Four Challenges of Christian Leadership

We are continuing our Monday studies on Bobby Clinton’s: Leadership Emergence Theory. This week we examine four challenges to incorporate in our leadership journey. These really are a springboard from the Six lessons we touched on last month.

  1. Will we develop in accordance to the work God is already doing in our lives?

As Christians, as individuals in church communities and as leaders, it is true that God is developing us. He is in the business of making us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). He is focused on building us up together into the mature and unblemished Bride of Christ (Ephesians 4).

But this is a work we are called to work alongside Jesus with. Yes, in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian Church talks about us being transformed into His image from one degree to the next…but the context of that is that we are gazing upon His glory, contemplating it and aiming towards it (2 Cor 3:18). Yes, it is God who is at work within us to fulfil His good purpose (Phil 3:13), but it is we who are to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling’ in light of this (Phil 3:12).

Therefore, Clinton challenges us to develop in accordance with the work God is already doing in us. Therefore, we may ask: ‘How am I doing in my development as a leader?’. Am I responding obediently and worshipfully to the work God is doing in me, or am I pushing back, avoiding or neglecting?

2. Will we grow in awareness of God’s processing of younger leaders?

Yes, God is developing us. But Church leadership is not all about us. We must also be aware of which people God is also positioning to lead. This does not necessarily mean identifying them and sending them to Bible college, getting them on courses, or inviting them to your home group. But rather, it means seeking to enhance the work that God is already doing.

Sometimes this will mean delegating them more responsibility, sometimes it will mean teaching them. It could mean taking some time each week to listen to the story that they are living, praying with them, or praying for them silently in the background. It could mean giving them opportunities, connecting them to other leaders etc etc. The important thing is that we are growing in awareness of tGod at work in others.

Paul writes “what you have heard from me, entrust onto reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

3. Develop your ministry philosophy.

We all will have unique and different philosophy’s that drive and guide our leadership. But if we are to build other leaders up, inspire people to pursue God’s heart, and pass the baton, we must spend time learning, defining and articulating the Why behind it all.

Our ministry philosophies ought to:

  • Honour Biblical leadership values
  • Embrace the challenges of our circumstances and times
  • Fit our unique giftedness (spiritual gifts, acquired skills and natural abilities).

In order to develop our ministry philosophy it may help to study the lives of other leaders (biblical, historical and contemporary).

4. Assess and maintain your spirituality.

Over and over again, Clinton emphasises that Christian leadership flows from our Beingness. It is out of who we are that we minister. Therefore it is important that we are in the habit of regularly assessing and maintaining our spirituality.

No, this isn’t an exercise in navel gazing, or even an excuse to allow for elements of legalism. We are not assessing, necessarily, our behaviour (e.g. how many quiet times have I had with God this week). Rather we are examining our heart. Examining our relationship with God. Are we drawing close to Him, or are we avoiding Him. Is our heart in a posture of receptivity, obedience and worship, or is it in pride, rebellion and envy. This could even be a time when we assess whether we are falling into legalism and an earning mentality. Or if we are letting the grace of God define and prove it’s sufficiency to us.

Most leaders fail, not because of a skill deficit, but because they neglect their spirituality. If we want to be leaders who maintain effectiveness over a lifetime, we must prioritise our spirituality.

Clinton writes (page 23):

“Every leader should have an explicit theology of spirituality which guides him/her as development proceeds along the three major goals of spiritual formation, ministerial formation and strategic formation…your thoughtless and heretofore unorganised theology of spirituality guides your life with just as much force as a thoughtful and informed one. Kingdom leadership demands spiritual leadership.

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