The most common understanding of the definition of leadership is the word ‘influence’. By this definition, everyone is involved in leadership at some point and to some degree, whether as parents or older sibling at home, teachers at school or management at work.
Asfundamentally influence, leaders can influence others for either or bad. In this sense, church leadership and secular leadership are similar.
The world looks at what a person does in determining his leadership quality. God, in choosing leaders, looks at what the person is on the inside. God is interested in who we are.
The emphasis is on character. Church leadership is not a popularity contest. Elders are recognised and appointed because they exhibit the qualities spelt out in the scriptures. An elder, then, is an elder in character before he is an elder in office.
The world looks for successful men to lead; the church looks for spiritual men to lead. Successful business leadership does not necessarily translate into spiritual leadership.
One definition of character says it is doing what is right when no one is watching.Others say character involves compassion and courage and the ability to meet the demands of reality. Still others say character is the fruit of difficult life experiences. To have character, one must be ready to pay the price.
We learn in the Scriptures of only one type of character God looks for in His children. It is called ‘godliness’.
“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1Ti 4:7-8).
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1Ti 2:9-10).
Godliness is for every Christian, not only leaders. But as the ones who exercise major influence over God’s people, it is imperative that leaders must be godly.Leaders with godly character are vital for the church. We want politicians, teachers, doctors, public servants, etc. with character. It is even more so in the church.
Competenceis of course important as well.God wants competent men to serve as elders.
“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1Ti 3:4-5)
A godly person may not necessarily be competent for a work that needs to be done. For example, if the church assigns a brother to take care of maintenance matters but he knows next to nothing about how to carry his duties,it is not fair to him and the church. The same goes for other areas of service.
Now look at the flip side. If the church appoints as leaders men of dubious character, we might have a problem. Competence does not equate character. Let’s say this person struggles with honesty or covetousness. It will not be wise to involve him in the church treasury.
A leader who is both godly and competent can be trusted and relied upon to carry out the work of a shepherd of God’s people.
We can work on growing in godliness; we can grow in family likeness with our heavenly Father.Begin with the Word of God. God has given us all things to live a godly life through the knowledge of Christ(cf. 2Pe 1:3).
From the moment of our spiritual rebirth we must begin the cultivation of godliness.
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1Pe 2:1-2).
The Bible uses the term ‘give diligent’ to instruct us in our attitude and approach to the Word of God.
“Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth” (2Ti 2:15).
We do not rest content only on the fundamentals of God’s truth, but we continue in diligent study, increasing in the knowledge of Christ.
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:13-14).
Growth in knowledge is indispensable and the first step in cultivating godliness. But with every bit of knowledge we accumulate, we live it and make it a vital part of our lives.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2Pe 3:18).
We need godly leaders, men who love God with their whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Let’s help one another grow toward that.