If you’re involved in church leadership, you’ve probably asked this question before.
It probably happened when you weren’t feeling too effective. In disgust, you might have asked, “What do people expect from me anyway?”
I’m not sure I can answer that question fully. Instead, let’s accept that some people are never satisfied with their leaders, and the problem is the one in the mirror. Some individuals are unhappy and unsatisfied with their life. They can’t be pleased regardless of what you do or how you attempt to help them.
But that doesn’t describe all people. The overwhelming majority of people need three basic items from their Christian leaders. Even if they never say it publicly, they appreciate these three greatly.
It’s not always as easy as A-B-C. But we can do this by the empowering grace of the One who called us to serve Him and lead them.
Live right before them.
Yes, people expect their Christian leaders to live like Christians. Even if they aren’t living right, they want you to. They need you to set forth the example.
Every time I read the biblical qualifications for local church leaders, I’m amazed. Character is always more important than competency. The standard never changes. You can get by with being less than in the realm of competency. But when it comes to character, “steer clear of evil in any form” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, JBP). Or, as the KJV says, “abstain from all appearance of evil.”
You’ll never have to be ashamed of living righteously.
Love them patiently.
People need to be loved. They don’t always act like it, but they do. And the people who don’t act like it might need it more than the rest.
If you don’t love people, you shouldn’t be in Christian leadership. Everyone understands and receives love in different ways, so this is sometimes tricky. However, let me pause and remind you that “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV). Or consider the J.B. Phillips rendering of that same verse: “This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.”
Love doesn’t mean we approve of poor character and sinful choices. But it does mean I will respect you as a human being. Love means we give others space and grace to change, grow, and learn to live right.
You’ll never be able to lead them if you can’t love them patiently.
Lead them with strength.
This can be overplayed. We’ve all seen it happen. However, if you’ll live righteously and love patiently, most people will follow your strong leadership.
People do not like to follow Christian leaders who are indecisive with words and hesitant with actions. They need to see godly confidence portrayed.
Remember the shepherd of the ancient orient. He did not lead his sheep from behind them. That’s driving. He confidently led them from out front.
Christian leaders speak God’s word with confidence (Hebrews 13:7-9). Christian leaders know God’s strength and attempt great things for Him (Daniel 11:32). Christian leaders sense security in their calling and serve the people they’re called to lead (Matthew 20:26-28).
You’ll never have a problem confidently leading the people you love.
- Live right.
- Love patiently.
- Lead strong.
The Holy Spirit recently reminded me of these three, and I trust my sharing is a blessing to you. My church leadership will focus on these three as we continue leading through this season that has kept us on our toes and knees.
What do you think about these three? Would you have put them in a different order? Leave a comment, and let’s keep the discussion going as we help one another.