Being a leader is hard.
There’s no question or doubt about it. I tend to avoid leadership positions and support those who have to shoulder that load. There are some leadership techniques that creep into Christian leader’s toolboxes as certified tools; however, they are not at all principles found in the way of Jesus. Remember, Paul reminds us not to conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2).
Many of these alternative methods use force as though violence, pressure and aggression will wrench out allegiance. They don’t seek to reach the hearts of the people they lead. These kind of tactics might summon suppression, but not loyalty. As one inspired writer reminds us, “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened.”
Here are a few of the un-Christlike methods commonly used by leaders:
Don’t give orders. Take them.
“But Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…’” Matthew 20:25-27, New Living Translation.
Eric had asked Shannon to join him in a pioneer mission project. She had previous experience in that particular sort of work. Sometimes when the small team was training, Shannon would share her experiences to help the other team members better do their work. Understanding and relief broke over the other team members faces as they wrapped their minds around the intricate ways they could connect with the people they were trying to serve. However, Eric was upset his leadership was being threatened. He was concerned the team members would see Shannon as the leader instead of him—or even like her better.
Eric confronted Shannon telling her he felt she threatened him, and asked her to be more submissive. Shannon had no desire to be the leader. She knew very well that it is an often a difficult and thankless job. She was disappointed that Eric could only think of his image instead of the weighty matters at hand, like how they could most effectively do the Lord’s work.
When our focus shifts to our ego from how we can serve, it is misplaced. We don’t need to worry about our image or what great position we may occupy. In Jesus’ leadership methods, we won’t look like leaders. We’ll look like servants.
You don’t receive the Holy Spirit by attending Andrews or SOULS West.
The burden of leading the community of Israelites is too heavy for Moses. He follows some wise advice to delegate some of the responsibilities to others. God instructs Moses to gather these people together, so he can pour out His Spirit on them. Two of the men don’t make it to the gathering. Yet, God pours out his Holy Spirit on them anyway and they begin showing signs of God’s power where they are.
“Let me go stop them!” exclaims a horrified Joshua.
“No!” counters Moses, “I wish that all of you would be filled with God’s Spirit like this!”
There’s a similar story in the New Testament. Where someone is casting out demons. The disciples stop him. Jesus rebukes them. “But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.” Luke 9:50, New Living Translation
To consider another Bible figure, Paul wasn’t in the upper room after Pentecost. He didn’t get a chance to sit at the feet of Jesus. Yet, Jesus still called him.
There will be people that aren’t official ministers of the church. Perhaps they won’t go to official schools or be with the official conference program. Don’t check to see if they have the official credentials. Simply look for the Spirit of Jesus. If we find the fruit, let’s work to support them.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Don’t over stay your welcome.
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8, New Living Translation
“I don’t know what they’ll do if something were to happen to me,” Josh confided smugly. While it’s gratifying to feel needed and useful at what you do, it’s important to remember that God could call you elsewhere in a moments notice. It’s important to prepare the structure of your ministry to be able to pass on your leadership. Moses wisely delegated his leadership. Even Joshua prepared the leaders to carry on a strong spiritual leadership after his death. Jesus himself was willing to step down from his position as God when it was demanded of him. Always lead with all you’ve got, being prepared to give up the position tomorrow if that’s what is best for the people you are serving.
No, the enemy is not angry. He is probably happy that you’re sulking in a corner.
“People who do not get along with others are interested only in themselves; they will disagree with what everyone else knows is right.” Proverbs 18:1, Good News Translation
Ryan confided to Riley that he wasn’t getting along with his best friend. He mentioned that this was surely the best friend’s fault. Then there was friction between him and Riley. He then shared that this wasn’t the first time he had bumped heads with a best friend. In fact, he was at odds with a whole ministry resulting in the loss of a best friend and a girlfriend. He chalked this conflict up to the enemy being angry.
Riley was uncomfortable with some of the decisions Ryan was making. First, he was disregarding the team and then the authorities’ warnings and concerns. Riley felt Ryan would ultimately endanger their ministry team, and someone could get badly hurt. She knew her input would not be welcomed, so she tried to keep her mouth shut and prayed that God would have mercy.
Then it happened. One of the team members did get injured. She burst out in frustration saying, “You really need to listen more!”
Ryan immediately started to sulk. Bemoaning to the other team members that Riley told him that no one would like him if he didn’t listen and that she just hated him. He was overwhelmed by the sticky situation which he decided was all his fault. While a little bit of foresight and thoughtfulness on Ryan’s part could have helped to avoid this situation, this was not the time to be having a pity party. It was time to figure a way out.
You might not be this childish, but watch yourself. Are you making a situation all about you when it shouldn’t be? Are you getting jealous when others get the attention? Are you only looking out for your own interests? Now would be a good time to stop, pray and refocus.
Don’t make the good old days your standard.
“Don’t long for ‘the good old days.’ This is not wise.” Ecclesiastes 7:10, Good News Translation
“When I was at Mountain Top Ministry, we did things this way.” Oops, I let it slip out of my mouth. Again. My ministry leader looked pained. I should have known better because I expended a lot of energy trying to get my Pathfinder leaders to adopt innovative techniques that would inspire and engage. Yet, old age was already getting to me and I wanted to be safe.
While there’s nothing wrong with borrowing techniques that worked in the past, it’s not good to dwell there. Sometimes what we should be saying is, “How can we develop this idea?” or “I see some flaws here. Is there a solution for them?” Other times we need to just shut up, try it out and asses for failure afterward. Today’s solutions are different from yesterday’s. Be open to trying new things.
Discrimination is not okay. Stop it.
“But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.” James 2:9, New Living Translation
It’s easy to oppress the downtrodden when they are already on the floor. Last year, a famous tele-evangelist fell into the trap when he couldn’t be bothered to open up his mega-church as a shelter when Hurricane Harvey swept through Houston.
Marginalizing can happen in very simple ways, like picking the church members with money to be on the board, or only seeking out the cool kids to join you in ministry.
Jesus is all about being there for those who are looked down upon by society. Being a Christ-like leader not only means find ways to ease their suffering, but also including them in ministry. Give them a chance. Praise their efforts. Listen to their ideas. Just like Jesus did for people like Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene.
Let’s sum it all up like this. If leaders want to be like Jesus, they must shun all of these controlling and manipulative techniques, and serve others in humility and love.
How have you seen Christlike and in-Christlike behaviors in leadership?
 Obviously, the names of all ministries and people have been changed to protect the innocent, but especially the guilty.