leadership most promoted by the church growth movement and most mega-church leaders. Just using the term charismatic does not make a style essentially Christian. Yet, through history, many of the most effective church leaders have had this style.
Can a person develop a charismatic style of leadership or are you born with it (or gifted with it at conversion)? Even if this style is preferable in some circles, an un-charismatic personality can still become an effective leader. This style of leadership seems to emerge especially in times of crisis. It appears an uncharismatic person can become a charismatic leader as a situation may demand it. All styles of leadership have their dangers, but charismatic leadership seems to have more.
The Bible (Ezekiel 34 verses 2 - 5) show us the consequent dangers of the hero status—often accorded a charismatic leader. “Scripture speaks to other potential dangers, including over-controlling, making followers dependant, being narcissistic and/or self-centered, over confidence in self, and insensitivity to others. The Prophet shows how the leaders ruled harshly and brutally, scattering the flock of God. Could it be that charismatic leadership styles are both most effective and most dangerous to the church leader?
The terms “Charisma” and “Charismatic leadership” are often seen as religious terms. They are, but they are not limited to religious or church leadership. However, seeing charisma as a “gift from God” is certainly relevant to the church, for leadership is often seen as a spiritual gift in the church. That is, many Christians see God bestowing a gift of leadership on certain Christians. In this instance, leadership is not so much a position (like pastor or elder) but a gift God has given to a certain individual. With this “spiritual gifts” approach to leadership, one assumes a pastor would have such a gift, but the crunch for many church leaders comes when there are several people in a church—ministerial and lay—claiming this gift.
Some implications of charismatic leadership theory for church leadership: Church leaders must settle their view on the spiritual gift of leadership, and how that fits with their view of the apostle, prophet, evangelist and pastor-teacher gifts. If leadership is primarily a spiritual gift, then finding the person/people with this gift and determining through church polity how they will exercise it is the key task. One's comprehensive view of how spiritual gifts work in the church should be consistently applied to leadership along with other spiritual gifts. D.T. Niles described the leader as being caught up in a ‘momentum apart from himself’ and many leaders will identify the feeling of being out of control of their own ministry and being swept along in the purpose of God. The leader must share the heart and mind of God, identify with his will, and look at the world with his eyes. If we do not have this width of vision we shall become petty and parochial and pernickety. And this vision comes from God. Like the Old Testament priest the leader's sole is to stand as a bridge between God and the people - praying for the people to God and explaining the ways of God to the people.
The training of leaders
Many of the African Christian Church leaders have had no formal ministry or had a little training in ministry. In actual fact education or formal training was not encouraged in some cases. As a result many church leaders led the church because of passion to serve or to fill the gap, while others were nominated through election processes and others began to lead the church out of the need of leadership. It is for this reason the church could not attract vibrant exciting young leaders. Whether leaders are born that way or emerge from a particular situation, their leadership potential can be increased. There are certain fields where training is particularly important: Knowledge of self. Leaders have to be aware of themselves as people and know what effect their actions have on others. Paul's injunction to ‘think of yourself with sober judgement' is particularly important for those whose decisions affect many. Although they may have their limitations, personal questionnaires have their uses when done with the help of another person who knows us well.
Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to expand his knowledge. He said “study to show himself approved to God”. Leaders have to keep a flexibility of mind and approach to new problems. Intellectual muscles need exercising. This may mean reading the latest books and theological periodicals, but in experience this area is one of great guilt for most ministers: they would like to read the scholarly volumes but find that their library is full of books with makers which never go beyond page 40. Reading may be important, but still more important is to think rigorously and theologically though the practical situations and problems which the everyday life of any church will present. The probing mind will always be seeking reasons for people’s actions and better ways in which they can be helped. It will be seeking the will of God and following it, taking the vision and turning it into reality. Research done in many black churches found that two-thirds of the people had left school, did not finish their high school education for one reason to the other. This made the leaders reflect on the sort of training material the groups were being asked to cope with and subsequently to alter the whole learning programme into something more appropriate.
