Leading the Church

What is Leadership?

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
A basic description of leadership is the duty and call of the person who is in charge to take charge with courage and character, and to risk leading his/her people where they need to go and how they need to be led. It is a position that seeks vision, opportunities, and needs and then motivates others to get it done through the resources, talents, and time they can contribute.
 
Leadership is not a science and cannot be thoroughly defined, because it is more of an art and is dependent on people and situations. However, there are key characteristics that we can define. It does not happen just as a gift or a talent; if a person has a natural ability, he or she still must learn what it is and means. Additionally, a person who has no natural ability can still rise to the occasion as so many in history have.

A basic description of leadership is the duty and call of the person who is in charge to take charge with courage and character, and to risk leading his/her people where they need to go and how they need to be led. It is a position that seeks vision, opportunities, and needs and then motivates others to get it done through the resources, talents, and time they can contribute. It points toward a reliable and trustworthy pathfinder to the road that others can follow by example and instruction. It is the ability to initiate, empower, equip, and train, but it does not stop there, because a good leader also prepares his/her people by his/her example as he/she guides, inspires, supports, influences, and positively challenges the team for the mission or task at hand. It will be obvious that the person is meant to be there if they accomplish this by enhancing the quality of the mission's direction by mature control of the individuals and/or the organization as a whole. It is not about personality or charisma; it is more about being a positive and motivating "coach" who loves what he/she does so that people feel cared for and inspired to step up and move forward for mutual benefit and positive goals and outcomes.

What is the condition of your church?

Does Jesus control your church? Or, do you or others think you do?

What characterizes leadership in the church? It follows pretty much the same concepts as those stated above with the addition of being godly, faithful, and Fruitful for our Lord's glory. The best example is found in John, chapter ten, where Jesus is called our "Good Shepherd" (See the Bible study on this passage at www.intothyword.org/ in John 10:1-21 and John 10:22-42 www.intothyword.org/pages.asp?pageid=83385 and preach on it!). The Christian Leader is a Shepherd, the person whose job it was to guard and care for the sheep-in this case, indicating God's people. Just as the actual sheepherder who owned the sheep had a vested interest in them and would do all it took to protect them, as his family's livelihood depended on them, God anoints such leaders for His people. In contrast, a hired person had no vested interest and as soon as danger would come, they would scram (Gen. 31:39; Num. 27:15-23; 1 Sam. 17:34-37; 2 Sam. 5:2; Psalm 78:71-72; Isa. 63:11; Jer. 3:15; Ezek. 34:1-24; John 10:1-21).

The question is, are you a sheep under His care or one that is out on the lamb (pun intended), on the run?

Although the comparison is not meant to be condescending, nor are we ever to be arrogant, we are called sheep because they are notoriously stupid animals and need a good, caring leader. They can't survive on their own; they show us that without God, we are just like them. They are totally dependent upon their caregiver, the shepherd. A sheep that gets out and lives on its own will starve or eat poisonous plants because it will not go where the gppd food is. It will hurt itself by rubbing itself to death on a tree or falling down and breaking its leg or falling off a cliff. Sheep need constant care and attention and the sheep that skips out on that care will die. As shepherds, we are the ones who are to graciously shield those for whom we are responsible, even laying our life on the line against predators and rustlers, which today indicate false teachers and egomaniac leaders.(Psalm 77:20; 78:52; 100:3).

Why do we have a responsibility to be watchful and aware of people who would fleece and hurt the people in our churches? How can we do this better?

We shepherd others through our relationship with Jesus Christ. We have life, joyful abundance, the personal favor of God and real fellowship with Him, a purpose and meaning for our daily lives, and eternal life to come. For us to be in the safety of His sheepfold, the "pen" for our faith, we not only need to be in Christ, but we also have to obey Him. This will be the result of our intimate relationship with Him. We know Him; He knows us, and we do what He says. We follow His example as we lead others for and to Him. We are concerned with what concerns Him, and we act accordingly. Like sheep, we cannot lead ourselves or others without being forever lost and unfed. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep (1 Sam. 17:34-36; John 2:19; 3: 1-16; 6:51).

Jesus gathers us together as a church to be with one another for mutual support and protection. How can you be more careful not to follow bad shepherds and those who would hurt you?

