Sunday, August 14, 2011

Important Characteristics of a Leader (1)

by Rev. James Wong

Essentially the church council members are the leaders of the church, led by the pastor and the chairman. There are distinctive characteristics for church leadership. Here are the fundamentals.

1. A leader must first of all be a follower of Jesus Christ. The model of Christian leadership is based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. This theological understanding of leadership is very different with secular leadership in terms of purpose and function. The call of Jesus was “Follow me …” (Matthew 4:22-23, Mark 8:34). Paul said, “Imitate me just as I imitate Christ …” (1 Corinthians 11:1). To imitate is more than just following Christ from behind. It means to emulate Christ in words and deeds in living one’s life. Those who are serving in leadership can be discouraged easily in the face of difficulties or inconvenience if their point of reference is something else rather than Jesus Christ. The process of learning, unlearning and relearning is a life long commitment of following Christ so that we have the mind of Christ.

2. A leader’s motive is to serve and give like Jesus did. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). Christian leadership is about serving and giving oneself to others to advance the Kingdom of God. It is not about glory but responsibilities. It is not about position but of servant hood. It is not about gain but sacrifice. A leader will not be discouraged or disillusioned easily if his purpose is to serve and give without expecting anything in return. There are a lot of wounded leaders in the Christian ministry because of wrong expectations. If a leader’s purpose is to serve, to give and to bless others without expecting anything in return, he cannot be easily hurt. Leaders who are too concerned with the treatment they receive among those they serve will not last long.

3. A leader must have a submissive spirit. James 4:6 says, "… God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” and 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." This submissive spirit involves being submissive to God and also being submissive to the leadership and to each other. Submissiveness helps a leader to have a humble spirit to enable him to change his ways and follow Christ’s model of leadership. Whereas submissiveness to higher authority promotes unity and harmony in the organizational structure of the church. For the humble, criticism is an opportunity for growth. For the proud, criticism is an offence. A proud person will never have a submissive spirit. We are humbled by Jesus’ servant attitude.

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