Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCH: Your First Priority in Ministry

HEALTHY CHURCH: Your First Priority in Ministry

Henry Blackaby has defined leadership as moving people onto God’s agenda. It is the process of inspiring others to accomplish God’s desires. J. Oswald Sanders defines leadership as influence, and that means a godly leader influences those around him to pursue God and His goals. In God-Initiated Leadership, Bill Elliff stated, “We cannot improve on Jesus’ plan. Finding those we can be with, invest in and intentionally train is His method and the most important thing we do in our ministry.” If leadership means moving people to God’s agenda, that requires the leader to know God’s agenda for that ministry.

In Spiritual Leadership, Henry stated, “The single most important thing leaders do is pray.” This priority is the foundation for accomplishing the first priority of ministry — developing leaders the same way Jesus did. The only way to know God’s agenda for your life and ministry is through prayer. The one place a leader must be strong is in their prayer life. There are many gifts and different strengths, but the one common denominator required for spiritual leadership is praying without ceasing. People are devoted to many things, but those called by God to the high task of spiritual leadership must be devoted to prayer.

In Church Unique, Will Mancini stated, “Lead your leaders well and everything else will take care of itself.” We know what our mission is — the Great Commission — and we have a vision of how our ministry is to carry out the mission, but the mechanism that drives the vision and mission is leadership development, just as Jesus focused on developing those around Him. Are you more interested in numbers than you are in reproducing spiritual leaders? Mancini continued, “Jesus had an agenda for training the 12 more than He did for teaching the crowd.” So, we must ask, how do you develop spiritual leaders?

Determine what a leader looks like! Do not equate spiritually mature leaders with naturally gifted leaders who may not be spiritually mature. If anyone relies on their natural abilities to lead the body of Christ, that body will be bruised, hurt and damaged before too long. J. Oswald Sanders said, “Spiritual leadership is a matter of superior spiritual power, and that can never be self-generated. There is no such thing as a self-made leader. He is able to influence others spiritually only because the Spirit is able to work in and through him to a greater degree than in those whom he leads.” 

Second, make sure the potential leader agrees with the heart and vision of the ministry God has given you. Just because they were “qualified” to lead a ministry in another church does not automatically mean they will fit into your ministry. Are they teachable and open to more instruction? Do they have a servant’s heart and are they willing to do whatever is asked of them? One of your core values should be that before you can lead, first you must serve. Move slowly if they try to impress you with how qualified they think they are. A leader should not have to do everything but should be willing to do anything. Humility is paramount. 

Watch for potential “spiritual” leaders by knowing where you want them to be spiritually before you appoint them to a leadership position. Are they grounded enough? Bob Logan gave the following advice on spotting potential leaders: “Look for evidence of giftedness in potential leaders; the gifts may not be fully developed. Look for character rather than social standing; they may be a leader in the world, but that doesn’t mean their character has been refined. Look for faithfulness and humility rather than flashes of talent; consistency to follow through with assignments (even when there is little recognition) demonstrates endurance.”

Bob continued: “Look for obedience rather than knowledge; being faithful to do what they know is better than knowing a lot but not putting it into practice. Look for a willingness to learn rather than experience; someone who has ‘done it before’ may not be willing to learn a new way of doing things. Look for available people rather than the overworked leader; too few leaders are carrying too much of the load. Find people who are ready for a new challenge.” Pray that God will give you leaders out of the harvest. You are not only looking for competency and charisma but, more importantly, godly character.

Remember that the most important ingredient for leadership in the church is spiritual formation. Too many “spiritual” leaders in churches today have no prayer life, do not tithe, will not witness and are not walking by faith. They must be equipped with the spiritual habits that are critical in their spiritual growth, such as prayer, Bible study, worship, serving, giving, building relationships with the unchurched and sharing their faith. Before we appoint leaders, we must make sure their values are biblical, and their character is above reproach. Examine these potential leaders through the lens of I Timothy 3, where 22 character qualities are listed.

If spiritual leadership is not properly connected to the vision, it is only a dream and will never materialize. You must be prepared to recruit, train and lead leaders. Do you have an easily reproducible plan to develop leaders in your church? Do you have a leadership pipeline in place that will enable you to discover, develop and deploy new leaders? Developing leaders according to II Tim. 2:2, must be a core value in your life and in your ministry. If you would like to know more about developing a detailed plan for leadership development, please email me for more resources at larry@bmaam.com.

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