For Christians in Leadership Positions
The Distinctives of Christian Maturity and Leadership
Before actually considering the qualities that should characterize mature Christian and Christian leadership, it would be well to consider its uniqueness.
It is hoped that in doing so it will focus us on the supernatural element involved and how Christian maturity and leadership is to find its source in a personal relationship with the living Christ through the Holy Spirit and in the light of the special revelation of God, the Holy Bible. The following is a summary of six distinctives.11
(1) Christian maturity and leadership is distinct because of the nature of a leader’s position as a servant, as opposed to the viewpoint of the secular world. Christ spoke emphatically of this on a couple of occasions (see Luke 22:24-27; Mark 10:35-45).
Further, regardless of one’s position in the home or the church, the biblical principle is that there is only one who is “number one,” and that is Christ Himself. It is He who is to be preeminent in the life of the church (cf. John 13:13; Col. 1:18 with 3 John 9-11).
Submission to Christ’s authority and leadership is one of the hallmarks of leadership.
(2) Christian maturity and leadership is distinct because of the nature of its character requirements.
While the secular and corporate world may speak of the need of moral character, it will lack certain qualities of character that are strictly Christian in nature submission to the Lordship of Christ, complete trust in the tenets of Scripture, and those characteristics listed in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:7-9.
(3) Christian maturity and leadership is distinctive as to its source. In Scripture, the special ability to be a Christian leader is explicitly declared to be the product of the gift of the Spirit.
While all Christians have a responsibility to lead in certain capacities—as parents, Sunday teachers, and as members of society—the Holy Spirit, the giver of spiritual gifts (1 Cor.
12:7), gives a special gift of leadership as described in Romans 12:6-8.
12:6 And we have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith.
12:7 If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; 12:8 if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness. (emphasis mine).
Leadership is a gift sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit, as with all spiritual gifts, at the point of salvation when a person is joined to the body of Christ by the baptizing work of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12-13). This gifting of the Spirit equips each believer for service in the body. For some, this involves the gift of leadership.Human beings can neither choose their gifts, take credit for their gifts, nor assume that their gifts make them superior people.
“Gifts are shared out among Christians; all do not receive the same gifts but all the gifts come from the Spirit, so that there is no room for rivalry, discontent, or a feeling of superiority.
”12 The fact that the Holy Spirit is the source of leadership capacity and that leaders are chosen sovereignly by Him produces freedom from pride and arrogance among those who are responsive to Him.
The gift of leadership is not a matter of a certain personality type.
Peter was a leader by virtue of personal strength (Acts 4:8–12), James by virtue of practical wisdom (Acts 15:12–21), Paul by virtue of intellectual capacity (as seen in his sermons and epistles), Timothy by virtue of sacrificial service (Phil 2:19–21), and John by virtue of his heart for God and man (as seen in his writings).
All these leaders shared all these virtues, but each of them had a distinct personality strength that uniquely marked him. This demonstrates the fact that leadership is not a matter of human personality but of divine sovereignty. Just as the Spirit’s gifts are not reserved for a few outstanding people13 so the Spirit’s gift of leadership is not reserved for a particular kind of personality.
The gift of leadership is discovered and developed in the same way as other spiritual gifts, that is, through life experience, training, and the maturing process. Even though it is the product of the Spirit’s presence and God’s grace, this gift requires diligence, faithfulness, hard work, and commitment if it is to be exercised effectively.14
(4) Christian maturity and leadership is distinct as to its enablement.
The Christian character required to be a godly leader, biblically speaking, has its source in a personal abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. It is to be the product of a Word-filled, Spirit-filled (controlled) life (Col.
3:16; Eph. 5:18) that results in the Christ-exchanged life. Writing to those who were seeking sanctification by law or legalism, Paul wrote,
2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 2:21 I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:20-21).
Leadership requires great wisdom and strength and endurance, but the Christian leader can always count on the presence and provision of the Spirit of God along with the abiding presence of the Savior.
Christians who possess this gift may exercise it in secular settings such as business, politics, or education, but non-Christian leaders in those areas cannot claim the Spirit’s power. This truth is one of the most unique elements in Christian leadership.
