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What do we expect of our leaders?

God's ways are not our ways.

People like their leaders to be like King Saul–head and shoulders above everyone else. They like them to be charismatic, outgoing, well qualified. To have university degrees, communicate persuasively, lead convincingly.  Leaders are to be out front, envisioning and inspiring, with larger-than-life personalities.

Taller sunflower

In the church at large, we are no different. We place pastors on a pedestal. Our pastors are expected to have seminary degrees, to have no personal problems and perfectly behaved children. They receive God's vision for their church. They are expected to deliver inspiring sermons, to personally look after their flock, to attract new people to the church.

Small wonder they are burned out and many are leaving the ministry. We've applied the world's standards to an impossible task.

God never intended it to be that way.


13 replies on “What do we expect of our leaders?”

the church is quickly following after the world – just like in the days of old -‘give us a king that will rule over us!’ – the church have been ‘conformed to the patterns of this world.’
with all due respect to the church the way they defined ‘godly’ ‘leaders’ and quote scriptures to back it we’re not ‘leadership’ verses at all, but servant-hood. Example, i bump into one statement that define leaders as ‘humble,’ well, honestly and purely if the person is humble then he is a ‘servant.’ It seems like the NT sees a ‘leader’ as a title and a servant an ‘attitude?’
If the church only gives its focus on ‘serving God and serving one another’ – we should not have wasted our time ‘redefining it.’ Why redefine ‘leadership?’ Because we want to be like the world – have leaders yet just a little different than the. Well, why not ‘turn the other way around? Let them worry about ‘leaders’ and let’s worry about ‘servants.’
Can’t imagine or understand – we ‘serve God’ yet we ‘lead our brother?’ Other say, we ‘serve by leading’ – what a clever statement, a trick in itself.
i see ONE leader in His Church. many sees MANY leaders, no wonder there are 40,000 denominations around the globe, it has it’s own ‘founders’ ‘chairmans’ ‘directors’ etc – which are titles outside Scripture – borrowed titles from the world – ‘patterns of this world.’
am so scared for my next generation if this ‘patterns’ continue in the body of Christ. so pity…

I just heard at a workshop yesterday that this is the idea of leadership in the West. The Eastern concept of leadership is more of a “lead-from-behind” than lead-from-the-front” mentality. I wonder if there is something to that.

I expect the same thing from leaders that I expect from everyone else: living their lives in demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The people that I follow (imitate, learn from, whatever) – that is, leaders – I do not follow because they have been chosen or recognized or appointed, but because they are consistently obedient to Jesus Christ and they are a good example of living in him through the Spirit.

The Lord drew me to Him when I was in college and the group we were with then– a network of home fellowships, btw — believed in leaders being raised up from the congregation. When a person was installed as an elder/leader, they used the term “recognized.” I think that’s a good term to use because it means the person was already leading as a servant in the body and people respected him as such. The congregation was merely recognizing that God was already using that person as a leader. He was not installed as a leader based on speaking ability, organizational skills or charisma or potential or education, but on the work he was already doing and the impact God was having through him. “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” — 1 Timothy 3:1. The emphasis is on the work/task. Not on the person or the office. The work is being a servant, which also equates to being a leader/shepherd. Cliche of the day — A shepherd leads sheep. You drive cattle.

I think that Ross wrote a good article on the subject on Neil Cole once said that leaders are just the ones who get there first then turn around and realize others were following them. I think that’s a lot of truth. I also think that both of the men I mentioned just now are good examples of what simple church “leaders” should look like.

Church leadership is all upside down right now and has been for nearly all of the Church’s history. Most are quick to blame Constantine but honestly God’s people have been quick to dismiss God’s leadership since the Garden of Eden. We want something tangible and more like us to call the shots.
I wrote an article awhile back on this topic using some thought provoking insights from Peter Rollins
My question is whether or not there is hope for reform within the institutional leadership system or should we leave it the way it is, seeing it for WHAT it is, and strive to manifest a more God centered alternative that will hopefully draw attention the current system and it’s inherent failures?

Craig, very useful article. Thanks.
You pose a great question. Can a church change or do you need to create an alternative? We faced that in the UK with the charismatic move, where eventually most churches reverted to type, although a few were changed dramatically.
There’s a great quote that I use a lot by Austrian philosopher, Ivan Illich who was once asked what the best way was to transform society, revolution or reformation. His answer was that neither of these would ultimately transform society, rather, you have to tell a compelling story.
Of course, this doesn’t allow for the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s the usual answer: listen to Jesus and do what He says!

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