All preachers and ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ are chosen for some position or place of authority in the Body of Christ. We all have callings and gifts given to us by the Lord and He expects us to use these callings and gifts to build up the church as we do the work of the ministry individually. By walking in God's will and not our own, He places each one of us individually according to how He wants the Body of Christ to be ministered to. Our specific places of leadership are used by the Lord to train us and build us up to be the ministers God has called us to be. We are uniquely being shaped for our main purpose and position in the Body of Christ. Once we are there, God moves us into our assignments and gives us the people and places for his purpose in us. We cannot allow the privilege we have in Christ to become positions of power and opportunity for our own personal gain.
Just before Jesus was going to enter Jerusalem for the last week of his life, Salome, the wife of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons, James and John and asked him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and the other on the left, in your kingdom" (Matthew 20:20-21). Her question caused the other ten disciples to be displeased with James and John and possibly envious for the same opportunity. His answer was surely not what anyone was expecting.
But Jesus called them to himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave. . .just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." [Matthew 20:25-28 NKJV]
If a person wants to be in leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ they must become a servant. This is the opposite of what the world has always shown. All we have ever known about leaders where they demanded to have charge over everything and when they gave orders it was to be carried out with fear of failure. Kings, governors, statesmen, magistrates, soldiers, and priests required subjection and obedience to the authority each one stood for. In his answer Jesus said, ". . .it shall not be so among you. . ." (verse 26). Though it was what leaders did, this was not what Jesus wants the leaders of His church to do. Jesus, by example, shows us a leader is a true servant to the people they are given authority over.
Ever since the Apostle Paul wrote the words of Romans 13:1-7, it has been taught that every kingdom, government, or place of authority over people and lands has been appointed by God. We have been taught that they are God's ministers in their specific purpose of authority (verse 4) and we are subject to follow their leadership, whether good or bad. The same is true with the leaders of the Church. We are taught to be loyal to our church leadership and to follow their guidance. It is also understood that we remain loyal to them because we are trusting them to follow the leadership of God and the Holy Spirit as they lead and govern us. This is why Paul said to "follow him as he follows Christ" (1Corinthians 11:1). For these reasons people have always desired to be "in charge" and have a position in the cultures they live in, especially in the Church.
Jesus wants disciples to understand, though these human desires for authority exist in the world, among the disciples of Jesus Christ, this is not to be so. If you desire to be a person with authority in the Church of Jesus Christ you must first become a servant to those you desire authority over. He said all authority had been given to him (Matthew 28:18) and when He could have made everyone subject to his words and his power, he chose to come in the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). When Jesus could have commanded legions of angels he chose to serve and have no reputation.
The first thing leaders need to learn is:
All true leaders serve their people and do not lord over them.
Jesus did not lord over his disciples and the church he was building, but he served them. He washed their dirty feet, he healed their sick bodies, he taught their weak souls, and he provided for them with his blood.
For a human being to subdue themselves is not normal. People have always lived by the concept that the strongest will survive. To follow Jesus' command and be a servant when you can take over has to come from something more than the human will. Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to explain how Jesus was able to come in all of his power and authority, yet desire to be a bondservant to the weakness of humans. Paul said, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). Jesus came with a mindset to serve His Heavenly Father and be a servant to mankind. What made it possible that He was able to do this is stated in verse 8, ". . .He humbled himself and became obedient. . ."
Humility is the door to becoming a good leader. The example Jesus gave us shows that having a humble heart will allow a person to be obedient to the Heavenly Father, and have the mindset to be a servant to the people. Humility takes the emphasis off of the position and places it on the obedience to carry out the need. Jesus did not have his mind on the power and authority but the love he had for his Father and those he came to serve.
A good leader will first become a good follower.
Jesus was an obedient follower of his father, even unto death on the cruel cross (Philippians 2:8). Understand Jesus' obedience to dying in one of the worse ways a human could, was for our benefit though he was doing what God sent him to do. Jesus was a good follower of his father, who kept the emphasis on the ones he came to serve. If a person is a terrible follower, not doing the things required from those who are in authority over them, they will be a terrible leader, usually making demands that they themselves would never do. The opposite of humility is pride, and a prideful person does not care about those whom they lead. Their emphasis is off of leadership and on personal gain. Leaders must become good followers before they are able to lead in humility later.
