Several days ago I came across this quote by the late great A.W. Tozer, “A man highly honored today can be looked upon with scorn tomorrow.” After reading it, two thoughts came to my mind. The first was the reality our Lord Jesus faced. Literally, in one moment the crowds were clamoring for His healing touch, but in the days to follow would cry out for Him to be crucified. The second thought was the reality of Christian leadership and how quickly a leader can go from loved to despised, often because of a single decision.
As leaders, it is often easier to sound the alarm of retreat, instead of leading through tough situations. However, some of us are wired to simply plow through when leadership gets tough, not considering the people that are affected by our leadership. The reality is, leadership is hard at times, complex, and messy; but, some one has to lead.
1 Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” The idea of ruling refers to the act of leadership—not as a dictator—but as one exercising authority in a gracious manner. As we read through 1 Timothy, we see the “office” of the elder/pastor as one that takes qualified men whose lifestyle backs the function this role demands. The elder/pastor is called to lead the church with directing the affairs of the local body.
Pastors are called to lead! We can’t hand over leadership to the biggest giver in the church or succumb to the pressure of a couple of key people in the body who desire to see things done their way. For some of us this means breaking free from the fear of man, so that we can effectively lead to the glory of God. Here are some ways you can lead for the glory of God.
1. Don’t be afraid to change.
If resources were not a factor, what are the things you would change in your church tomorrow? Maybe it is something as small as removing the sentimental broken table in the foyer that has been there for years or removing a toxic staff member. Yes, we should be thoughtful, tactful and resourceful when making change, but change needs to be made. Many times we know what needs to change, but fear can hinder us from pulling he proverbial trigger. Leading means making decisions and the possibility those decisions will not always be liked. However, if God has called you to lead, then lead with the compassion and grace found in Christ.
2. Confront people when needed.
I used to despise confrontation. I wrongly believed that to truly have peace was to never confront issues. In order to have clarity and peace, issues and people need to be lovingly confronted. Instead of allowing things to fester and brew, go straight to the source. I have stopped allowing people to say “some people are saying.” Instantly my next words to them are, “Who are the some people? Let’s go talk to them now.” When Paul and Barnabas had an issue with certain brothers, they confronted them in love. As we see in Acts 15, this confrontation brought peace and clarity for the entire church.
3. Build a team.
Ministry is better when the load is shared. One of our goals as a church is to develop and train more small group leaders. Our small group leaders help us not only evangelize, but care for members as well. As we build teams, the church becomes stronger and people are cared for. My desire as a leader is to see the body equipped for the work of the ministry.
4. Lead in prayer.
Pastor Michael Catt of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia shared with me recently that the leader of the prayer ministry needs to be the pastor. Now, we are not talking about logistics and times of prayer, but the pastor leading the church to pray and seek God. What if the greatest change we could lead in, is to become a people of prayer. Instead of another business meeting, what if we gathered the church to seek God for spiritual awakening, provision for missions or revival in our city.
Pastor, don’t be afraid to lead. Our churches depend on leadership from those God has called to lead. So, step up and lead well.