Christian leaders have many things in common with non-Christian leaders: both must provide vision for their followers; both must earn the trust of their followers; both must communicate to their followers; both must use their abilities effectively in providing leadership.15 But only Christian leaders can count on the Holy Spirit to accomplish their purpose of affecting and changing others in the spiritual realm.
The Spirit’s power will not make their leadership perfect,16 but it will guide them in a model of growing Christian maturity as well as enable them to have a spiritual impact that cannot be had in any other way or by any other kind of leader.17
(5) Christian maturity and leadership is distinctive as to its ambition and motivation. An ambition is a strong desire to accomplish something or reach a specific goal. The difference between a worldly or godly ambition is the nature of the ambition (fame, power, prestige, position, effective service, God’s glory, etc.
) and the motives behind the ambition. In 1 Timothy 3:1, the apostle wrote, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine ( kalos, “beautiful, useful, noble, praise worthy, advantageous, etc.) work he desires ( epithumeo, “set one’s heart on, long for, desire”) to do” (emphasis mine).
This aspiration (ambition) to be an elder, a position of leadership and responsibility in the church, is a desire for a fine, noble, or godly work. But the apostle defined this as a “fine work.” This takes the focus off the idea of position and places it on the function or responsibility that goes with the job.
But as noble as it may be, if one’s motives are wrong (i.e., for prestige, to build up a sagging ego, for power and control over others rather than sacrificial servanthood, etc.), then the ambition becomes tainted and wrong.
For a classic illustration of a good ambition that became tainted by selfish motives, compare Mark 10:35-45 and Luke 22:24-30.
Nothing could be uglier than the attitudes found here. But nothing could be more surprising than Christ’s response to these attitudes; He did not attack them for being ambitious, nor did He reject them for having drive and desire.
Instead He redefined ambition and turned it into service for others without taking away any of its drive for achievement. Ambition is transformed into a humility directed toward serving others rather than a proud serving of self.
Ambition is redefined from self-service to self-sacrifice (Mark 10:43–45), and included in this is instruction in how to be first. It is accomplished through the holy ambition of slavery in accord with the model of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.He demonstrated ambition at its best as the One who willingly sacrificed Himself for the sake of others.18
Selfish motives (for dominance, personal agendas, control, praise, prestige), that do not truly spring from Spirit-produced love, lead to some of the most destructive behaviors in the body of Christ. Thus, a true mark of maturity that is needed in Christian leaders is purity of motives as is modeled for us in the life and ministry of Paul and his associates (see 1 Thess. 2:1ff).
(6) Christian maturity and leadership is distinctive as to its authority. A Christian leader’s authority comes from Christ, but in his responsibility as a leader, he is a servant in a two-fold way. (a) He is a servant of Christ and operates under the authority and leadership of Christ.
Christ is the head of the church, the Chief Shepherd, and the One who is always to be preeminent and in charge. Christian leaders have no authority in themselves. (b) The Christian leader is to function as a servant to those he leads.
This is beautifully expressed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:5 “For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves [ doulos, “bond servants”] for Jesus’ sake.”
In the context of the nature of Christian maturity and the distinctiveness of Christian leadership, certain qualities have been briefly touched on the leader as a model, the source of enablement, and the servant concept. Now a more detailed discussion will follow concerning the marks of spiritual maturity which are naturally also the marks or characteristics of Christian leadership.
11 For a full treatment of each of these disctinctives, see the article by William D. Lawrence in Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 144:575, July 1987, pp. 318f. Lawrence lists seven, but I have combined two of these because they are related so closely to each other. Also, where his focus is just on Christian leadership, I have included the concept of maturity in these distinctives.
12 Lawrence, quoting Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Leaders (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 5.
13 Lawrence, taken from Leon Morris, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958, p. 170.14 William D. Lawrence, Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 144:575, July 1987, pp. 320-321.
15 Lawrence, for a secular discussion of these elements see Bennis and Nanus, Leaders, pp. 19–86; for such thinking from a Christian perspective see Fred Smith, Learning to Lead (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1986), pp. 32–44.
