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What Church Leaders Should Know About Christian Leadership

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Not everyone who attended the Global Leadership Summit 2013 are church leaders as the summit was not geared specifically to Christians, but to leaders of all faiths. Many elements of effective leadership can be applied to Christian circles as well as to the secular world. Here is a summary of the key points of the summit and the counsel that the speakers offered. But, we do focus on Christian leadership and the hard labor that true believers in Jesus face each day.

Bill Hybels


Senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL), believes that there are four things that are important for church leaders to keep in mind. All of them revolve around the goal to get people from point A to point B. They are:

1. Being an effective leader requires bravery and a vision. It's necessary to remember the powerful message of Joshua 1:9; the Lord told Joshua, leader of the Israeli people, "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

2. Part of effective Christian leadership requires you to define the reality of the situation by asking yourself three questions:

a. Are things getting worse? If they are, you have to use all of the resources that your employees or parishoners can offer you. Everyone in the organization or church must get to work.

b. Would you say that the situation is part of the status quo? Such a situation requires you to light a fire to motivate people to work harder. This way you will prevent things from going downhill.

c. Are things going well? Add fuel to the fire!

3. Church leaders should do what pastor Bill Hybels calls "building a culture". Basically, it requires you to use external systems to evaluate the current situation. This part of Christian leadership can be accomplished simply by asking your employees, if you're in the secular world, or your parishoners, if you are church leaders, for feedback. Although Christian leaders should learn to deal with negative feedback, they can ask for anonymous comments. This way people can be completely honest. Also, Christian leaders should be willing to apologize for their shortcomings and faults, if they have been arrogant, belligerent, selfish, lazy, etc. Let employees or members of your church know that every person must do his or her part for the team, group, or church to have success.

4. Pastor Bill Hybels explained that another important part of Christian leadership involves establishing and enforcing values. He shared his personal experience. He wanted his congregation (Willow Creek Community Church), which was predominantly White, to be racially diverse. He shared his desire with his congregation. He said that church leaders must stand firm in their decisions and be strong enough to tell those who do not agree with the changes that they can leave.

Bill Hybels is the senior pastor and founder of Willow Creek Community Church. He founded the Global Leadership Summit, now in more than 525 cities in 100 countries. Willow Creek is one of the largest churches in the world with more than 24,000 people in regular attendance.

General Colin Powell


General Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State was senior level advisor to four U.S. presidents in the roles of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the 65th U.S. Secretary of State. He served in the U.S. Army for 35 years, rising to the rank of four star general.

Church leaders learn from Colin Powell that:

1. They cannot be leaders if no one wants to follow them.

2. It's okay to get angry, but they should not take action or make decisions until they have overcome their anger.

3. Leaders: don't try to do everything. It's good to delegate authority.

This last piece of wise advice is in agreement with the advice that Liz Wiseman gave when she told Christian leaders not to see themselves as more intelligent than their subordinates. They have experience, talent, abilities, and reasoning power also.

Colin Powell also explained that something is wrong when your subordinates or the members of your church don't go to you when they are facing a problem. What behavior patterns do you need to change? What comments do you need to stop making?

All of this advice can be applied to Christian leadership as well as to secular leadership.

The Valuable Advice of Chris Brown


Brother Brown emphasized how dangerous it is for Christian leaders to make two serious errors:

1. Becoming envious of their subordinates or of those who attend their church.

2. Forget that Christ is the true Leader and Pastor of all of his servants, whether they have an "important" position in the church or not.

He reminded us of the story of Saul and David. As a child, David was brave enough to defy Goliath when all of Israel feared him. In fact, the boy, in the power of God, killed the giant (1 Samuel, chapter 17). Saul, by the permissive will of the Lord, was king of Israel. The nation was under his leadership, but David, because he slew Goliath, is the one who gained victory for God's people. We soon learn that Saul did not understand the elements of Christian leadership.

We read, "And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?"

Had Saul understood the true definition of Christian leadership, he would not have come to envy David. If only he had understood that the kingdom did not belong to him, but to the King of kings who works according to his will and uses whom he wants when he wants.

Many church leaders are like their secular counterparts. But, the Lord Jesus dealt with the problem of his servants desiring to be great among their brethren in Christ. Although they might not recognize it, many church leaders, deep down, are arrogant. Many have a proud and controlling spirit.

Chris Brown reminded us of the words of Jesus in Mark 10:42-45. We read, "But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you. But whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

The teaching of the passage in Mark is extremely important when speaking of true Christian leadership. Vijay Govindarajan, one of the speakers at the summit, reminded us that it's essential for leaders to adapt to necessary change, including changes of attitude that are not useful to God.

Throughout the summit, the Christian speakers made it clear to us that when they said "church leaders", they were mainly referring to pastors of local churches. May the Lord Jesus, the perfect Leader, and our true Pastor, open the eyes of every pastor who will not be able to do his perfect will until he or she comes to understand what Christian leadership is in the eyes of Christ.


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