Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

The Nature of
Christian Leadership

The Bible teaching about the nature of Christian leadership is unique and valuable. There is a part in which God selects, calls, and equips His chosen leaders. There is also the practical side where people can learn specific leadership skills. Here is how the two sides work together.

Leadership Definitions

Problem: how to define Christian leadership. Bennis and Nanus claim there are over 350 definitions, but they write, “Leadership is what gives an organization its vision and its ability to translate that vision into reality” 

John Haggai writes, “leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it toward goals of beneficial permanence that fulfill the group’s real needs.” 

Ken Blanchard, writes, “Leadership is a process of influence. Anytime you seek to influence the thinking, behavior, or development of people in their personal or professional lives, you are taking on the role of a leader.” 

Another writes that leadership, “is the art of getting things done through people…the art of combining ideas, people, things, time and faith to achieve predetermined objectives.”  

Finally, the United States Army’s definition is, “influencing people – by providing purpose, direction, and motivation – while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.” 

Boiling Down the Definitions

From this information, you and I can pull together some common elements of Christian leadership. 

The Bible teaching about leadership involves a leader and a group (or another individual) of people. The leader exercises the ability to identify mutually beneficial goals, and creates an environment and an effective method that motivates and channels the group to achieve those common goals. 

Four important factors of leadership: a leader, a group, a goal, and a method to get to the goal. 

The uniqueness of Christian leadership is that the entire process happens within the will, plan, priorities and purpose of Almighty God as revealed in the Bible, and is grounded and operates under the lordship of Jesus Christ. 

It is from this source that Christian leaders derive qualifications, objectives, principles, and methodologies. In contrast, Nero, Stalin, and Hitler may have been successful leaders, but they used principles foreign to the Christian Faith.

Illustration of God

According to the Bible teaching about the nature of Christian leadership, the book of Genesis reveals these basic leadership factors. After He created the heavens and earth, the leader (God) lined out to the team (the Trinity), His goal and method. 

God proposed, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping things that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). 

Further, “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea…’” (Genesis 1:27).

There is a Person (God), a group (people), a goal (creation management), and a method (people managing the environment and populating the earth). 

Can you see other elements of leadership? There is vision, purpose, planning, action, communication, problem solving, and delegation, etc. Let’s break leadership down even more.

Christian Leaders

The Bible teaching about the nature of Christian leadership indicates that as leaders, we are a special people with a specific position and purpose. We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) who are ambassadors of God sent into a world hostile to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 5:20). 

That means we have a particular world view, motivation, purpose, and allegiance. Paul said, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

As Christians, we are cast in contrast to this world system, which is organized in opposition to God, and headed by Satan and his minions (cf. Matthew 4:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19; Ephesians 6:11, 12). 

Christian leadership can apply to any Christian, because we have all been given a task with resources and abilities to accomplish God’s will for our life and His program. We all have a sphere of influence. You do. I do.

However, the Bible teaching about the nature of Christian leadership teaches that every Christian has also been given a spiritual gift, or special ability, to carry out their part in God’s plan. 

Leadership is one of those gifts. Paul said, “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly…he who leads, with diligence…” (Romans 12:6, 8). What about the “group” part of Christian leadership? Follow on.

The Group

The Bible teaching about the nature of Christian leadership says our primary responsibility is with Christians. Christian leaders lead Christian endeavors. However, you and I also have a responsibility to the rest of God’s creation. 

God’s original charge given to Adam and Eve still applies to us. With the opportunities and resources He grants, and the stations of life He allots to each of us, we are to be careful caretakers of His creation – and champions of human life and propagation. 

That involves working with all people in the world in all kinds of activities that glorify God, and fosters the betterment of humanity.

The Goal: The Great Commission

In addition to the original mandate given humanity, the Bible teaching about Christian leadership carries a narrower focus. Paul teaches that we have been given the “ministry of reconciliation,” and, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 20).

Christian leadership highlights eternal matters over the temporary things of this world (2 Corinthians 4:18). We do what we can to make this life better. But, in the final analysis, what good is it if we, for example, cure a person’s cancer, yet let their soul slip into an eternal hell? 

Jesus asked the same question, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).  For details on the Great Commission, click here. (link)

The Christian Methodology

The Bible teaching about Christian leadership portrays a unique method. As you and I walk through life, we actively spread God’s values through our good example, persuasion, and influence. Jesus called that being salt of the earth, and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16).

We also actively plan and program to persuade people to become followers of Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20). This is by persuasion, not by government decree or by the barrel of a gun.

Christian leadership also calls for a “servant” approach. Jesus modeled this approach when He taught the “Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

That means leaders cast vision, plan, organize, lead, and evaluate just like any other organization. Jesus did. The difference is that Christian leadership has the welfare of the people, organization, and God’s purpose as motivation. 

In our government we see the same concept in the term, “public servant.” The opposite is to selfishly accumulate for the leader’s benefit. 

For an expansion on Christian leadership, I highly recommend the book, Lead Like Jesus, by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges.

This Bible teaching about the nature of Christian leadership is just an introduction. As you can see, it is unique and valuable. Using Christian principles will greatly increase your success in life and ministry. Keep up your good study.

May God richly bless you,

Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman

BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Following His burst of creative work, what did God do (Genesis 1:31)?

2. How would you describe being the “salt of the earth,” and “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14)?

3. How would you describe the concept of “servant leadership” (Matthew 20:25-28)?

4. Read 1 Thessalonians chapters one and two, and list all the elements of Christian leadership that you can. Focus on tasks, character, and relationships.

5. Read Matthew 28:18-20, and identify all the leadership factors that you can.

6. Read John 15:16-27, and explain in your own words the features of Christian leadership and work.

7. Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and describe the qualities and tasks of Christian leadership.

8. Explain in your own words how Peter describes the nature and exercise of Christian leadership and work (1 Peter 5:1-4).

9. List the features of Christian leadership in the following verses: Acts 13:2; 15:36; 6:1-7.

10. What stand out to you the most in this study on the nature of Christian leadership?

11. What areas of Christian leadership can you improve on in your own life?

12. What areas of Christian leadership would you like to research further?

Footnotes:

  1Warren Bennis & Burt Nanus, Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 4.

  2John Haggai, Lead On (Waco: Word Books, 1986), p. 4.

  3Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges, Lead Like Jesus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), p. 5.

  4Peter Wiwcharuck, Building Effective Leadership (Three Hills, Alberta, Canada: International Christian Leadership Development Foundation, Inc., 1987), pp. 52, 53.

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