by: Rev. Ed Schneider
Just the other day I was part of a team of instructors who were helping to lead the learning of a group African-American ministers . These planters, preachers and pastors came together trying to discover what was necessary to significantly enhance their efforts surrounding their local congregation’s health and vitality. Over a three day period these urban based men and women, whose ages spanned from their late 20’s to early 60’s, were presented with information concerning;
- leadership recognition & development,
- practical evangelism,
- church marketing & branding,
- strategic planning,
- community interactions,
- relational systems theory,
- biblical awareness,
- differing social constructs,
- preaching examples, and
- every statistic known to humanity.
Needless to say, their time was packed full of information and the introduction of several tools having the potential to actually make a tangible difference in their lives and the life of their local congregations. As I observed their facial expressions, listened to their responses, and intently watched their interactions with each other it brought to mind a simple check list, that once embraced, provides a remarkable security for successful Christian expression at every local congregational body of believers.
The following are four basic points-of-interest concerning the “spiritual equation” associated with the practical demonstration of excellence in Christian leadership. As it reads in the title of this offering, the equation reads;
As we move through these four categories of successful Christian leadership, I want you to seriously consider where you may find your strengths as well as your challenges as they are described herein.
The first is [A] Powerful Passion. The Bible says:
13 The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. he shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies. (Isaiah 42:13 NKJV)
There is literally nothing more important in the practical display of Christian leadership than PASSION. Simply put; If you’re not excited about what you are professing, if you’re not enthusiastic about the Christ you claim, and If you are not willing to lead others in the “zeal of God” then you will be severely limited in effective Christian leadership.
A loving heart and a willing spirit to help people in-need does not equate to OUTWARD and OBVIOUS displays of POWERFUL PASSION. That is accomplished by someone who can not…will not….be silenced in expressing the power and presence of God in the lives of those who have entered The Divine’s salvational grace and those who are searching to move beyond their current life circumstances.
Who in their right mind would be drawn to a preacher or lead pastor or youth coordinator or small group leader who isn’t absolutely ON FIRE about how gracious and empowering God is through the life and mission of Jesus Christ.
Remember, As we enter into the depth of God’s love our lives, our thinking, our souls are being transformed into something more than we were before. We are being sent from our past to our futures and along the way empowered and uplifted by the actual presence of God as we are held and encouraged by The Holy Spirit. I am fairly comfortable that is worth getting passionate about!
The Second is [B] Purposeful Preparation. The Bible says:
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
12 My child, I warn you to stay away from any teachings except these. There is no end to books, and too much study will wear you out. (Eccl. 12:12 CVE)
This section is a little more “tricky” because it involve balancing learning with doing. The first scripture extolls the virtue of preparation and the second scripture warns against too much preparation without actually accomplishing the practical work associated with the information learned.
It is incredibly important to learn, to study, to retain, to share hundreds of points of knowledge concerning the biblical, theological, historical, cultural, ethical, mythological, metaphorical, and practical expressions of who and what God is through the life and mission of Christ. A well trained pastor is significantly different than a well prepared preacher. He/She must not only know the previously mentioned list of subjects, they also must be at least competent in the areas of discipleship training, board development, accounting best practices, conflict resolution procedures, community outreach, basic marketing and branding, as well as ceremonial obligation that are associated with the cultural distinction of their particular corner of the larger Christian organization they associate themselves.
As you can see, there is truly much to prepare oneself if you are serious about leading God’s people under the banner of Christ. The problem enters into the equation when someone HIDES in their studies and avoids doing the practical work of ministry. The second scripture warns directly against falling victim to this easy snare. If you’re afraid of failing you will keep your head buried in the books. If you’re afraid of your personal limitations you will take another class…and another….and another.
It is incredibly important to share what you have learned while you are learning it with someone who needs it. So many people struggle with ill-prepared preachers and pastors, so many Christian are burdened with weak and spiritually lacking ministers that is all but impossible for them to experience a healthy atmosphere to grow in and expand their understanding of God.
Of course the other side of this sections involves those sincerely ignorant “ministers” who think that by going to seminary or taking accredited courses on-line or even being mentored personally through their denominational affiliation is somehow weakening their service to Christ. This is outrageously counter-productive and obviously based on their own sinful sense of pride or fear of failure.
The shame of both of these positions involves having a lack of trust in the God they claim. Without question one of the more important practical theological expressions of the Bible SHOUTS AT US to “trust God more than we trust ourselves.” How can we, who are called to lead God’s people, help to demonstrate transformational opportunities if we can’t model it ourselves?
The Third part of the equation is [C] Divine Direction. The Bible says:
11 Then God’s angel called me by name. I answered, (Genesis 31:11 CEV)
Let me just say this next part in plain unadulterated terms. “Church-folks” will often drive you crazy with frustration and nonsensical conflict. With all the stuff that can and does go wrong during the life of any Christian soul or the vast majority of Christian congregational locations….why would any sane person actually….intentionally….want to do that?
Thousands of ministers quit their corner of the church-world every year. The reasons vary among several categories, such as; too many hours, family pressures, fatigue, not enough money for their personal existence, not enough money to do ministry, constant conflicts between grown adults who should know better, denominational politics, the lack of respect from their own members and the community at-large.
So…why would any sane person do this “Jesus thing?” Because God has CALLED THEM! God has touched their lives in a profoundly special way that compels them to move beyond their personal comfort, to move beyond the conflicts, and into the realm of trust…or transformation…of doing something marvelous that will last beyond their lifetime…and do it for the sole purpose of glorifying the God that saved and sanctified their own life. They trust that God will continue to enable their understanding and experiences to see what they could see before, to witness lives and circumstance and communities transformed into the practical display of the grace, mercy, and empowerment of the actual presence of God.
Only what you do for God and in the name of God will last! That is why we do this “Jesus thing.”
The final part of this equation is [D] God Being Glorified. Look at these two bbiblical passages in John and Mark.
18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:18-21)
12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:12 NKJV)
- Those who are chosen by God to lead and guide Christian communities are to be connected to God’s empowerment BECAUSE of their CONNECTION to Christ and the HOLY SPIRIT. They do so because of the truth that lies within them. This truth has at its foundation a divine connection to Christ that shouts a ONENESS with God…a SINGULAR PURPOSE to bring others into the light of God’s actual existance through the life and mission of Jesus.
- Is to never settle for mediocrity when doing anything in the name of Jesus. In the 14th chapter of John, it profoundly and clearly testifies to all believers…then and now….
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12 NKJV)
If we are CALLED OUT to represent God through Christ in the oneness of His presence, if we are enabled by The Divine’s Holy Spirit, if we are set aside to bring others into the acknowledgment of the transformative power of God Almighty….then what are we so afraid of? What are we doing settling for mediocrity. Why are so many churches and Christians alike floundering with an avalanch of excuses?
One reason may be a lack of understanding and commitment to the process described above.
Pray about these categories. Pray very hard. Ask God for an awakening…a revitalized spiritual connection to The Divine. I promise, if you do, The bible says, “knock and the door shall be opened.” It reminds us that even the “smallest amount of faith” can AND DOES produce dramatic results for the Cause of Christ.
There are churches, Christians, and Pastoral Leaders doing wonderful work in the name of Christ. SO CAN YOU! Don’t let the lies of the Devil trick you into believing where you are currently is the only thing God has instore for you. God’s kingdom desires your efforts to be all they can be for an all-powerful and gracious God. I beg you to TRUST GOD more than the circumstances of your life. God is able and you are an instrument of His will. Believe it! Model it! Then LEAD OTHERS into the glorious light of that truth.