Archive for the ‘What is a Godly Leader?’ Category

Aubrey Malphurs, is his book, ‘Planting Growing Churches’ says this: ‘Christian leaders are Godly persons (character) who know where they are going (vision) and have followers (influence)’ (p126)

Having mentioned vision I move on to my final part, ‘influence.’

Influence

A man of Godly character who has some sense of the direction he is going in, will, generally, be influential to those around him. Good leaders inspire people. Good leaders exert a Godly influence on people. Good, Godly leaders attract people. If you are wondering why others can do it and you can’t, then take a long, hard look in the mirror. Jesus was such a leader. Men gave up everything they had to follow Him. There was something intensely attractive about the Lord Jesus Christ, what he had to say and the manner in which he went about it. In John 1:43 he simply instruct Phillip to ‘follow him’ and he does! This wasn’t some ‘heeby jeeby’ mind meld stuff. This was something else. Grown, hardened men following this simple teacher from Nazareth.

I like to observe people and I have plenty to say on this blog. But in a public context I like to keep my head down and observe. At Bible College I was the same. There were plenty of others who lived to tell the lecturer what the Greek for ‘uninspiring’ was. The same at conferences. I keep my own counsel. I hate ‘groups’ where you have to share your findings. I don’t know why. That’s just me. Unless somebody really hacks me off and I have to blurt it out I keep my head down. And in my observations what I find is that those with attractive personalities stand out a mile. They don’t have to try hard to impress. They’re not jumping up and down with their hands in the air shouting: ‘look at me I know stuff and I’m dead charismatic too!’ There’s just something about these types of people. Amongst other things:

1. They tend to know where they’re going in terms of their ministry.

2. They are confident yet not arrogant in their own fields of expertise.

3. They have a particular life experience that intrigues people.

4. They genuinely love Jesus and take an interest in normal people and not just those who they consider to be helpful to their rise ‘up the ladder.’

5. They communicate clearly and passionately.

6. They are team builders.

7. They inspire people in their walk with the Lord.

Maybe some of you can think of some more.

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Aubrey Malphurs, is his book, ‘Planting Growing Churches’ says this: ‘Christian leaders are godly persons (character) who know where they are going (vision) and have followers (influence)’ (p126)

Having discussed the importance of character in part 1 I would like to say a few things about ‘vision.’

Vision

This is a big thing in Christian circles today. Apparently, churches need ‘vision statements’ and individuals need ‘personal vision targets’ in order to progress in the kingdom of God. It all sounds good, exciting and even logical, but I wonder how much of it is biblical. Vision in the scriptures usually had to do with an experience of the Lord or the supernatural and not some sort of concise business plan. There is a lot of talk about ‘vision casting’ in certain circles and I would love to know the biblical foundation for this practice (I am sure somebody is just about to inform me).

I am persuaded that having vision, in the sense of knowing the general direction your ministry is heading, is a good thing, but I am less so by Christians having to label what is often common sense with some sort of super spiritual ‘tagging.’ Why can’t we just call something ‘common sense’ or ‘prayerful direction’ rather than invent these fanciful pseudo-spiritual titles? Now, when we look at some of the major players of the Bible it is true that they received more specific visions. Moses, Abraham, David, Peter & Paul are all clear biblical examples of this. The issue is are these prescriptive or descriptive events? My money is on the latter in terms of immediate context, whilst I would want to maintain that I am not suggesting that God is unable or unwilling to communicate in this way should He see fit (and even then I would caveat this by suggesting that this process is less likely where we have the full and final revelation of scripture in our hands – I digress!) It does beg the question though why there is no mention of it when Paul leaves his instructions to Timothy in how to shepherd well? As we have already noted, his concern is that as a pastor he watches both ‘his doctrine and his life’ and there is not a sniff of ‘knock out a decent vision statement too.’

That being said, one of the keys to pioneering, church planting ministry surely has to be a leader who has a ‘bigger picture’ for the future development of the ministry where others may only see obstacles. It does intrigue me that in Christian circles whenever somebody comes up with an idea the first instinct of many leaders is to think of 20 reasons not to proceed. The UK church is choked with terms such as: ‘Let’s pray about it’ (I don’t like it but this sounds like a spiritual sounding way to kill the idea off) or, ‘It sounds interesting but now is not the right time because we really do need to get the toilets fixed’ (that’s way too scary, let’s stick to something realistic) , or, ‘Let’s hold off for now. If it’s the Lord’s will then it won’t matter if we wait for  a year or so’ ( I want to say “no” right off the bat but I am a bottler and so I will say this to get you off my back and hope you get tired of waiting for us to do something). Incredibly, in the UK , we often label this process ‘wisdom.’ I call it something else entirely. Visionary leadership (in my definition) sees past this and can not only picture something ‘bigger and better’ but, as we shall discuss in part 3, can communicate it to such an extent that people pick up the torch and run with it.