16 Lawrence, taken from Sanders, Paul the Leader, p. 41.
17 Lawrence, pp. 321-322.
18 Lawrence, pp. 323-24.
Appendix: Discussion Questions for Marks of Maturity
MEN 7/52 is a men's ministry of bible.org. Our desire is to see all men become true followers of Jesus Christ 7 days a week/52 weeks a year.
These studies were developed in a team training environment where men were being trained for their role as church leaders, as fathers, and as effective members of a society that desperately needs to see what authentic, biblical Christianity looks .
So, exactly what does a mature Christian look ? A mature Christian is a believer whose life begins to take on the character of Christ-ness.
But what exactly is that? What are the specific qualities that mark out a person as Christ-? This is the focus and point of this study.
The qualities that should characterize Christian leaders are also the marks of spiritual maturity as described in the Bible.
While all of the qualities that will be discussed in this series are not unique to Christianity and are often promoted and taught in the secular world, many of them are, by their very nature, distinctive to the Bible or biblical Christianity.Thus, the characteristics that should mark out a Christian leader are also the marks of biblical maturity which are in essence the product of true spirituality.
In fact, biblical spirituality can be described by the term maturity since Christian maturity is the result of growth produced by the ministry of the Spirit in the light of the Word over time. It is this biblical/spiritual element, at least in part, that makes the marks of Christian leadership distinctively Christian.
Introduction (pg. 1 – 3)
1. What three elements are necessary to achieve spiritual maturity?
2. What was one of Paul’s primary personal goals?
3. How is the goal of evangelism described?
4. What are the five agents God uses for growth?
5. Describe the three defining marks of maturity.
6. In Philippians 3:12-16, Paul describes his constant pursuit of growth toward spiritual perfection. Please describe your pursuit of growth toward spiritual perfection and share with the group your successes and failures.
The Nature of Maturity as the Product of Spirituality (pg. 4 – 5)
1. List the four factors involved in biblical spirituality and describe them in your own words.
2. Which of these factors is strongest in your spiritual growth? Which is weakest?
3. How has each of these factors impacted your spirituality growth?
1. List the six distinctives of Christian maturity and leadership and describe them in your own words.
2. Describe how your motivation and ambition impacts your role as a leader in your family, church, and community. What are some of the changes you need to make in your heart? Please share with the group.
Women in Leadership Positions
A total of 299 women have served as U.S. representatives or senators since 1917, when Jeannette Rankin of Montana was elected as the first woman to serve in Congress.
And this month, a record 104 women were sworn in as members of the 114th Congress.
Yet, while the share of women serving in Congress has risen steadily for more than two decades, women remain heavily outnumbered in both the House and the Senate.
Women have also made inroads into the top leadership positions in corporate America, but the progress has been much slower in that realm. Today, women make up 5% of CEOs in the nation’s Fortune 500 companies and 17% of the corporate board members among Fortune 500 companies.
This section presents statistics and trends on women in a variety of leadership roles. It also includes data on women’s educational attainment, labor force participation and representation in various professional fields.
The results of the 2014 midterm election marked an important milestone in the history of the U.S. Congress. For the first time, more than 100 women will be serving in Congress: 20 in the Senate (20% of all senators) and a record 84 women in the House of Representatives (19% of all House members).
The number of women serving in Congress has increased significantly since the early 1990s, when there were two female senators and 25 female representatives in the 101st Congress (1989-1991).
A large majority of the women serving in Congress today are members of the Democratic Party. In the 114th Congress, 70% of female senators and 74% of female representatives are Democrats. However, this hasn’t always been the case.
The number of Republican and Democratic women in Congress (the House and Senate combined) was near parity in the 1990s (for example, 12 Republicans and 15 Democrats in 1989).
However, since 1991, the number of female members of Congress who are Democrats has increased at a faster pace than the number who are Republicans. Currently, 28 of the women in Congress are Republicans and 76 are Democrats.
Women also make up a growing share of state-level elected officials. The share of state legislators who are women has risen from 4.5% in 1971 to 24.2% in 2015. The number of female governors has also increased, although not at a steady rate. Today five women are serving as governors. This is down from a peak of nine in 2007 and 2004.
As of 2015, a total of 36 women (21 Democrats and 15 Republicans) have served as governors in 27 states. In addition, one woman has served as governor in Puerto Rico.
