What is a “Christian Leader”

In a sense every Christian is a leader and every Christian is a follower. We are commissioned to lead people to Jesus and we are commissioned to follow Him. In a sense the question above has so many answers it would be impossible to answer them all in a blog post.

We could talk about the character of a Christian Leader (CL) or we could talk about the work of a CL. We could talk about the relationships, the motives, the flavour of Christian leadership.

1) “A Christian Leader is a person with God-given capacity and God-given responsibility who is influencing a specific group of God’s people toward’s God’s purposes” – Bobby Clinton.

There is a lot to learn from this definition. One of the things that strikes me in particular is that C. Leadership is God centred! It comes from God, is fuelled by God, for God’s people, for God’s purposes. Too often we miss this in our leadership training. We focus on the leader themselves, on their growth and development. If God is at the centre of our leadership then perhaps our training should revolve around Him.

2) Leadership emergence comes as a response to God’s intentional intervention throughout the CL’s lifetime in crucial ways. These interventions shape the CL towards God’s purposes, develop their capacity, realise the potential of their Giftedness (be it natural abilities, acquired skills or spiritual gifts).

God’s intentional intervention also allows room for the CL’s positive or negative response. Will he/she ignore or receive, reject or submit, flee or invite God’s intervention?

I think of Joshua who before the walls of Jericho came down was given the choice to take off his sandals or keep them on. The small act of obedience (in Joshua 5:13+) would have enormous consequences for Israel’s victory (Joshua 6). I think of Ezekiel who was told to speak to the wind. I think of Gideon told to get out the wine press. Or Peter who was told to put his net out to the other side of the boat and who responded “we have not caught anything all night, but because you say so I will.”

3) The emergence of a CL is a life-time process in which God both sovereignty and providentially is active in the spiritual formation, ministerial formation and strategic formation of a leader.

Too often we treat leadership development that happens at the start and then stops when a person becomes a leader. In fact this is not true. Rather it is a lifetime process.

This content is a result of my studying Dr. J. Robert Clinton’s work: Leadership Emergence Theory, available here.

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