A Key to Effective Leadership

The function and effectiveness of the church seems to be heavily dependent on leadership. Whether the state of a church is spiritually healthy and vital or spiritually poor and bogged down in apostasy, it can almost always be reflected by the state of the leadership. It’s through the leadership that God seems to predominantly guide and direct the life of the church. Clearly He can speak to and guide the church through others, but ultimately the church’s spiritual oversight is given to the leadership and God clearly says He will hold them to account for that.

So, those who feel called by God to leadership within the church have a massive responsibility to not only allow God to mature their faith and develop their gift of leadership, but do all they can to help shepherd and watch over the people God has placed in their care.

Moses’ leadership style challenged

This leads me to reflecting on the account of Jethro challenging Moses’ leadership approach in Exodus 18. I believe this passage highlights one of the more effective approaches to leadership. It’s an approach that will not only enable us to lead more effectively, but also to better shepherd those in our care.

I don’t know about you, but I think leading thousands of people out of the powerful nation of Egypt highlights great leadership by Moses. Clearly it was by God’s hand alone that the Israelites were freed from Egypt, but it was Moses who responded to God’s call to be used by God to lead them out. In doing so you would think Moses had his leadership skills pretty well oiled. However like any effective leader, or Christian, one must always be ready to learn how to live for and serve God more effectively.

Moses was inundated all day and every day with people coming to him wanting to inquire of God, to have disputes settled and have the statutes of God revealed to them (Ex18:15-16). This would drive anyone over the edge! Jethro saw this and challenged Moses to adopt a different strategy. Jethro told Moses he can not do this by himself and that he should choose suitable people to train up to deal with the smaller matters whilst Moses take care of the larger issues. The qualifications for these leaders were to fear God, be trustworthy and hate bribery (Ex 18:21).

Despite Moses being the one called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt, God chose to use Moses’ father-in-law, to teach Moses one of the key lessons to effective leadership – training and empowering others to lead. We should always be ready to discern God’s quiet voice as its guidance can sometimes come from the most unlikely sources. Whilst we are always to test everything against scripture, we have many great resources to help equip us and mature us in our faith.

Moses humbly took Jethro’s advice and adopted the more effective approach to leading.

Applying Jethro’s advice

There are many critical aspects to godly leadership – a close relationship with God whilst also fearing Him, honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, conviction, courage, boldness and humility.  Yet for us to be effective leaders we need to be willing to accept we can’t do it all on our own. We need help – firstly from God, but also from those trusted ones around us. Godly leadership is about empowering and inspiring others to mature in their relationship with God. That is most effectively done by empowering and equipping your leadership team who in turn influence those around them. This will be far more effective then trying to influence everyone yourself.

Personally I think too much emphasis and pressure is placed on the lead pastor of a church to feed everyone’s needs.  I think a lead pastor is more effective when he spends the bulk of his time developing his leadership team so that through them he can better support and feed the flock.

Given the massive responsibility of the leadership team, they need to do what they can to build up, inspire, equip and hold each other accountable. The leadership group needs to make time to invest into and protect one another otherwise like Moses they will burn out trying to solve every little problem.

Beware not to be seduced by talent

Let’s also not forget the criteria by which Moses was to choose the potential leaders – trust worthiness, a fear of God and a hatred of bribery. In other words, it one’s character and spiritual maturity that matters most, not how talented or passionate they may be. May we never fall into the trap of being seduced by talents when it comes to building a leadership team. Talent without godly character is a catalyst for pride to devastate the soul and effectiveness of the leadership team.

Where ever we serve God, may we never forget to humble ourselves before Him each day and remember without the empowering work of His Spirit within our lives and constant prayer, we have no hope of producing fruit for His kingdom and serving the church effectively.

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4 responses to “A Key to Effective Leadership

  1. Soli Deo Gloria

    Stu,
    Interesting that you should choose Moses as your model. He had a charge of at least 600,000, and many think the total exceeded 2,000,000.

    The conversions recorded in the New Testament indicate numbers much smaller than this scattered into the world. Why is it, do you think, that all those people were converted in Jerusalem, and ended up being scattered? No mega church there.

    The model given for leadership is shepherd, with the shepherd knowing the sheep, and feeding the sheep. The Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the Word to build up his flocks.