Compared with their representation in the political realm, women have made only modest progress in gaining top leadership positions in the business world. Today, 26 women are serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (5.2%). The share serving as CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies is virtually the same (5.4%).
Even though the corporate world is still mainly a man’s world, women have made inroads in this area slowly over time. Just 20 years ago, there were no female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Women are slightly better represented in the corporate boardrooms than they are at the CEO level. As of 2013, about one-in-six (16.9%) board members for Fortune 500 companies were women, up from 9.6% in 1995.
Women in the Labor Force
Today a majority of American women are in the labor force. In 1965, 39% of women ages 16 and older were in the labor force. That share rose steadily and peaked at 60% in 1999. As of November 2014, 57% of women were in the labor force, only 12 percentage points lower than the share for men (69%). Women account for about half of the U.S. labor force (47% in November 2014).
And women have made strides in terms of positioning themselves to move into the leadership pipeline. They are increasingly taking jobs in managerial positions. In 2013, over half of managerial and professional occupations (52.
2%) were held by women, up from 30.6% in 1968. Even so, women continue to lag far behind men in senior management positions. According to a survey of top leaders from mid-market businesses throughout the U.S.
, only 22% of senior managers in 2014 were women.Women have also made significant progress in traditionally male-dominated professional fields. Today, about one-in-three (34%) professionals in the legal field are women, and so are one-in-five partners in private law firms. Women also make up about a quarter of U.S. federal (24%) and state (27%) court judges. In addition, women account for 30% of the physician workforce in the country.
Women continue to lag far behind men in the STEM industries of science, technology, engineering and math. As of 2010, they made up 13% of employed engineers. Among undergraduates who were enrolled in engineering programs in 2011, 18.6% were women.
At the same time, young women are more ly than young men to graduate from college nowadays. Since the 1990s, women have outnumbered men in both college enrollment and college completion rates, reversing a trend that lasted through the 1960s and ’70s. By 2013, 37% of women ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of men in the same age range.
Women are also more ly to continue their education after college: 12% of women ages 25 to 34 in 2013 had a master’s, doctorate or professional degree, compared with 8% of men in the same age group. In 2012, women earned 60% of all master’s degrees (up from 46% in 1977) and 51% of all doctorates (up from 21% in 1977). In 2013 women earned 36% of MBAs (Master of Business Administration).
Despite all the progress women have made in educational settings and the workplace, a gender wage gap persists. In 2012, the median hourly earnings for female workers 16 and older were 84% of men’s earnings.
The gap is much smaller among young workers ages 25 to 34; women in this age group made about 93% of what men in this age group made.
In 1980, the median hourly earnings for young women were 67% as much as young men were paid; and earnings of all employed women were 64% as much as all employed men received.
10 Leadership Styles. Which one to choose?
Leadership styles are evident in both professional and personal environments.
Most people have a leadership style they have developed as part of their personality, frequently in response to various life experiences.
For example, someone in the military in a position of leadership may have an autocratic style. Another person with a strong religious background may have a servant leadership style.
Sometimes an organization requires a particular leadership style. One can either find an organization in need of their natural leadership style, or modify their style to fit the needs of the organization.
The option providing the most opportunity is learning how to adapt one’s leadership style to the environment in which they must lead. Knowing the characteristics of each leadership style is important so that you can identify your own leadership style as well as those of others, and develop the characteristics of a leadership style required at a particular time and place.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each leadership style. In this article, we will help you identify which leadership style you currently possess and the characteristic of other leadership styles.
Additionally, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each. We have not included all of the possible leadership styles, but those you are most ly to encounter and may wish to use yourself.
Delegating (Laissez-Faire) Leadership
The delegating leadership style, also known as laissez-faire, works well with trained, highly experienced employees who require minimal supervision. This type of leader provides very little guidance to those reporting to them.
Delegating tasks makes it possible for a leader to have more time for others tasks they may deem more important.
With the right group, delegating can challenge a follower and build their self-esteem, as they realize the delegator trusts their skills and abilities. Frequently, delegating brings forth innovative ideas.Delegating also provides an opportunity for growth as employees tackle and succeed at harder and more important delegated tasks.
