Remembering The Call Of A Leader
August 18, 2007, 8:32 pm
Filed under: leadership

What is a Christian leader? How can we judge the success or failure of a leader? The gospel itself gives us the standard for Christian ministry, and it often is found to be a different standard than we often use. As much as the gospel is in us, as much as we are living it out, we will be able to lead others. In his book, The Cross and Christian Ministry, D.A. Carson reminds us of the proper way to view leadership and to gauge our success or failure :

Those of us who want to be leaders in the church today, then, must begin by recognizing that there is no special, elitist qualification. This observation is entirely in line with the lists of qualifications for leadership given elsewhere in the New Testament. For example, when Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 sets out the qualifications for an overseer, the most remarkable feature of the list is that it is unremarkable. It contains nothing about intelligence, decisiveness, drive, wealth, power. Almost everything on the list is elsewhere in the New Testament required of all believers…
…So what we must recognize is that the demands of Christian leadership do not set a Christian apart into exclusive and elitist categories where certain new rules and privileges apply. Rather, Christian leadership demands a focus of the kinds of characteristics and virtues that ought to be present in Christians everywhere. That is precisely what makes it possible for Christian leaders to serve as models, as well as teachers, in the church of God.
What it means to be a servant of Christ is to be obligated to promote the gospel by word and example, the gospel of the crucified Messiah. That is absolutely fundamental. There is no valid Christian leadership that does not throb with this mandate. We must repent of our endless fascination for “leadership” that smacks much more of hierarchical models (I am the boss, and, for all below me on the ladder, what I say goes) or of democratic models (give the people what they want; take another poll, scratch where they itch). All valid Christian leadership, however varied its style, however diverse its functions, must begin with this fundamental recognition : Christian leaders have been entrusted with the gospel, the secret things of God that have been hidden in ages past but that are now proclaimed, by their ministry, to men and women everywhere. Moreover, they must beware of politely assuming such a stance, while their real interest lies elsewhere. This will not do. The servants of Christ have a fundamental charge laid on them : They have been entrusted with the gospel, and all their service turns on making that gospel known and on encouraging the people of God, by word, example, and discipline, to live it out.

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