    As for having one man with talent? Give me that any day over several with little. CH Spurgeon held a relatively large congregation in Victorian London. Interestingly, he did not attribute it to his own talent of (considerable) abilities, but to prayer meeting. Whilst Spurgeon preached the gospel, there were many many people praying for Gods blessing. And his influence extended far and wide, including the opening of many missions in places where people feared to go. And, of course, you know of Spurgeons College, for the training of men for the ministry (in fact you might be interested in reading his excellent little book entitled ‘Lectures to my Students’.

    There are many lessons you can take from Moses life and ministry, but he is unique, exceptional, and I don’t recall him being used as a model of ministry by the Apostles.

    If I am not mistaken, your situation (like the majority of church situations) is one where a faithful shepherd is most appropriate rather than a superhero looking after the hordes. Of course if your aspiration is to set the foundations of a mega church, then your principles, method and personnel will be very different from the ones that I understand, have benefitted from, and commend to you.

    • Hi SDG,

      I like how you make the point that we are to shepherd others through the preaching and teaching of the Word. I still think the lead pastor can better shepherd the church by equipping other leaders whilst still taking responsibility for teaching and overseeing the spiritual health of the church. I think in any church no matter its size it’s pastured and shepherded predominantly through the small groups. Whilst we always need the teaching of the Word at church services, within small groups is where the rubber hits the road in building stronger relationships whereby we can better support and build each other up in Christ. Given this, one area whereby the lead pastor needs to invest into is the small group leaders development. Then there are the other key ministries where there are people watching over others. All these trained leaders are then better equipped to teach other future leaders. It’s a cascade effect.

      Let’s take Jesus, who is the greatest leader of all, as an example. He taught the masses, helped those He could but invested the majority of His time teaching and equipping His disciples so that they could go and lead more effectively. He even said that with the aid of the Holy Spirit, they would have a much greater impact then He would, given He was limited by being in one place at one time. Jesus knew the secret to spreading the Gospel and impacting people’s lives more, was to equip leaders to do so. We see Paul did this also with people like Timothy.

      In saying all this I am not suggesting the lead pastor detaches himself from the bulk of the church. He needs, to some degree, to develop relationships with church members so that he can better know his audience and engage with them when preaching and ensuring God’s Word is effectively fed to them. This is one reason why I am in favour of smaller churches as opposed to the “Mega Church.” However, I think he is to focus more of his energy in developing the leaders around him.

      As far as the place of the Mega church goes, I personally think it’s more effective to keep churches smaller (up to 200) and plant more of them. Two reasons for this are 1) you can better spread and equip people in the community with the Gospel (as you pointed out with what happened with the converted in Jerusalem – many scattered to take the Word to unchurched regions) and 2) I think you take more ownership and responsibility of the church given you are more likely to engage and develop relationships with a greater portion of the church membership.

      • Soli Deo Gloria

        Hi Stu,

        The fundamental difference between us is, I think, that my understanding of how we arrive at our understanding of such matters as church leadership is to exhaust what the Scriptures say, and how they inter-relate first and foremost. I think your approach is to take ideas from Christian leaders you respect and trust, and check that this appears to be in line with what the Scriptures teach.

        The reason for my approach, is because God has given us His very thoughts, His Wisdom, and His guidance for everything necessary to us. When He gave us His word, He had in mind the needs of His ENTIRE Church in every age and every place. Many are tempted to think that the Bible is old, and was given in a very different situation to ours, and therefore needs to be supplemented to meets our own particular modern context. My reply to this is that this view belittles God as someone who is short-sighted and could not anticipate the need of ALL His people. I say, God’s word is SUFFICIENT for all things essential to our faith and life as His called out people.

        I think small groups for personal growth and development are readily identifiable in the NT churches. However, your emphasis on training leaders for such groups seems to be somewhat superimposed on this. There are well defined church offices described with clear qualifications in the NT. With the best will in the world, as soon as you make up a new category ‘small group leader’, ‘sunday school superintendent’ etc, you are straying away from a firm and clear foundation. The temptation is that such appointments get a sense of their own importance that may puff them up, and become the cause of endless trouble. God is very wise you know in keeping things very simple for us, and by and large we need elders and deacons (the qualifications are set out for all to see, and the church RECOGNISES such men. There is great wisdom therefore in trusting in the sufficiency of Scripture over and above the changing ‘best practice’ of the best of men in our own time.

  2. Soli deo gloria

    In looking for a model of the heart and spirit of God honouring and appointed ministry / leadership, I think there is no better place to start than here:

    2 Cor 2v 17, and 2 Cor 3, and 2 Cor 4.

    This cuts to the heart of many current ills in the western church and all its boasted modern methods.

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