A Call for Authentic Christian Leadership

A Call for Authentic Christian Leadership

1. Introduction

  1. Personal background
  2. Structure of the Course

    Five (5) lessons:
    1. A call for authentic Christian leadership
    2. Jesus Christ and leadership
    3. The Christian leader as a caring shepherd
    4. Resilient leadership
    5. Ten enduring lessons I have learned about authentic Christian leadership

These five weeks are introductory. We could go deeper and wider eg vision, teamwork, resilience, leading change and leaders who leave a legacy. A list of relevant resources available from Christian books shops will be made available.

Are you a leader, or an aspiring leader? This series is for you.

There is no shortage of teaching about leadership. Some is written for secular audiences. Others is aimed at leaders of Christian organisations, eg churches; reading them, the assumption is usually made by the authors that the readers are Biblically literate.

The context for this series is Christians in leadership positions in any context. As a Christian believer, a child of God, where you are is where Jesus Christ is. The role you play is a gift from God, and He can enable you to do it well. You may be the only genuine Christian whom people around you know. There is a real need for leaders who are Christians to recognise their callings as such and gain the wisdom to fulfil God's purposes.

Leadership is both a calling and a learned life. This is true, whether you have come into have come into a leadership position through skill preparation and promotion, or simply because events turned out the way they did. Some leadership strengths are developed through education, mentoring and practice. Opportunities can seem to come down to being in the right place at the right time. Leadership is more than "a job", career, or vocation.

Setting out, or consolidating your leadership role, this series aims at identifying key issues and opportunities you will face. It is also a good time to identify risks, to avoid being derailed (too many promising or experienced called leaders end up failing.) The doors God opens up for us, and kinds of leaders we become, stem from how we respond now to the lessons He wants to teach us.

"Why do I want to be a leader?

It is important to question and understand what motivates/drives you. And why people should follow you. There are basically two end models, and we need to choose:

The Need for Christians in Leadership

Authentic, Spirit-enabled Christian leadership really matters.

Not just men and women serving in "Christian" roles, such as pastors of churches, missionaries, worship leaders, youth or children's leaders, or denominational structures (all are important), but wherever Christians are located in society, whether education, business, politics, government, science, media, the arts, community groups or the home.

Christian leaders (ie leaders who are Christians) can strongly influence our world for good, as followers of Jesus Christ. It all gets back to their personal commitment to Christ and their willingness to be "salt" and "light" in their circles of influence, to engage proactively, positively and purposefully, springing from a Christian world view geared to hearing and obeying God's will.

Our ideals of leaders are often defined by our culturally constructed values and expectations:

strong, determined, driven, wilful, ambitious, dominant, knowledgeable, charismatic, successful, usually men.

Few aspirational churches would invite to their leadership team someone who publicly states "I am gentle and humble in heart" (Matthew 11:28). Or who has spent time offending other leaders, languishing in jail, appears to have disabilities and may not be a gifted preacher (Paul). However, Christian leadership is above culture. It is all about Jesus Christ. Our dominant narrative as leaders must be Him. When it comes to leading as a Christian, Jesus bluntly tells that we can nothing apart from Him (John 15:1-8).

As I have explored this topic, and been privileged to serve in secular and Christian leadership roles, in a variety of cultures, over the years, I have discovered that much of what is written about Christian leadership is very generic; it can be applied to different settings; in order to broaden its appeal; it is often stripped of Christian content altogether. We are assured that the principles work, even if applied by non-Christians, because they are eternal truths, however all too often that involves taking the message out of its context and enabling.

We must go back to first principles. Striving (or being available) for leadership can be a good thing, but it is not to be for its own ends; Jeremiah warns us not to aspire to greatness for its own sake (Jeremiah 45:5). It is not about gaining honour from people (John 12:26), or for self-advancement, but for God's purposes. God will never share His honour with anyone (Isaiah 42:8). But He will enable those whom He calls into leadership roles.

For many years, I have been both a Christian leader in a church setting, as an Assemblies of God (now Australian Christian Churches) pastor, and a Christian in official leadership roles in the secular world.

The conclusions that follow are my attempt to portray what I believe works in developing, enabling, releasing and multiplying leaders who will touch our world for God.

A Biblical Example of Leadership

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them."

(Acts 6:1-6)

There are many doors into Christian leadership. The ones we think are most obvious are not always the ones God chooses. If we are humble, He will lead us in the context of His purposes.

The dominant model of leadership in our world is the hierarchy model - the leader at the top directs a team of underlings. This case study from Acts, involving the selection of some of the Christian community's first leaders, is instructive, because it "worked"; we are still talking about it 2000 years later. The selection criteria required that candidates be:

What kind of leader are you?

Let's Re-Define Leadership

Do you know the specific reason you are a leader?

Start talking about Christian leadership and the following will often spring to mind:

Christian leadership does not revolve around:

Effective Christian leadership:

Christian leadership is about serving, not managing, in all spheres of life.
Serving others inverts the pyramid.

Qualities of Godly Leaders

Leaders who are Christians God and lead others to know, love and serve Him.

If you desire to be a leader, as a Christian, that is a good thing

God can raise up leaders from unexpected quarters (Esther 4:14)

He knows the future and is even now preparing new leaders (Joseph, Genesis 50:20).

Be part of His plan.

Maximise your life for God's glory.


Section OverviewArticle List