Today’s Readings Isaiah 23,24; 1 Tim 3:1-13
I once went on a week-long leadership course where each of the participants was asked to nominate their hero – the leader that they would like to model themselves on. The answers were many and varied, from Richard Branson to Nelson Mandella.
It seems everyone has a different idea of that it takes to be a good leader. Many people have made a lot of money from writing books and running workshops on leadership (both non-Christian and Christian) and not without good reason. Most of us have known and experienced what a difference good leadership (and not-so-good leadership) can make to an organisation, a ministry, or a family.
The bible has a lot to say about leadership, and in the passage from 1 Timothy 3 we get a detailed look at biblical leadership.
The character of a Christian leader
The list of attributes given for both overseers and Deacon’s in these verses are dominated by character attributes – faithfulness, temperance, hospitality, gentleness, self-control, sincerity – these have everything to do with character and little to do with skill.
A person may be gifted at many things: they may be clever and popular, a great orator or extremely witty, successful in business or sport or the arts. However, for leadership inside the community of believers these things are of little value if they are not underpinned by godly character springing from love (1 Cor 13)
The skill required to be a Christian leader
If I was compiling the list of skills required for a leader in the church my list would include a few not mentioned here. For example, the ability to cast a vision, emotional intelligence, the ability to manage ambiguity, strategic thinking and financial acumen.
Clearly the Lord knows a lot more about leadership than I do, for while these skills might be desirable for the complexity of modern leadership, the bible lists only two must haves.
“Must Have” Skill No.1 – They must know the truth and be able to teach (vs 2,9)
Our leaders must know their bible and be able to teach others. Casting a vision might be a great skill to learn. However if the vision is not rooted in God’s purposes for his Church found in the bible it falls well short of the mark.
“Must Have” Skill No.2 – Family Management (vs 5)
What does “managing a family well” (or being a good Dad or Mum) have to do with leadership in the church? It would seem it has everything to do with it.
The body of Christ is family. We may sometimes be structured like a business. We may occasionally borrow some concepts from the corporate world. However, at its core, the church is about family and loving, committed, faithful family relationships.
A leader in the church needs to know how to endure the challenges of disagreements and “falling outs” between family members – how to forgive and restore relationship – able to recognise the different needs and manage the diversity of ages and stages – able to be both just and merciful – able to put one’s own needs aside and self-sacrificially love others – just as successful fathers and mothers are called to lead their families.
A Prayer for today
Lord we thank you for the leaders in Figtree Anglican. We pray that you would be at work in their lives daily transforming them by your Spirit to become more and more like Jesus. Help them to persevere in reading your Word and make it penetrate deeply in their lives. Protect their marriages and families and help me to respect and support them as I ought.