Rev. E. Anderson
CHIEF CHARACTERISTICS OF CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP
Beside the quality leadership required in the family and home, of all leadership that is represented in human life and service possibly the greatest is to be revealed in the Christian Church. This being the case, it is vital that it be understood what is meant by Christian leadership and what are the chief characteristics that should be present in all those who are personally involved in this divine and major vocation.
Here are a number of things to consider and contemplate in this connection to help those aspiring to leadership and those who are already involved in this supreme calling.
1/. THEY MUST KNOW A PERSONAL REVELATION OF AND A RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
Just as each disciple and apostle of Christ knew an individual experience of Christ for them and also built up a personal association with Him that was special, so should it be so with all those who claim this honoured position in this role today. All of Christ’s leaders are chosen by Him and He comes not only to be the Saviour but to make Himself real and dynamic to and in them. Christianity is Christ making himself known to individuals. Paul speaks in Galatians of Christ revealing himself to, in and through Him. Such was the closeness of fellowship and connection that he could say: ‘Christ liveth in me and the life I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’- 2: 20. Before anyone can be a leader of and for Christ they must have an encounter with Him and from such stems a dynamic accord that it becomes obvious that Christ has invaded and taken control of life. How can a leader really represent somebody or something he doesn’t really know? The priority above all is to know Him and from that knowledge other things, especially leadership become evident.
2/. THEY MUST POSSESS A CONVICTION OF DIVINE CALL AND COMMISSION
Those who are in the front line with and for Christ giving directive and inspiration must have a sure, spiritual awareness birthed and developed by Christ that they are being and doing what He has summoned. Christ personally prepares those whom He would have head and lead His work and those who serve in this capacity are deeply conscious of His design and destiny on their lives and ministries. He imparts a divine knowledge of what He has determined of them. Paul not only prayed on his conversion ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ The reply came with absolute certainty – ‘Go into the city and it shall be told you’- Acts 9: 6, 7. He who is altogether wise and Head of the whole Christian community knows where to place His leaders and give the appropriate directions etc. Those who are His leaders are responsible to Him to own and to act according to His commission.
3/. THEY MUST LIVE UNDER THE DISCIPLINES OF CHRIST
Besides being a leader everyone is essentially a disciple of Christ and every leader must make certain that they are fully aware of His disciplines and that they are primary feature in their own life and work. Every leader must be taught and trained by Christ and they are familiar with His regulations and expectations regarding life. He expects every leader to be a good disciplinarian with regard to what is required. One of the directives He gave to the men He left to lead Hiss Church was that they should ‘make disciples of all nations and teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you’ – Matthew 28: 19,20. For them to be able to do this effectively they must be role models with respect to obedience to His instructions.
4/. THEY MUST MANIFEST THE QUALITY DISPOSITION OF CHRIST
Christ possessed a unique nature that was manifested in a beautiful disposition that caused people to be switched on to Him. Although He was God manifest in flesh yet He had the attractiveness that drew people to Him. He was not harsh, brutal and hard but loving, kind and humble, an individual that cared and was infinitely committed to the well being of others. The Gospels present Him in a wonderful light showing that He loved humanity. The great driving force of His being was love and this comes out continually in His identification with people. His was mainly a leadership of love and this has to be reflected in all those called to represent Him. Paul highlighted this factor when he said: ‘the love of Christ constraineth us’ – 2 Corinthians 5: 14. Such love Christ caused Him to be a servant and to minister to others – see John 13: 1-17; Mark 10: 45.
5/. THEY MUST DEMONSTRATE THE CAPACITY TO LEAD
Leadership is a gift from Christ and leaders possess the ability not only to lead by example but to give positive direction and counsel to others that increases their gift and qualities and suits them for effectual service. Leaders have the love and know how to bring the best out in others and they welcome the wealth of grace and gift in those over them leading the way. The leadership is not forced or imposed but easily occurs because of the good nature and will of the leaders. They are happy and willing to be guided by meaningful oversight.
6/. THEY MUST WORK UNITEDLY WITH OTHER LEADERS
Leadership is not individualistic but cooperative with other people of like calling and standing. Every leader requires the watchful care, insight and attention of other leaders so that he and his work are safeguarded. No leader is an island to himself or a lone ranger, rather there must be the will to actively engage in dialogue with others of similar designation so that all are mutually profited. Leaders together in Christ can do such more when they are bonded and learn from each other for the benefit of Christ’s kingdom and His glory.
7/. THEY MUST SEE VISION FULFILLED
Christian leaders must know Christ’s vision for themselves and for the work He has called them to do and to make sure that such is brought to pass. That is what they are responsible for and to which He will hold them accountable. He is personally able to furnish particularly what He desires to be wrought though each one and so each leader must go to Him for revelation and instructions. When the leadership has run its course each should be able to say – ‘I have finished the work you have given me to do’, like Christ – John 17: 4. See Paul’s testimony – 2 Timothy 4: 7.
These things being present as chief characteristics ensure the inevitable success of such leaders. Christ desires that these be the type of people that will be wholly involved with Him in the blessing and growth of His Church.
If you are a Christian leader make sure that you are conforming to Christ’s standards and by His grace and power you can attain to His demands.
If you are not a Christian leader pray that the Lord will raise up such qualified people and give them your unqualified support in all things and at all times.