1. Leaders are made, not born.
2. All leadership is tied to influence: what you say and what you do.
3. Leaders are never satisfied with status quo—it must go.
4. Leaders are positive change agents.
5. Poor leadership creates chaos, confusion, lack of progress, and frustration
6. Leaders are motivated by results, not talking points.
7. Leaders can’t stand apathy, procrastination, or laziness.
8. Trust is the heart of leadership; without it there is no leadership.
9. Mediocre leadership produces mediocre followers.
10. Leaders are mission and vision driven; always moving forward.
11. Leaders are servants and encouragers.
12. A leader can’t lead beyond his character.
13. There are no “perfect” leaders; they are works in progress.
14. Church leaders are spiritual persons—Christlike.
15. Anybody can grow in leadership ability.
16. You can’t lead from the rear—you lead from the front.
17. What you DO is more powerful than what you say.
18. God’s cause deserves the best leadership possible.
19. Great leaders were once great followers.
20. Leadership development is a deliberate process.
22. Positive leaders demand feedback and accountability.
23. People are more important than people.
24. Leadership is a function designed to glorify God (Eph. 3:21).
25. The test of leadership is the RESULTS it generates.
21. Leadership continually changes because situations change.
SCENE: Let’s drop in on a typical congregational business meeting on Main Street USA:
Ralph: “Well, where are the other men? I guess we are in for another boring and none meaningful church business meeting. I always dread these meetings.”
Chuck: “Amen to that! I’d rather go to the dentist than attend one of these meetings. At least the dentist has an objective and time limit and gets with it.”
Bill: “What’s this meeting about? I hope it’s not about the same-old-stuff—the bills, giving, sound doctrine issues, and evaluating the preacher.”
Fred: “I hope this meeting is quick and to the point. I have a lot of work to do in order to prepare for work tomorrow.”
Most of us at one time or another have been in congregational, and other, business meetings that were off target, meaningless, ineffective, and boring. No doubt from time to time we contributed to these negative qualities. In a recent Inc. magazine article a survey was reported in which 47 percent said the meetings they attended were not productive (24 June 2016).
There are all kinds of attitudes toward meetings by members of a congregation that contribute to their ineffectiveness. Here are ten:
Business meetings are no more effective than the behavior and attitude of those who attend or don’t attend. If we are going to have business meetings we must do all we can to ensure they are conducted in the best possible way. Effectiveness doesn’t happen by chance. One way to learn and improve is to be aware of what the negatives are that contribute to an issue and then eliminate them. Here are 21 possible signs and contributors to ineffective business meetings:
There are other contributors to ineffective congregational business meetings, these 21 are some of the major ones. List three additional things that may contribute to the ineffectiveness of a business meeting?
As noted in the previous 21 observations about contributors to ineffective business meetings, it should be obvious that successful meetings depend on the preparation and participation of each person in attendance. A congregational business meeting is not a theater production where some act and others observe. It is a gathering of servants where all participate.
Here are some suggestions for preparing to attend and participate in a congregational business meeting:
List three (3) additional ways you can prepare to participate in congregational business meetings:
Meetings that are well planned, organized, and efficiently executed are effective tools for a local congregation to pursue the mission given by God. This means leaders must wake up to the value and importance of effective meetings.
How do you intentionally plan to be a more effective attendee to congregational business meetings? ____________________________________
Leadership, like most subjects, has gone through a lot scrutiny, study, adjustment and change in the last three decades. These studies have included the traits, styles, character, integrity and theories of leadership. Models of both effective and negative leadership have been featured in articles, books, and seminars. Most local congregations have also, at one time or another, during recent years given attention to leadership.
Over the past 30 years several new leadership models have been presented in the business sector of America. Some have found acceptance and application in congregations. These include transformational, transactional, charismatic, situational, managerial, and servant leadership. Examples from Hitler to Churchill have been used as models of leadership. Even the leadership traits of Jesus, Moses, Paul, and Nehemiah have been presented as models.
Back in 2007, Lee Iacocca asked in the title of his bestselling book, “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?” (Simon & Shuster, N.Y., N.Y.). On page five he asked: “Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all these leaders gone?” While the author is referencing his remarks to business and political leaders, there is a principle application for church leaders.
Whatever happened to leadership in the church? Yes, I know we have restored the titles of elder, deacon, preacher, teacher, and minister. But have we restored the leadership practices we observe in first century church leaders? After writing 20 books, numerous articles and teaching leadership on the undergraduate and graduate levels, I know I have now taken a step onto sensitive, controversial, and avoidable ground. Speaking for myself, most of us who lead in the church don’t want the spotlight directed on us and our performance. Why? Two reasons. We know we aren’t perfect but keep our hands to the plough anyway. Second, so many requirements and expectations based on business and sports models have been added to the servant model God requires. We have created a model for failure, discord, and abuse of the biblical model of being a servant leader.
