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Principles of Christian Leadership
John Maxwell describes leadership as being
“influence, nothing more, nothing less”. In some ways this is true.
However, I believe there is more to Christian leadership. Christian
leaders are people who are moved at God’s pace and in God’s time to
God’s place. Christian Leadership is about taking a central role in
taking people further into God’s plans and purposes and encouraging
others into a deeper relationship and understanding of God.
Over the years I have read a number of leadership books and seen
some of these principles in practice. Some have been good and some not
so good. In this article I want share the five of the most important
things I believe Christian leaders should do and be, to be the most
successful leaders they can be.
1. Christian leaders need to cultivate an intimate relationship with God
The first and most important thing Christian leaders need to do is
develop and strong and intimate relationship with God. In an article by
Gordon MacDonald he says, “the forming of the soul that it might be a
dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader”.
Developing this intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and
reflective Bible study is vital if Christian leaders are going to be all
they can be in God.
We see that Jesus modelled this drawing away to a solitary place to
connect with His heavenly Father in prayer. In Mark 1:35 we see that He
did this alone and in Mark 6:35 he called the disciples to draw away
from the pressing crowds. As Christian leaders we need to follow Jesus
example to make sure we come aside from the business of life and
ministry to make our connection with the Father. As we do, we find that
our relationship with God grows and we allow Him to speak to us. We can
also learn from Scripture and receive guidance on how He wants us to
lead the people we are overseeing. I believe this time alone with God is
vital for our growth, seeking direction and for our long term survival
of the pressures of ministry brings.
2. Christian leaders need to have a servant heart
The second thing Christian leaders need to have is a servant heart.
In 1 Peter 4:10 the Bible says that “Each one should use whatever gift
he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in
its various forms”. At the heart of this verse is being called to serve
and we are to use what God has given us for the benefit of others.
In Matthew chapter 20 we see the disciples we having a discussion on
who was the greatest amongst them. Jesus enters the conversation in
verses 26 and 27 and says, “…Whoever wants to be a leader among you must
be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become
your slave”. In this short statement Jesus turned their views of
leadership and greatness completely upside down. The Gentile rulers of
the day lorded their power and authority over the people and treated
them harshly. Jesus told His followers they need to live different and
that greatness comes not from being served, but by being a servant to
3. Christian leaders need to be shepherds of God’s people
I believe as Christian leaders one of our prime objectives should be
to love and care for people under our ministry. The Bible says in 1
Peter 5:2 that Christian leaders should, “Care for the flock that God
has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly - not for
what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God”.
This verse tells those in leadership to watch over those in their care
like a shepherd watches over his flock.
In John chapter 10 Jesus talks about the role a shepherd plays in
caring for his sheep. He says that they provide food, water and
protection and if one strays the shepherd goes out to look for the lost
sheep and brings it back to pasture. As a result of this care and
protection the sheep trust and listen to the shepherd’s voice. Our
heartbeat as Christian leaders should be to provide love, care and a
safe place where people can grow in their faith and service to God.
4. Christian leaders need to live with character and integrity
One of the keys to successful long Christian leadership is the
desire to live with character and integrity. In 1 Timothy 3:8-12 and
Titus 1:5-9 it lists 24 characteristics that should be seen in Christian
leadership. Some of these include being of good behaviour, not greedy
for money, not given to excessive drinking, not quick tempered, but
being self controlled, a responsible steward, one that holds fast to the
Word of God and has a good reputation outside the church. It tells us
that these qualities should be evident in the lives of those who are
called to Christian leadership. In saying this though, it does not say
that one has to be perfect to be in Christian leadership. That is not
possible as we are all human and fall short at times. However, it is
saying that these things must be evident most of the time.
I firmly believe that as Christian leaders we need to have this same
commitment to living with character and integrity
the Bible talks about. We need to have a good testimony both
in and outside the church and before God and man. Billy Graham put it
perfectly when he said “If I were ever to do anything dishonouring to
Christ, I would rather He take me home to heaven before I did it”.
5. Christian leaders need to be committed to making disciples
The last words of Christ before returning to heaven are recorded in
Matthew chapter 28:19-20. It says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of
all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands
I have given you”. This verse is a clear command to reach people with
the love and saving message of Jesus and to teach them how to follow
Jesus and His teachings.
As Christian leaders I believe the core of what we do is to love
God, love people and to make disciples. We need to focus our energies on
loving and bringing people into the Kingdom and teaching them how to
continue to grow in their faith and service of God. The early church
understood this and as a result many thousands of people came to faith
in a short time. In Acts chapter 2:42 we see that, “All the believers
devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to
sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer”. In
committing themselves to these things, the early church members were
able to grow to maturity and be sent out in their community to reach
others for Christ.
In this article I have shared the things that I believe are vital
for those in Christian leadership. I believe that the foundation of
Christian leadership is the forming an intimate relationship with God by
regular prayer and disciplined Bible study. As we do these things we
will grow and change and are able to
start to see the world through God’s eyes. This then allows
us to move out into the world with a servant heart and the attitude of a
shepherd to love and care for those entrusted to us. As we do these
things we need to live with an attitude of integrity and humility before
God, while resolutely playing our part in fulfilling the Great
By Dave Quinn
Founder of PASSION Australia
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