Those reporting to a delegating leader may not be productive. Additionally, they may find it difficult to work without supervision and experience stress from not knowing their leaders expectations. Those reporting to delegating leaders sometimes are not productive and refuse to accept personal responsibility.
Authoritarian (Autocratic) Leadership
The authoritative or autocratic leader provides clear expectations and focuses on commanding and controlling. The authoritarian leader makes decisions alone without input from others.
They often have total authority, telling others what to do.
This style of leadership works best when there is a need for strict guidance for a group of individuals, due to lack of experience or a new direction for a company or group.
The authoritarian leadership style works well with those who require close supervision and need direction. Usually characterized by rules, regulations, and standards, the authoritarian leadership style works well when work must be completed quickly. Additionally, it works best when the authoritarian leader has more knowledge than his followers do.
Authoritarian leadership does not work well when those being led have equivalent or more knowledge than the individual leading. It does not promote creativity and many employees do not this method of leadership. Sometimes people have trouble functioning, even becoming hostile, when they report to an authoritarian leader.
Participative (Democratic) Leadership
The participative or democratic style presents a balance between the autocratic (controlling) and the delegating (laissez- faire) leadership styles and works well in organizations desiring innovation. Many believe this leadership style is the most effective.
Although this leadership style seeks input from team members (employees), the participative leader makes the final decisions. It is, however, important, that the leader and followers feel positive about the goals and the outcome of a plan or decision.
Additionally, the leader needs to be able to illicit fresh ideas from others.
One reason democratic leadership is considered by many to be the most effective leadership style is because of its many advantages.
- Morale is boosted through contributions to the decision-making process.
- Since it causes people to feel as if their opinions matter, self-esteem is boosted.
- Changes are accepted easily as employees are involved in the change process.
- Contributions tend to be of high quality.
- Engagement increases motivation and creativity.
- When team members perceive their contributions are important, commitment to goals is fostered.
The participative leadership style is not the best choice when decisions must be made quickly or when those being led are not prepared and informed enough to assist the leader.
The transformational leader focuses on the big picture and large organizational goals and delegates smaller tasks to the team.
Employees are motivated and productivity enhanced with the leader assuming high visibility and providing excellent communication. A transformational leader is usually energetic and intelligent, committed to the organization and its goals.
Along with the participatory (democratic) leadership, this is another leadership style many believe is very effective.
One of the key characteristics of his style of leadership is the ability to motivate and inspire followers. Additionally, these leaders direct positive changes in groups. The result is higher performance and employee satisfaction.
The transformational leader acts with an orientation towards service and usually has a foundation of positive values such as honesty, trust, and fairness.
Thus, it is the follower that benefits the most from this type of leadership, not the leader.
Sometimes transformational leaders develop an “anything goes” attitude in order to achieve organizational goals. The transformational leader must avoid long hours and unreasonable deadlines, or employees will lose the inspiration to work.
Seeing the desired result of transformational leadership takes time, so this leadership style is not appropriate when organizations seek quick results.
Transactional leadership provides monetary rewards for success and punishments for failure. The leader sets predetermined goals with input from team members.
The transactional leader reviews results and provides training to assist team members who fail to meet team goals.
This style of leadership often is combined with another style, as many employers have regular performance evaluations as part of their organizational structure with salary increase dependent upon successful completion of work goals.
Transactional leadership creates clearly designed job descriptions and roles. Employees know what they must do and what the advantages are for completing predetermined goals. Leaders offer a great deal of direction, which gives employees a sense of security. Frequently, team members perform well in order to receive promised rewards.
Very large bureaucratic businesses and organizations choose this method to maintain the status quo. Unfortunately, the transactional style does not encourage creativity.
Coaching leaders have the desire to provide career guidance and help those who report to them reach their personal and professional goals.
To do so, they provide constant feedback on performance, delegate, and challenge their direct reports. Frequently, leaders resist using the coaching style as it takes more time than other leadership styles.
Therefore, it is the leadership style least used in the workplace, which is unfortunate as it provides many advantages.
As mentioned previously, coaching leadership takes time. However, the investment made in employees provides the following advantages:
- Improves overall results
- Creates a positive work environment
- Employees know expectations and are able to meet them
The coaching style of leadership takes more time than other styles, and some people lack the personality to coach effectively.