I know that leadership in congregations’ today face cultural, economic, moral, educational, media, and spiritual challenges no other generation of leaders has faced. There is the necessity for using commonsense, expediencies, and allowing changes in traditions in order for the Body of Christ to carry out her mission in the world. However, all processes addressing these challenges must be based on the solid leadership principles in God’s word.
In order to restore biblical leadership we must begin with the realization that all leadership begins with self-leadership. It is in leading self that we learn what leadership is and how it works. If I can’t lead myself how can I lead others? Whether as an elder, deacon, preacher, teacher, or minister, your work is based on your ability to lead yourself. The apostle Paul addressed this principle in his Romans letter: “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” (Romans 2:21, 22).
In order to restore biblical leadership we must understand and practice servant leadership. This is in contrast to the dictator, boss, or owner mentality of leadership. Jesus set the example (cf. Mark 10:45; Philippines 2:4-9). When the disciples of Christ were seeking prominent positions of leadership, Jesus rebuked them and gave them this reminder: “… You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:35-45).
In order to restore biblical leadership we must remember that a leader’s influence is the major catalysis for effectively leading followers. It’s the old adage “What you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying.” In giving the Philippian brethren a thinking agenda, Paul reminded them it wasn’t just words but it was his example: “The things which you have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Every Christian is influencing someone else; this is especially true of leaders.
In order to restore biblical leadership it is essential that leaders be bold, not cowards. Boldness was one of the obvious traits others saw in the early church leaders. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Boldness is not rudeness, pushiness, or aggressiveness. It is having the faith and convictions to do the right things regardless of the opposition. It is saying “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). It is knowing that fearfulness is not from God (cf. 2 Timothy 1:7).
In order to restore biblical leadership it requires knowing and practicing every attitude and action with a view of glorifying God, not self or anything or anyone else. “[T]o Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). “For to Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
In the world of what we call executive leadership there is a continual quest trying to find a test or evaluation that will quickly identify and determine an executive’s leadership ability. This quest has produced a plethora of diagnostic profiles, tests, forms, assessments, and evaluations that offer insight into leadership ability, or a lack thereof. In some congregations these diagnostic tools are being used with Bible passages tacked on. This may help us answer the question: Whatever happened to leadership? Biblical leadership has been absorbed, diluted, and replaced by a worldly approach. We must prayerfully and biblically ask and answer, What is the biblical test for real leadership that glorifies God?
This brief article has been written with the intention and need to draw our attention to the question, Whatever happened to leadership? How visible and successful is it in our congregations? Every institution from the home to the White House; from the local church to a military unit, is where it is because of leadership yesterday and tomorrow will be where leadership is today. We close with these clarion words by Jesus relative to following the leaders in His day: “Let them alone. They are leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14). Remember the leadership approved by Jesus involves serving, caring, sharing, loving, selflessness, and courage, all based on the word of God. All Christian leadership has a spiritual dimension, which affirms that every kind of church leadership centers in the spiritual.
Whatever happened to leadership?
J.J. Turner presently serves as an elder and preacher for the Lord’s church in McDonough, GA.
As I travel around the brotherhood I am asked more and more frequently, “Whatever happened to leadership training?” This question is relevant in light of the decline of leadership in the church; especially the training and equipping of men to serve as elders and deacons. I recently came across these phrases by an unknown author:
“When the ship is sinking, it not the time to train the crew in abandon ship drills.”
“When the last inning is played, it’s not time to call for a pinch hitter.”
“When the sheep have been scattered, lost their way, or eaten by wolves, it is not time to ask for volunteers to be shepherds.”
The best time to take out fire insurance is before there is a fire. The best time to learn how to swim is before you are going down for the third or last time. The best time to train competent leaders is before there is a crisis. Most congregations are in their present state because it is where past leadership decisions and actions have brought them. Where the church will be tomorrow and years from now depends on leadership training, decisions and actions of today.
Back to the question: Whatever happened to leadership training? Here are some of my answers to this vital question:
1. Some congregations have never engaged in a regular, curriculum based, and advanced training for all levels of church leadership.
2. Some congregations have failed, for whatever reason, to see the need for the ongoing training of leaders. They seem to be blinded to this need.
3. Some have given up the training of leaders because it didn’t accomplish what they thought it should accomplish.
4. Some gave up training future leaders because they didn’t have an “expert” or competent person to do the training.
5. Some congregational leaders don’t want to admit that they have a need for additional training. Some don’t want their own weaknesses to be exposed.
6. Some haven’t had a leadership training program for years because they are not aware of the outstanding materials, workshops and lectureship being conducted in this field.
7. Some, sadly, have shifted from the biblical emphasis of church organization and leadership to a “majority” rule approach.
Training leaders in the local church is a needed work. Pursuing a leadership role in the church is also an honorable desire. It is not by accident that the first qualification of an elder is “desire” (1 Timothy 3:1). Desire is not limited to elders. All church leadership must stem from a desire to follow Christ. This attitude is one of humility (Philippians 2:4-9). It takes time to develop leaders. The Hebrews’ writer affirmed that “by reason of time one becomes a teacher” (Hebrews 5:11-14).
