In his book Spiritual Leadership, Oswald Sanders states, “If the world is to hear the churches voice today, leaders are needed.” Fred Smith wrote in Learning to Lead, “A church can call you to be a pastor because pastor is a title. The call does not make you a leader. Leader is not a title but a role. You only become a leader by functioning as one.”
While there are a thousand definition of leadership, and many of them are well worded are some cleverly crafted, I wholeheartedly agree with the two statements above. And without being a pessimist, I believe one of the greatest needs we have in American Church is godly leadership. Let me say that again, godly leadership; not clever leadership, not influential leadership, not star leadership, not relevant leadership, but anointed godly leadership. I believe we have some of the greatest leadership potential since what I have read of great men and women of the WWII generation, but we are struggling in the area of godly leadership. Could this be because far too many preachers are focused on worldly leadership instead of godly leadership?
One of my most memorable moments at seminary was when Dr. Adrian Rodgers substituted for one of my classes. I will never forget him coming into the room, pulling up a table and sitting down to teach. The question from most of us up-and coming star preachers was, “How do we grow a church like yours, Dr. Rogers?” He would not even entertain the conversation instead what he said is still etched in my memory. He began to talk about his spiritual disciplines, how he rose extremely early to read and study the word, and next how he led his family. He talked of how he and his wife would spend an hour each day praying together. I knew why he had a dynamic ministry, he loved God and his family more than his ministry; he was indeed a godly leader.
I have been blessed to have a tremendous amount of godly leadership modeled to me in my young journey as a pastor. From the greatest influence which would be my father-in-law, to numerous seminary teachers, and many godly pastoral leaders; I believe we must go back and decide as god-called preachers what kind of leader will I be? With that said I would love to share 3 observations concerning godly leadership:
1. Godly leaders are not approval addicts.
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
I believe one of the hardest areas for pastoral leaders today is the area of approval. I asked my wife Sunday if my sermon was good, she said, it was very good. I then asked, “was it very, very good?” (she rolled her eyes and laughed) When we are honest, we will acknowledge how true this is. (How many times do you ask someone if what you said or preached was good? Or how many times to you fish for affirmation?) Listen I believe in constructive criticism, but I know from my own experience if I rest on the approval of others for what I preach, I am in trouble. I tell myself often, “people are not rejecting me, but the Word of God.” My responsibility of to fill the pulpit, not invoke a response. The Word of God if fully capable of doing that. One thing I have learned and witnessed is the more I am aware of my identity in Christ, the less I desire the approval of men. As a godly leader we must be able to deal with rejection and not fall into the trap of being an approval addict.
Part 2 of “Godly Leadership”, in the next few days….stay tuned.