The visionary leader inspires others to contribute to his or her vision. A strong visionary leader moves his followers towards a shared vision of the future with the belief that the vision can come true. The commitment of the both the leader and his followers provides direction and success.
Visionary leadership often combines with another leadership style. Many great leaders throughout history have used the visionary style, i.e. Alexander the Great and Martin Luther King.
Visionary leaders must understand what is happening both socially and economically, not only in their industry, but also nationally and globally. They must also be able to communicate their vision effectively.
The pacesetting leadership styles works best for short-term goals, as it involves driving participants to initiate goals and achieve results. The pacesetting leader sets high standards not only for themselves, but also for those they are leading. They desire to motivate their followers by example. This leadership style is most effective when quick results are needed.
Pacesetting leaders get their followers moving towards progress quickly. Followers are frequently high-energy, achieving outstanding performance in accomplishing goals. The pacesetter style works best with employee are highly skilled and able to complete tasks in a timely manner.
Pacesetting leaders do not have time to give employees feedback. Additionally, there is no time to teach or mentor someone if they need assistance.
There are a number of identifying characteristics of the servant leader.
- The servant leader serves others by helping them improve and reach their career coals.
- The servant leader is selfless, an admiral trait.
- The servant leader feels responsible for others.
- Servant leadership is characterized by listening with empathy, and a commitment to the growth of their followers.
Due to the characteristics listed above, servant leadership is often seen in those who work for social causes or seek to help those who are disadvantaged.
Servant leadership is seldom seen in the corporate environment, which is a shame since it has many advantages.
- The collaborative nature of servant leadership builds community.
- Servant leaders create environments built upon trust and teamwork, creating feelings of fulfillment.
- Management is personalized, leading to creating cohesiveness in diverse groups.
- Career development is emphasized, along with work-home balance.
- Servant leaders gain respect, thus leading employees to high levels of productivity.
Employees often do not have an opportunity for creative thinking. Additionally, employees must have the same goals as the servant leader for this leadership style to be effective.
Choosing Your Leadership Style
One might question which is best, to determine one’s natural leadership style and use that in a chosen job, or develop the leadership style chosen by the company or pertinent to the situation.
The answer is it depends – on you, your career goals, the company you work for, and the current situation. Generally speaking, great leaders use one of the more effective styles, such as the participative (democratic) leadership or transformational leadership styles.
However, to be effective, a leadership style must meet the conditions, needs, and goals of the organization. Consider the following:
- Delegating (laissez-faire) leadership works well with an established group of individuals with comprehensive training and the knowledge and ability to complete delegated tasks.
- Authoritarian (autocratic) leaders have the ability to take inexperienced workers and effectively direct their work. Thus, this leadership style works best in new companies or work environments.
- Democratic leadership is an effective approach when trying to maintain and strengthen relationships with others, as in a team-based work environment.
- Transformational leadership works well in an environment where change is necessary as when a company takes a new direction or introduces a new product.
- Transactional leadership works well for employees motivated by rewards and punishments. Thus, transactional leading is frequently seen in environments that are extremely goal oriented.
- Coaching leadership works well in small, tightly knit groups with very specific goals.
- Visionary leaders are very effective with the start-up of an organization or the introduction of a new system or product.
- The pacesetting style is very effective for short-term projects.
- The servant leadership style works well for Christian organizations and in the public sector.
Leadership style refers to the characteristic behaviors used when guiding, managing, directing, and/or motivating a group of people. People have different leadership styles.
Additionally, organizations often have a particular leadership style specified for various positions.
It is important to know which leadership style works best in various work environments, so that you can choose the most effective style for a particular situation.Every work style has its advantages and disadvantages. The key is choosing the right leadership style at the right time. Doing so helps one become a great leader and have the resultant success one desires in their personal and professional life.
Last Updated on Apr 12, 2019
Christian Leadership – Three Things Jesus Had to Say About It
Leadership is in vogue, but what would Jesus have to say about Christian leadership today?