When personal leadership is combined with the call to ministry one realizes that Christ demonstrated leadership. To be effective in leadership the leader should benchmark his style of leadership with that of Jesus Christ. Jesus chose, developed, and equipped followers who turned into leaders. The disciples went on and became successful in ministry because Jesus pushed His followers forward without waiting for them to demand responsibility, position or office. Because leadership is an acquired skill, there is a need for people who are well developed in leadership to help the pastor in the everyday duties of the church. The people mentioned should be trained into formidable teams and be empowered to do the work of the ministry. The Great Shepherd has called all people to serve as under shepherds13.
There is a common feeling that action-directed thinking is in some way inferior to academic learning, but it can be just as demanding and may be a good deal more use. The Church leader need to constantly reflect on his leadership his interaction with people and the general development of his ministry. The danger of unreflective leadership is that there is no careful deliberation about anything, and the church just responds unthinkingly to events as they occur. The result is a ministry which is purely reactive and never proactive, pushed and pulled by every pressure.
A leader needs wide experience and the ability to profit from it. They need a breadth of experience of different churches and denominations, and the widest legitimate knowledge of life. There is some evidence from industry that several moves in the early part of a person’s career leads to a deeper experiences than if he or she has been confined to only one branch. Many companies deliberately move personnel for this among other reason.
It cannot be over emphasised that education or formal training will help the church leader to be a better a person and leader, to think, to plan to, perform his duties well and also to understand that Ministry work evolves rapidly , particularly in this times where technology seems to be ruling. Therefore a leaders has to be equipped, knowledgeable and experiences A leadership is a skill and a church leader has to know about more about leadership, particularly around his subject matter, the bible. It may sound obvious, for after all, a doctor needs to know about medicine, and a lawyer about law. A leader should abide through prayer, reading of the Bible and walking in the Spirit. By learning to trust in God more, the leader should guard against sinning and always ask the question: Have I come to terms with its reality?14 However there has been a great reluctance among those called to lead to learn the skills of their craft. This is as true in industry and the professions as in the life of the church, but much work has been done on management in recent years, and Christian leaders should not be too proud to learn from it. After all we use the knowledge of the psychologists in our counselling of people and the design of the architect in building a church extension. The challenges with many African Church leaders have not yet seen the advantage of this skill. It is the call and anointing of God that separates a church leader from other leaders and has to show the abilities as empower of God The way in which such training can be acquired depends upon what needs to be learnt. Self-awareness can come about from days spent in prayer and discussion with a Christian friend or spiritual director. Leadership skills can be learnt from books and courses. Wider experiences can come through a wisely used sabbatical, or a deliberate attempt to widen one's viewpoint. One church has taken this seriously and insists on the minister taking a whole Sunday off every two months in order to visit other churches and see how others worship: they say he comes back with freshness and new ideas, and they enjoy the visiting minister or taking the services themselves.
The work of Christian leaders
What a manager does in a business is not necessary what a Christian leader should be about. The work of a Christian leader is to lead the people of God to the direction and the place where God want them to go. Christ specifically warned about taking our leadership patterns from the outside world: ‘Those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them... not so with you.' The biblical pattern of leadership is complex but can be seen as being grouped around four Lords: Servant; Shepherd; Steward; and an overseer . Each word serves as a focus for a galaxy of other biblical ideas and titles, and they are not independent of each other. There is considerable overlap between hem and it is impossible to fit each idea precisely into place. They can be seen as four interlocking circles. Each word lies on a continuum stretching from care for each person to concern for the corporate whole.
