As a young pastor, I wanted to change the world, change the church, and change people’s lives. I am now late in my ministry, and have come to realize that I cannot change the world, the church, or people. God is the only one who can change and transform all things. As shepherds of the flock, our calling is not to change the world, but to lead the flock. Thus, how are we called to lead?
God has called us to become leaders worth following, as we continue to be transformed by the power of His Holy Spirit. Great leaders are remembered more for who they are, than for the tasks that they accomplished. This does not mean that we should not work hard, seek to be effective, or plan successful strategies. We should seek to honor our Lord in all that we do. But, within our ministry, who we are will last much longer than what we do.
In ministry, leadership is crucial. Great vision and plans serve little purpose, if no one follows us on the journey. General William Tecumseh Sherman once said, “There is a soul to an army as well as to the individual man, and no general can accomplish the full work of an army unless he commands the soul of his men, as well as their bodies and legs.” General Sherman realized that a great leader inspires others to give their lives with passionate service to a cause greater than themselves.
Here is what I have learned in my years of seeking to be a leader for God:
- Effective leaders must possess inward integrity and character.
- Effective leaders recognize their authority is God-given and it should not be arrogantly abused.
- Effective leaders need honest self-awareness.
- Effective leaders need to be able to motivate and ignite passion in others.
- Effective leaders need to be people of focused vision.
- Effective leaders need to be able to make right decisions at the right time.
- Effective leaders demonstrate the courage to act.
- Effective leaders develop strong teams and share leadership with others.
- Effective leaders communicate the mission.
- Effective leaders lead by Christ-centered example.
- Effective leaders enable others to serve effectively.
- Effective leaders teach that learning and competence matter.
- Effective leaders respect and recognize the value of others.
- Effective leaders learn from past mistakes and make adjustments as needed.
- Effective leaders develop skills to work with those who are difficult.
- Effective leaders inspire community and move others to be in one accord.
- Effective leaders lead with grace.
- Effective leaders reflect a humility of spirit.
- Effective leaders continue to grow in wisdom and understanding.
- Effective leaders seek to be a positive witness for Christ in all that they do.
“Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will: not for money but eagerly: not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3)