Places of authority are given to people by the favor of the Lord. The door for that favor is humility. 1Peter 5:5-6
. . .Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. . .
As ministers and preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must become humble by taking the emphasis off of us and placing it on the people we serve; then God will exalt us to the position He desires for us according to His good pleasure. This has to be our desire and mindset, or we will choose to walk in human concepts, making demands over people instead of serving people.
Too often people in the ministry want to lord over their churches and the believers, making people think they are important because of their positions. In the parable of the unfaithful servant (Matthew 18:21-35), there is another lesson being taught besides forgiveness. When the servant of his master received mercy for his debt and was forgiven of it, that servant did not extend the same mercy to those who served him. Instead, he lorded over his servant and treated him with cruelty and wickedness. At times ministers try to do the same things by making demands over the people that they themselves would not lift a finger to do. Jesus said this about the spiritual leaders of his day in (Matthew 23:1-12). We must be careful as ministers to take the emphasis off of us and place it on those God has given us the privilege to serve.
The next thing that is important for leaders to understand is with their authority and position much is required by the Lord. As Jesus was teaching the disciples about being a faithful servant he shared the parable of the servant (Luke 12:35-48). He ended the teaching by pointing out ". . .For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him, they will ask the more" (verse 48).
I have been asked many times through the years, "Why is it so few people are given much while everyone else has so little? It seems as though very few ever gain much in life, why is that?"
The answer to this is very simple, "To whom much is given much is required."
Could it be so few will really do what is necessary to gain much?
Could it be so few will work beyond the normal or simple?
Could it be so many only want to do just enough to get by?
Only a very few will do what it takes for much!
Only a few will endure beyond a "little"!
Only a few are willing to press through!
God's favor will never be placed upon the lazy and or unbelieving. This is the lesson being stressed in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27. The servant that was lazy and not believing the Lord was returning, had everything taken from him and given to the one who had the most. What is being taught here is God will bless with great favor those who are great in faithfulness to press through.
There is a level one can reach in their relationship with God where He gives you everything you need, and even some of the things you want; but be careful, for this place in Christ is not an easy place to be. Because the Lord has brought you where you are, developed you, raised you up to walk on this level, He requires you to understand it is not acceptable for you to slip-up or do anything wrong. He gives you much but in return, he requires much from you. Not many come to this level of relationship because not many are willing to walk this narrow road of being responsible to the Lord. This is why there are so few examples in the Bible of faithful people because most will not do what the Lord is wanting to be done. Usually, God's purpose and will take years of development and patience to reach as He filters out the human aspects, building one up to be the spiritual tool He wants them to be.
Everyone wants to be the leader of the band, but not everyone is willing to do what is necessary to become a band leader!
Young ministers see a seasoned pastor living in an upper-class home, driving a nice car, and living with plenty of money and they desire to have a ministry like this seasoned pastor. The problem is, they only see the rewards for walking with the Lord for many years and they have no idea what that person went through to get there. They can't see the emotional and physical battles scars of this pastor, but they do see he is eloquent in his teaching, honorable in his leadership skills, and everyone loves this man. The person Jesus spoke of in the parable of the talents who was given that which was taken from the unfaithful servant, was the one that was doing the work. This person was the one who pressed through all the hard things and did the work the way the master wanted it done. They did not give up and they did not back down. The unfaithful servant did what he thought was the simple and easiest thing because he worked in fear that he would be punished if he failed. That unfaithful servant had the same mindset of everyone else that has ever been lazy and did not understand the relationship his master wanted to have with him.
Ministers want much but too often they are not willing to work through the hard things to get to the good things. All things take great amounts of time, patience, and effort to do the work right. Only those who will persevere will come to the other side and enjoy what the Lord has for them. This is why Jesus went on to say about the faithful servant in Matthew 25:21, His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."