A true Christian leader who is called by God will always point others to Christ and His fold, not to themselves, because, it is God's power that leads┬żnot the ways or trends of the world. We will have the desire to learn, develop, and implement the skills of good leadership and gladly take the risk in doing so. The essential framework and prime purposes in building a healthy church are to glorify Christ, to worship and enjoy Him, and not to please our comforts or ideas. We are to shine before Him by knowing Him, by holding His truth, and by growing in Him so we can make Him known in a dark world!

Are you and your church known for your negatives or positives? If so, what will you accomplish, or what will be your focus?

The Church is the body of believers whose duty it is to shine the Light of our Lord as a witness for Him. His character is the Light we follow and proclaim. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the object of and reason for our gathering and functioning. It is all about Him, not about us as leaders; we merely point to Him! This is how God's Glory descended into the Tabernacle of old and today into our churches. Our purpose now is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Christ is the pattern we follow and emulate and the future for our lives. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God, and Christianity is the true practice of Judaism (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 1:9-20; 2:9; 3:9).

What does it mean to you to shine before God? How does holding His truth help you shine and make Him known in a dark world? How is your light shining before others?

Here are some more questions to seek in prayer: As a leader, how do you connect, inspire and equip? How would others characterize you as such? What do you need to learn and overcome to be better for our Lord's glory? Keep in mind that we all need renovation and renewal; I know I do!

Our Light is Christ and we are called to display Him in our lives and in our Church! How can you do this better? Jesus is proclaimed in the New Testament as the Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church. This is not a theory; rather, it is the reality of how we must connect with Him before we contact others and help them connect to Him.

Why would having no hope cause you and your church to have no vision and purpose, or to have doubts about the One who loves?

As you shepherd, you properly lead, making a connection for God's people so they can have hope and endurance through the sharing of his sufferings and experiences and so they will know He is still with them in spirit and in understanding. John was not living the good life while his people were being persecuted; he was in the frontlines of it all. He was a leader who led by example by going first in line to the destination to which he was leading others. After he had set the tone, he told them of his incredible vision of Christ and His call to the leadership of the Seven Churches. Jesus spoke to him in vivid imagery, commanding him to write it all down so it could be shared and used to further the Kingdom.

Why is it important that when we run our churches, we do so with God's power and precepts leading us and not our personal ways or trends?

The purpose of a Christian leader, pastor/minister, deacon, elder, shepherd, or whatever you call yourself is to get your church lined up to God and His Way and precepts! In addition, you are to facilitate yourself, your team, and the people with the development of faith, spiritual maturity, character, and Fruit so everyone is ready for His use and glory. We have a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. We are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress. This theme is prominent in Revelation (Rev. 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7, 11, 14).

What are your thoughts now on what should be the essential framework to build your church into a healthier church?

What is the image of Christ to you? How is His image proclaimed and demonstrated in your church? How can you use this information so you can have a better, healthier concept of who God is? How will this translate into your daily life? Remember; your duty is to reverence Him (Job 37:5-6; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2; Dan. 10:6).

When you lead, you are to display God's splendor in the best means and words possible so that Christ is shown as the Supreme Head over the Church. He controls the Church. Does He control yours? Or, do you think you do (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9)?

Why does a Christian have the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others in growth with time, love, and patience? What would be some excuses for not doing it? How would Christ receive these excuses?

The purpose and intent of your church is to worship, and to instruct, model for, and excite others about the promises of our Lord Christ and challenge them to grow in faith and maturity by the perseverance of faith in Him. As a leader, you shepherd them in these paths. We are to long for Christ as LORD, but not only that; we are to know Him and seek Him so we will grow in Him with praise, prayer, study, and fellowship. If not, what are we doing? And if we negate our duty, we may be the ones on the outside of His love and care-both now and for eternity.

In what ways do some Christian leaders present their own version(s) of lordship, to the exclusion of Christ? How do we see Jesus-as lord, or Lord, or LORD?