In his life, Jesus turned the world upside down and he taught the disciples to live and serve the Kingdom of God in that upside down way. This applied to leadership as much as anything else. He taught and modelled Kingdom leadership to his disciples, and it was radically different to the way of the world.
What is the Leadership Model for Today’s Christian Leaders?
Unfortunately, the development of Christian leaders today tends to focus on the areas of theology, worship, and ethics. Very little is taught about leading people. This is strange if you think about it. After all, is not the church the ecclesia? The assembly of the called out people? Isn’t it people who serve God, working for the Kingdom in various Christian enterprises?
So where do Christians get their leadership teaching and role models?
Alas, in this vacuum the Christian leadership model is so often the World. We learn about the leadership of people from secular teachers and role models in the context of the world of business, commerce and politics. These are not exactly the healthiest and most ethical environments, nor are their leadership gods always the most ethical.
The Impact of Leadership
Leadership is crucial because its style determines organisational culture – “How we do things around here” and so it sets the values and environment that influence behaviour.
Leadership also establishes the vision that sets the direction of an organisation and leads people on the journey to achieve it.
So if, as Christians, we bring the world’s leadership philosophies to bear in a church or Christian organisation, we are actually impoverishing the testimony and witness of the Kingdom by infecting its values, environment, and goals with those of the world.
So what did Jesus have to say about leadership?
Christian Leadership is not to be the World
In Matthew 20, we read of James and John asking to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand. What they were really doing was asking for positions of power and status, being second only to Jesus and over the other disciples.
The rest of the disciples were really upset about what James and John had done. Jesus said to them all, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
It shall not be so among you…”
“It shall not be so among you.” Jesus’ instruction to the disciples then, and therefore to Christian leaders today, was that our leadership is not to be that of the world. As leaders serving the Kingdom of God, we are to be different to leaders in the world in how we lead others.
Christian Leadership is about Servanthood not Position and Status
So often in the world, leadership is seen as being about position, status, and power, and when that happens it is abused. It becomes used for the benefit of the so called leader.
Nothing could be further from the model that Jesus lived and taught. In Matthew 23, Jesus took the Pharisees to task for exactly this kind of behaviour.
They exploited their leadership to gain celebrity and places of honour – the best seats in the house.
Jesus turned this on its head and declared, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” The role of leaders is not to serve themselves but to serve those whom they lead.
This is because their role is to enable the people they lead to fulfil their potential. In the Kingdom, this means to be the people that God calls them to be in their service to him. Leadership in the Kingdom is a position of humility not power and status.
Christian Leadership Requires the Humility of a Servant Heart
As Jesus and the disciples prepared to share the Passover, there was no servant to wash their feet to remove the dirt of their journey and refresh them (John 13).
This would have been a huge social blunder, it would have been embarrassing. It was also beneath the dignity of the disciples to wash each other’s feet. It was beneath them to serve the others in this way.
It was even less appropriate for Jesus, as their master, teacher, and host to do so.Now, Jesus, knew that he was not simply their teacher but the Son of God and that all things in creation had been made through him (John 1). None the less, he chose humility, which the disciples failed to do, and took the place of the servant, one of the lowest rungs in Jewish society.
He washed their feet, then he challenged them. “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you…”
Did they understand what he had done? Did they understand that he, who was the Christ, had humbled himself and become as a servant to them. Did they understand that he was their model and that they also should become humble, serving each other and those whom they would lead in the days to come.
This was not just about foot washing but about an attitude – having a humble, Christ- servant heart. He challenged these men, whom he had been growing into leaders of people, to have such a humble servant heart.
As Christian leaders of people, working for the Kingdom of God, we are not to lead as the world leads.
Rather, in humility, we are to grow a servant heart that puts others before ourselves, and seeks their growth and their benefit before our rank, status, and power. Jesus demonstrated that this is the way of the Kingdom.
His call, then and now, is for leaders in Kingdom service to follow in his way and not infect the Kingdom with the impoverished leadership ways of the world.You can explore this call to a different style of leadership in Growing the Servant Heart which is a free, on-line leadership development programme for Christian Leaders by Claybury International and One Another Ministries. You can find it at the //academy.christian-leadership.org
Image: epSos.de Flickr.com Creative Commons Licence. Croped and stylised