THE ANATOMY OF A CHRISTIAN LEADER
Author Jim Collins has written several popular books related to leadership in the business world. The first of his oft-referenced works was published in 1994 and entitled, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Well, just as companies should be “built to last”, Christian leaders must be built to last! Long-haul Christian leaders are a vital need in the 21st century church. So, what does it take to do more than just survive in ministry leadership? What does it take to thrive long term in this spiritual calling?
Anatomy is the branch of science concerned with bodily structure. So, what does the anatomy of a resilient and productive Christian leader who is “built to last” look like?
You have to have the heart for it— Just as the physical heart is unarguably the most indispensable organ in the body, likewise, for a Christian leader, a personal and demonstrable love for Jesus, His Church and a lost world is the core and cornerstone of being built to last. The first and greatest commandment is often quoted and too seldom obeyed. It is not enough to be ambitious and goal-oriented. Unfeigned and heartfelt love is the “heart of the matter.”
You have to have the head for it… There is both an objective and a subjective aspect to this. The subjective side is reflected in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “… we take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” The objective side is reflected in Paul’s charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourself approved… rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” A Bible education, whether formal or devotional, is critically important. Both would be most helpful for longevity.
You have to have the hands for it– Skills for ministry leadership are best learned initially by an internship and then, as you mature, by maintaining the humility to be perpetually mentored as a leader. Being a lifelong learner of ministry skills through books, workshops, conferences, podcasts or personal coaching is a priority commitment for the leader who is built to last.
You have to have the backbone for it– Paul charged timid Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power…” He is not talking about natural power; he is talking about supernatural power. He is not talking about self-confidence; he is talking about God-confidence. The long-haul Christian leader must be confrontational, while balancing grace and truth, speaking the truth in love, whether standing in front of a large group or one-on-one.
You have to have the stomach for it– In this generation of global terrorism and the persecution of the church, the rise of militant atheism and the cultural shunning of absolute truth, the defection of and disappointment in recognized Christian leaders, the easy-believe-ism and shallowness of professing Christians…it takes a cast-iron stomach to endure.
There may be more, but if you at least have the heart, head, hands, backbone and stomach for Christian leadership, you will thrive!