The problem with ‘vision statements’ are that they can be ‘set in stone’ and can often, ironically, kill the creativity, instinct and entrepreneurial spirit they are supposed to encourage, particularly in those people who prefer to work within a well-ordered box. For me at least, vision is a free-flowing, ever-changing thing that must take into consideration the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of a leader and his people. If I am sticking religiously to a set routine and plan, then the danger is that I can miss an opportunity that may present itself. One of my prayers with our team here is: ‘Lord surprise us today and keep up alert to any new direction you would want us to investigate and pursue.’

How do we get people to share the vision? That’s a key area. Some men like to ‘frame’ their vision, think it through, pray over it and then present it to their people. My process is that I like to throw ideas at my Ministry Team in all their unrefined and uncrafted glory. I like to get ‘gut reactions’ and then I like to ‘throw it around the dance floor’ before encouraging people to ‘attack it from all angles.’ We then pray about it quite specifically. Now, if the idea can come out of that process in any kind of shape then it gets a run out to the eldership and we then usually go for it. We tend to work by this process whoever has an idea on the team. I actively encourage creative thinking and I even like to run with ideas that I am pretty confident will fail,  just to give my team a taste of ministry failure but also as a teaching opportunity. If we’re not failing then we’re not really learning. Courses and colleges can teach us a lot but they cannot teach us how to fail ‘on the ground.’ I sometimes wonder if the reason that so many men in our pulpits fail to connect with people in terms of sermon application is because they have been brought up in a sterile and safe church culture with a risk free approach to ministry. They cannot relate to people at ground level because they have such a limited life experience.

Malphurs says a visionary knows where they are going and I sort of agree with him and I sort of don’t. I have a big picture vision of where I would like our church to be in future years. But God doesn’t operate like that. Leaders should be open to changing direction at the drop of a hat, particularly if they want to survive in inner city church planting. My advice is to find leaders you respect. Men of good character and proven track records and learn from them. Don’t try to copy them, but just ‘get all the good stuff’ as I like to say. Learn how they operate and how thy think and what has worked and what has not. In my opinion good vision is more borne more from our failures than our successes.

May God help us serve Him for the glory and honour of His name and His Word.

Aubrey Malphurs, is his book, ‘Planting Growing Churches’ says this: ‘Christian leaders are godly persons (character) who know where they are going (vision) and have followers (influence)’ (p126)

Character

People need to be trustworthy if they are to succeed in ministry. Certainly, there are lots of good actors out there, but sooner or later the heart of a man will come out in the heat of battle, and his true character will rise to the fore. We who are in ministry must be motivated, firstly, by a desire to spread the gospel. Secondly,  we must remember that godly character is developed through a desire to please the Lord and not ourselves. How much of what we do and say is really driven by those two goals? We must constantly check ourselves, for our hearts are deceitfully wicked above all things and so sly that sometimes we can even fool ourselves that our motives are nobler than they really are. If we want to plant and lead churches then we should have a right estimation of ourselves. Listen to the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8:

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young childrenamong you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.’ (NIV)

Look at the battles they faced at Thessalonica. They were treated badly and opposed forcefully. Now, I have no wish to paint a black picture of the ministry but it is fraught with difficulties.  Real courage is required to enter the ministry. But look at Paul response in v2 – ‘we dared to tell you HIS gospel’. They kept on. Here was a man who questioned his motivation constantly as v3 implies. That great responsibility still stands today, does it not? The greatest danger for young men entering this gig today is the need to be liked. To be constantly seeking approval for every decision they make. But Paul is clear in v4 that we need to be God pleasers for it is he who will ultimately test our hearts. So, on the one hand we are looking for men who have a pair but, on the other, that there is a flavour of gentleness to their character as well in v7.

What does this mean for us? We need leaders who are godly, strong, courageous, full of conviction, aware of their limitations, constantly checking their hearts, God pleasers and gentle, loving shepherds of their people. Our responsibility is not to get despondent about how far from this we feel we are but, instead, make a resolute committment to turn back to the cross and continually throw ourselves on the grace of God. We must not forget to feed our own souls and tend to our own hearts in the business of this life. Seek good and godly accountability where possible. A godly leader isn’t a person who has ‘arrived’ and has ‘all the answers’ but is a growing, disciple of the Lord Jesus and is constantly seeking to honour Him and promote the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the face of opposition and ambivalence. God help us.