Robert and Maureen McQuillan write:
You’ve heard it before – when one sees premiers, prime ministers, political figures, presidents and such slammed on the news by unhappy people, a general comment is ‘Who would want to be a leader?’
Forget about governmental leaders – what about church leaders, especially senior pastors? Government leaders may be highly paid to carry responsibility and verbal attacks but most ministers aren’t. Their compensation rarely reaches even the bottom of the bar of the heavy role pastors carry.
Carry? It is often demanded, let alone expected. The notion of ministry being a specific calling from God that should be honoured is overlooked, ignored and many times disrespected.
Acts 1:25 is the first New Testament reference to such leadership and indicates that any aspect of church leadership is not to be wasted or disparaged as it had been by Judas. Similarly those who attend church should, as the Hebrews author pointed out (See below), respect the commissioned role and assist however they can. Especially in bringing joy to the leadership.
This, of course, involves each departmental leader – but more especially the lead pastor or pastors.
The sad thing in many churches is that not many attendees realise the weight of responsibility that ministers carry. Dan Black (Dan Black on Leadership blogger) wrote, ‘The demand of leadership can also bear heavily on leaders’ shoulders. This is because leading requires energy, effort and time. Leadership takes and demands a lot.’
Dictionaries define leadership as ‘the ability to lead, the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group despite heavy opposition. Synonyms: administration, management, directorship, control, governorship, stewardship.’
As churches grow, they must of necessity have several leaders with departmental responsibilities but the senior pastor – or ‘lead pastor’ to be contemporaneous(!) – carries the heaviest weight of all. He (or she or both if dual leadership) must demonstrate…
- Inner knowledge of God’s trustable promises
- Genuine care for the people
- Awareness of the times
- Sensitivity to satanic opposition and attacks, on themselves, attendees and staff
- Broad shoulders as far as criticism is concerned
- The supernatural of the Spirit
- An expectation of the Spirit moving in meetings
- Salvation-orientation for the unsaved in their locale and mission-mindedness for overseas
- Openness to church members with meaningful good suggestions for church development
- A good business mind – or engaging sound business-mind colleagues
- Responsibility in decision-making relative to their God-given authority.
Church leadership – whether lead pastoring or departmental leading – is, as those committed to such sacrificial roles know, not to be taken lightly, any more than the decision to get married, change career, purchase a new car or home, move state and such.
Along with the acceptance of the authority granted comes the responsibility aspect…responsibility to the congregation, to oneself and to God himself. Judgment Day means accountability unveiled!
The writer of Hebrews had this to command re honouring church leadership – ‘Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?’ (Hebrews 13:17 Message).
What a direction!
Church members ought to accept individual responsibility to assist in their church’s development – praying, regular attendance, giving, fellowshipping with other members and demonstrating genuine care, recognising and embracing good policies, offering what we call their ‘3Ts’ – talents, time and treasure, reaching out to the unsaved and inviting new people (especially unsaved) to church.
In so doing they assist the pastor, easing the leader’s burden for the flock and helping to bring him (or her or both) much joy.
And, in keeping with a meaningful concrete decision to see the church grow, if there are any areas of misunderstanding about policy, vision or planned events, they should be brought to the leader(s) respectively and in genuine caring not criticism.
Paul’s clear direction in 1 Timothy 5:19 is: ‘Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.’ Good advice – for everyone’s sake and the local church itself.
The other side of this is that leadership must be open to – especially if they have already asked church members to offer their talents or make suggestions regarding the church’s future and development is – hearing what people are saying!
There are times, unfortunately, that we hear of good people who have left churches because in responding to the challenge of offering their time, talents and good balanced God-originated suggestions, they have been knocked back. Often the response from ‘upper leadership’ has been along the lines of…
- ‘Oh, we’re not ready for that’
- ‘You couldn’t achieve that’
- ‘That’s too far out’
- ‘Sounds good but not in our plans, our vision’
- ‘Don’t think we can afford to do that.’
The interesting thing is that when they settle into another church their ideas and suggestions are often welcomed and prove so productive to that church and beneficial to that leadership.
Leaders expect people to listen to them – but it works both ways!
Seven is a sacred number used about 600 times in scripture! It indicates perfection and completeness. Seven times Revelation (Message) challenges ‘Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches’ (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3: 6, 13, 22).
Today there is a fresh awakening of spiritual gifts in church circles – so many Christians are desiring to take a step upwards and be used by God to build their church, And to move in the supernatural of the Spirit as they dare to go beyond their comfort zone.
Prophetic words are not meant to come through prophets or lead ministers alone but anyone who has built a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit can flow in this gift. Consequentially there are times when the wind of the Spirit blows through the most unlikely person and his (or her) suggestion.
Every church needs leaders – established and new blood (even those yet to gain experience!). Paul said in verse 14 of 1 Corinthians 12 (the great chapter on spiritual gifts and church body function), ‘I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.’
Leadership and all church members – let’s work together to strengthen our local church as a strong community witness that is full of life and where things happen for the glory of God.
After all, whatever our position in the church, ‘paid or unpaid’ we are all volunteers!