The local congregation should be an ongoing leadership training school. This school equips all members for ministry (cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). It trains members in how to be “workers with God” (2 Corinthians 6:1, 2). This leadership school equips leaders to pursue the eternal mission given by God to the church (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Mark 16:15, 16). This school is committed to bringing glory to God through the church (Ephesians 3:21). This leadership school will commit the work of the church to faithful men who shall in turn pass it on to others (2 Timothy 2:1-3).
Imagine the curriculum for a congregational leadership training school as a stool with three legs. Each leg represents a major subject that is essential to properly and biblically training leaders in the church. These three legs are: (1) knowledge, (2) character, and (3) skill. Let’s take a brief look at each subject:
KNOWLEDGE is essential in the leader’s preparation. He must first know God’s word. The Bible is his guide and safe manual for leading himself and others. Knowledge of basic people differences and needs will help a leader do his work more effectively. Successful leaders must know the times and challenges in which they are leading. This means that the congregational leadership school will have a curriculum that teaches the basic subjects leaders need to know.
CHARACTER is the heart and soul of a leader. A leader may have knowledge and many other things but without character he will not be effective as a leader. Sadly, some leaders are “characters” instead of having character. The Bible has numerous character traits that will equip the leaders in this needs area. The traits of love in 1 Corinthians 13; the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-26; the thinking agenda of Philippians 4:6-9; and of course the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-13). Character is displayed in behavior and is molded through behavior disciplines.
SKILL is needed for a leader to use his knowledge and character properly in leading God’s people. Many times a man is given a leadership role he does not posses the skill to perform. Some are assigned leadership roles, not because they have the skill, but because it will “help him be faithful.” This is putting the cart before the horse. Jesus spent approximately thee-and-a-half years in training his Apostles for the leadership roles they would later perform in the church. The Holy Spirit came and continued their training. We must not ask a leader to perform something he does not have the skill to do. The church is an equipping school.
Think of the three legged stool model. Imagine a stool with only one strong leg, say for example a leader has good knowledge but is weak in character and skills. Perhaps he is strong in character but lacks in knowledge and skills. Maybe he is the “Jack of all trades” skills wise but is lacking in knowledge and character. The challenge of the congregational leadership school is to equip each leader in all three areas. This takes planning, time and dedicated effort in an ongoing school of leadership.
Whatever happened to leadership training in your congregation?
We have all heard, read and studied the story of Noah and the ark. It is a favorite Bible story. But I wonder how many of us have looked at these grand old set of truths with the idea of leadership in mind? That’s what we will do in this lesson: Study the numerous leadership lessons to be gained from Noah and the ark. In order to prepare for this study you should read Genesis 6-8.
Here are 25 major lessons from Noah and the building of the ark:
1. God can always do great things out of the midst of chaos (Genesis 6:1-7, 1-13).
2. God always has a mission for a righteous man (Genesis 6:9, 13).
3. No other person may have been asked to do what God wants you to do (Genesis 6:14, “Build me an ark”).
4. God will be with you as you do His will (Genesis 6:18, 22).
5. Do things in pairs—there’s strength in numbers (Genesis 6:19-21).
6. The ark was built by an amateur, not a professional.
7. Use what you have—“gopher wood”—not steel, pre-fabrication, etc.
8. Take care of your health because God may have a mission for you in old age (Genesis 7:11, Noah was 600).
9. Finish what you start (Genesis 6:22).
10. Before you rock the boat, remember others are on it with you (Team building).
11. Don’t be afraid to launch an untested boat, in untried waters. Walk by faith!
12. Do not worry about what others think about your “strange project.”
13. You can build “your ark” right where you are.
14. Don’t neglect your family—share your ark with them.
15. Ride out the storm—it won’t last forever—the sky will clear—sail on.
16. Put on your raincoat even though you’ve never experienced rain—be ready.
17. Don’t fret about not having any “boat building experience.”
18. Speed isn’t important—great things take time, be patient. (Noah was).
19. God is smarter than you are—obey, even if you don’t fully understand.
20. Look for the dove—the signs that you have finished the assignment.
21. No matter how severe the storm (or challenge), God will always provide a rainbow.
22. Celebrate after the “cruise” (job) is finished (Genesis 8:20-22)—worship God. 23. Believe in what you don’t understand, or haven’t experienced.
24. God doesn’t sponsor failures—trust Him.
25. Be careful not to drop your guard after success (Genesis 9:18-29). God has an ark for all of us to build as we lead his church to accomplishing the assignments he has given us. Learn from Noah.
Is your leadership team ready to build an ark? Are you? The Jeremiah Institute has prepared numerous helps for equipping the local church to fulfil the mission given by God. Want a Diploma of Biblical Leadership? Check our course offerings. Need a leadership seminar or training program? Check our leadership section. Contact us through our CONTACT icon.