As we shall see some of the hardest decisions in Christian leadership come from the tension between the various roles. For example a member of the congregation may be doing a job very badly. For the good of the whole Body of Christ it is best for that person to be removed from that work, but as minister you know that it will cause great pain. The Overseer says the member must go, while the servant/shepherd says that he or she must stay and the other members of the congregation learn a lesson in forbearance. Such decisions can tear the heart of any leader.
a. A Leader as a Servant
The towering verses in Mark 10:43-45 are part of the mental furniture of every Christian leader: Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. But while this is a great truth, it is important to recognise that there are more frequent references in the New Testament to the leader as a servant of God than there are to him or her as a servant of people. While a mere totting up o texts is not definitive it indicates that there is a balance which must be kept in mind. Otherwise the minister sees himself, and is seen by the congregation, as being at the beck and call of everyone's demands, and tries to fulfil the expectations of all. That way lays a subjugation of leadership to the democratic wishes of the people, or the tyranny of every manipulator in the congregation. Christ's primary task was to ‘do his Father's work'; only secondarily was he a servant of the people. There are a variety of ‘servant' words, each of which shows us something of this role of the minister.
Jesus Christ himself exemplifies both: he rules with power “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph.1:21), but he also stoops down to wash the feet of his disciples (John 13). We can see this same example of power combined with servanthood in the role of parenting. In their relationship with children, parents have authority that includes right and power; good parents also love their children with a servant love, and use their authority through this love. Authority, power, and servant love, all properly understood, are not set over against each other in the New Testament—and thus should not be set over against each other in discussions of leadership (Matt. 20:25-28).
The New Testament emphasis upon servant leadership reminds leaders to be careful in their exercise of power and authority. Leaders must realize the ways that positions of leadership can inherently create an imbalance of power, and must take seriously their responsibility to exercise power as servants of the one who has all power and authority.
In John 13:14 Jesus makes it clear that those who follow Jesus must practice his servant love: “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.” In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul calls believers to imitate God in his self-giving actions: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Leadership in Christ's church must be different from the Gentiles' “lording it over” approach to leadership. The goal of servant leaders is to love and serve those they lead by helping them find and productively use their gifts in the ministry of the body. Leadership in the church is essentially and radically a matter of servanthood, love, forgiveness, redemption, sacrifice, justice, and obedience. The principle for leadership selection is that the leader should consider the giftedness of emerging leaders; spiritually, emotionally, and personally14
b. Church Leader as a Shepherd
One of the greatest roles of a Christian leader is to be a shepherd. The New American Standard Bible defines Shepherd as “a caretaker or tender of sheep and goals15. They are trained to be the pastors who care, guide and counsel. One would note that the image of shepherd as leader would have been perfect, given that many of the “Israelites were sheep farmers and knew exactly what the job of a shepherd entailed16. It is the traditional word of the Christian minister, and it is the one which is most expected by others. It has deep roots. To understand the nature of leader as shepherd, scholars have asserted that shepherd metaphorically represents “God the Father, Jesus and the leaders of a congregation who help the flock to feed on the Word of God and protect them from false teachers and unsound doctrine. The Pastor as a shepherd never fail, in rain or thunder, in sickness or distress, will tend, visit, and shepherd his flock with staff in his hand.
One could argue that the metaphorical use of shepherd throughout scripture points to the leadership style required by God of those he places in positions of authority. Therefore, as a shepherd one presumes an authority over those being shepherded. If one were to refer back to the NASB definition, one could argue that shepherd leadership includes organizational goals. The pastor's responsibility is ‘to feed and provide for the Lord's family; to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever', has a well-understood and honoured role in history. The need for pastoral care is even greater in the modern world. The increase in divorce and unemployment, the turbulent place of change and changing political attitudes, all leave their wake an increasing and demanding army of the ‘walking wounded', those who cannot cope and who have emotional and personal needs which cannot be met within normal medical services and family context. Indeed the Christian church should be a haven for such folk, for a church should be a place of love. The church will be a lighthouse beckoning such people to the love of Christ expressed in the people of God.
Indeed I find that a good indicator of the reality love in a congregation is the proportion of such people in the congregation. If everyone is competent, well-adjusted, pleasant and undemanding, it suggests there is little love, or the ‘walking wounded' would have been more in evidence, for every social group has many. It is likely that the national position is not going to change, except for the worse. To take only one example; it has been found that the children of divorced parents are three times more likely to be divorced themselves: what will the next generation be like?