How to be a Good and Faithful Leader in Ministry
The famous NFL football coach, Vince Lombardi said,
"Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."
Because human beings have to learn the good traits of leadership before they can be a good leader, it is necessary that they are exposed to good concepts that generate good leadership. Practice makes perfect but bad practice makes imperfection. If all you are ever exposed to is bad examples you will be a bad leader. Something must take place to show you what is good. Paul said in Galatians 6:10, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Though you may have been treated badly by people you have been under, change this pattern by doing good to all who you are subject to your leadership. You have been exposed to Christ, be a good leader.
A good leader in ministry is not just someone who is in charge as the boss to tell people what to do.
A good leader in ministry is:
A person with great confidence in who they are in the Body of Christ. They seek God for who they are in Christ and they are learning their purpose. Their relationship with God has developed through the Bible, hearing the voice of the Lord (John 10:27), and spending intimate time with Jesus. They learned to talk with the Lord and have fellowship with him in the Spirit.
A person humble enough to understand they still need guidance. At no time in life do we not need guidance from other people and especially from the Lord. Ministers should never become so prideful they reject guidance or instruction. A good leader recognizes the voice of experience and uses its truth and goodness to improve situations and conditions instead of being too proud to admit they need help. The book of Proverbs teaches us there is wisdom in many counselors (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22; 24:6).
A person always learning from those they lead. A wise person will learn from those who follow them, understanding that the simplest of actions can still teach them ways of good leadership. Because a person is under your leadership does not mean they do not have something to offer. Job 32:9 says, "Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice." It is good to hear the lessons that can come from those you lead. Sometimes these speak the loudest.
A person who teaches by example. Good leaders set good standards and projects good attitudes. They dress well so people will take them seriously and they show good sense for the things of God so people can use their examples for making good decisions also. Sloppy, irresponsible choices and bad behavior cause leaders to lose their integrity. If you are always needing someone to correct you, those who are under your leadership will not trust you or believe you need to be their leader. When a leader is setting high standards that generate the character of God as in the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) others want to follow in their influence.
A person who helps others to develop and use their God-given abilities. This type of leader is not jealous of the skills one might have under their leadership. They see the potential in each person and helps them to learn what God has put in them as they do all they can to build up these things in each person. This leader inspires people by listening to the ideas of those they lead and guides them to develop what their visions are. When the individual under them is advanced by the Lord, this leader is the first to rejoice with them over their good fortune.
A person who chooses to work with and alongside those they lead. Instead of giving orders and sitting back, waiting for the work to get done, a good leader will be out there with those doing the work, helping to accomplish their purpose. They do not take credit for the work of others but rewards the good work of each individual, remembering their leadership only works well if they can get people to work well. This leader does not take for granted that the efforts of others makes them look good.
A person who has learned good leadership is guiding not pushing. When you are pushing something you cannot always see well enough to maneuver around the objects that are in the way. When you are guiding something you are in front of it and leading through the obstacles. You have a clear view of what is in front of you and can easily work around the obstacles. Good leaders are in front, guiding those they lead, not trying to push them through to places they cannot see for themselves.
How to set your mind for being a good leader
Always be building what you are passionate about.
Rely upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and power.
Do not be afraid of change, encourage it.
Do not be afraid of making a decision.
Use what God has given you to overcome and bless using your spiritual tools which are: The Gifts of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12:1-10). The Fruity of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Have a vision that is bigger than you.
Analyzes your strengths and weaknesses.
Successful leaders use other's strengths in place of their own weaknesses. Respectful leaders give credit to the strengths of others without being jealous. Humble leaders understand the job will not get done without those they lead. If you are doing a good job it is because you are helping those under you to do good at their jobs.
Keep in your mind to always Be the Blessing, Not the Curse. Don’t be the problem…be the solution.
Anyone can be put in positions of authority and leadership in local churches. Many times there are not enough workers to do what is needed and people who are not ready for positions are asked to do them because there is no one else to turn to. As churches grow the need for good leadership is more necessary. If a pastor will teach their people these basic skills of leadership, the church will have a leadership team with integrity that can follow the will of God as they continue to do the work of the ministry.