Jesus invites us to partake of Him and His incredible wonders now and forever more! He wants us to be focused on Him and not to stray so we can be better used for His glory. If we do stray, His arms are open throughout our prodigal wanderings-arms which we do not deserve, yet they are there, nonetheless. He calls us to repent and proclaim Him. He continually exhorts us to maintain righteousness, and to upright leading and management of His Church by His Way and His methods. We do this by first managing our own spiritual formation, and then we can lead others toward spirituality in Christ. A leader cannot lead where he or she has not been, just as a church cannot grow when its leaders are not growing. Here is Christ-beckoning, warning, and even pleading for us to get it right and then do it right-both our lives and His Church in Him.

How can you and your church realize a depth of gratitude for what Christ has done so you can see the lost as opportunities and recognize the call to reach them?

The call is to know and be prepared by faith, to grow in our spiritual maturity, to develop godly character, and to be infused by the Spirit and His resulting Fruit. By so doing, we lead others by way of where we have been. Simply put, it is for this reason that Christ built His Church-that we might partake in the building of His Kingdom with the bricks of our faith, each one interlocking with another. How are your bricks being formed and baked? Never forget that your purpose is to inform with confidence and conviction, with clarity, and in truth that faith and loyalty to Christ matter. We have a hope and we can be assured He has a plan and will love and care for us into and throughout eternity.

How could you present an argument to your leadership that discipleship is paramount for the church?

It is all about our loving God-longing for Him even in times of waiting and confusion, in times of stress, and in times of joy. We must place Christ first and foremost in all things, both personally and then collectively as we lead a body of believers.

Why would dedication to unity rather than strife and envy benefit your church?

When we get caught up with the sensations of trends, pride, and speculation, we miss the grand point of it all and become the fool of Proverbs' fame! It is as if we were at a football game arguing over whether we should have hamburgers or hotdogs and never realizing that there is a game going on. God has a plan; He will carry it out. He uses us to do it, but He desires us to be "in play" in the game, to be in Christ, in life, and in church, to love Him and be His lead example to inform others of His love-and to be faithful through thick and thin! This is about your church being in the presence, glory, and holiness of God so that obstacles can and will be overcome. In Him, we are over comers! At the same time, God is communicating His purpose for us. Are we relaying it to those in our care? From the beginning of creation until He comes back, God has sought loyalty and Fruit and the resulting growth of our faith, character, and maturity. As leaders or pastors, we must be the shepherds under His care to lead His flock-and to never fleece His flock!

Why is envy one of the most destructive forces on earth? How can it bring down leaders as well as ministries?

Christ is "the God of Truth." Did you know that when we say "amen," it means "so be it," and "most assuredly?" We are proclaiming affirmation of His Truth and ways. The call is to keep His Word open, studied, taught, and applied as in the Fruit of Righteousness that is expected of all Christians. God's Word conveys His will; it is His authority, and it is sacred. Therefore, it is not to be altered or manipulated by our will! God's Word contains His instructions to and His covenant with us; it is most holy and binding. When one seeks to manipulate or distort it, it is more than a slap in the face of God; it is a heinous evil. False teachers and those who use God's Word for their own personal gain insult Christ and deceive others, and they will be profoundly judged. So, be a good shepherd and do all you can with due diligence for His glory (Deut. 29:20-27; Prov. 30:5-6; Isa. 65:16; Amos 6:12; Matt. 5:20-48; John 15:5; 21: 24; Rom. 1:7; 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20; 5:10; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; 2:10; Phil. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:10; 2 Thess. 1:3; Heb 12:11; James 1:22-25; 3:18; Rev. 3:14)!

What are the patterns that you and your church take in serving others?

Christ wants us to love Him, not what is wicked and not what will only destroy us!

Remember; your church that you lead is like The Temple of God that represented God's presence on Earth and hope for His people. This is not where He lives, as He is omnipresent and thus cannot be confined; rather, it is His representative and a place where God's chosen people can go for worship. Christ is now our Temple; His love fills us and infuses us collectively together. We are in God's home; there is no need for a building, but if we have one, let us use it wisely. We, the people of God, are the Church as we are His temple (Zech. 14:21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 10:11; Rev. 4:1-5:14; 21:9-27).

How can your church better function collectively, with all of its individual personalities, in unified vision and purpose to glorify God?

The real issue at stake is this: do you, as a leader, reflect His glory and holiness or do you stay in the night and darkness of personal will and misguided trends? Be the light bearer; be His shepherd! This is what our Lord and Savior, who has created heaven for us, asks us to be!
 

© 2010 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

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