Throughout scripture, there are many examples of God giving authority for a specific purpose. In reading scripture, one could argue that one would need authority to become a shepherd over those in which they would lead. For example, starting in Exodus 3:1 we find Moses who was “pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God17. From this scripture, one will note the authority given Moses by his father-in-law over the flock. To parallel this idea of authority, one can look to the later dialogue between God and Moses in Exodus 3:10 in which God says, “Come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring my people, the sons of Israel out of Egypt.”
Moses already obtained the needed skills to lead the Israelites out of Egypt through his upbringing in Pharaohs palace as well as his experience shepherding the flock of sheep belonging to Jethro. Further, 2 Samuel 5:2 illustrates the authority given Moses to shepherd as leader by stating, “And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will be a ruler over Israel The idea that Jesus show of the shepherd leaving the 99 in the wilderness and going in search of the individual ‘until he finds it', is so powerful that we tend to think that the duty of the shepherd is primarily to look after the individual: this is reinforced by the individualism of much western thinking. But the overwhelming balance of the whole Bible is to see the shepherd as being particularly concerned with the corporate, the flock rather than the individual sheep. Comparatively, Matthew 9:36 states, “Seeing the people, He [Jesus] felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd18. The scriptures capture the idea of leading, serving and providing a covering of safety for those whom God gave responsibility over. In many Old Testament passages the ‘shepherd’ is the king of the nation who cared for the whole. In the New Testament, apart from the parable of the lost sheep, every other passage speaks of the shepherd looking after the flock; and in many the prevailing idea is of the shepherd sacrificing himself to carry out the task: The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
The concept of shepherd leadership, one notes the need to serve others. Shepherding appears on the surface to be in conflict with the worldview definition of leadership. To understand shepherding leadership one must understand and define servant leadership. A servant leader is that of a leader who “seeks to serve, and that this serving is a natural component of the leader. Ezekiel illustrated this notion through the idea of taking care of the flock, strengthening them and protecting them. One can look to Isaiah 40:11, which states that, “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”19
Jesus charges his leaders “ be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood... savage wolves will come among you”. (Acts 20:27) Be shepherds of God’s flocks that is under your care... eager to serve... being examples to the flocks (1Pet. 5:2) It is seen as a high calling that demands much Christian leaders are to “ pastor those who are most in need’. But this can too soon become a matter of giving most pastoral care to those who demand it most frequently and most insistently.
1 New American Standard Bible (2000).
2 John W. Gardner, On Leadership.
3 Means, James E.1989: p60. Leadership in Christian Ministry. Grand Rapids
4 Hemphill JK, Coons AE 1957: p7, Development of the leader behaviour description questionnaire. In RM Stogdill and AE Coons (Eds),Leader behavior; Its description and measurement.
5 Suber. C, 2010, Philosophy of Christian Leadership; the Influence of Vision — The Supremacy of Influence
6 Washington Gladden et al., The Christian Pastor And Working Church (New York, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,1911), 176.
7 Berkely D James, Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Books), 2007, 20
8 Ibid., 4
9 Ibid., 9
10 Berkely D James, Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Books), 2007, 20
11 Maxwell, John C , et al. Developing The Leader Within You, (Nashville,Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 1993),
12 Galloway, 20/20 Vision, 90.
13 Berkely D James, Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Books), 2007, 4.
14 Richard W. Clinton presents six characteristics for potential leaders: Appetite for the Word of God; Orientation toward applying the Word of God; Orientation toward righteousness; Orientation toward prayer; Orientation toward healing from God; and A selfstarting orientation (1996:34-36).
15 New American Standard Bible (2000). Holy Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
16 Van Vuuren, Gerrit (2010), “The Leadership Style of Jesus Christ Part 2.” Retrieved September 19, 2010 from http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/The-Leadership-Style-Of-Jesus-Christ-part-2-/1503509
17 New American Standard Bible (2000). Holy Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
- Quote paper
- Thabo S. Putu (Author), 2020, The Development of Church Leaders in South Africa. An Analysis of Christian Leadership, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/924289