Reflections on Christian Leadership
How would you describe leadership in our faith? What does it look and sound like? (The quick answer is Jesus; at
times he seems so far above us, we ask what does it look like for us?) In a recent meeting of some people working
hard to be leaders in our church, many asked why it is often so difficult to encourage and develop good leaders in
the church. Paul writes in II Timothy, “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;
for God did not give us the spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self-discipline. Do not be
ashamed then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace… Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit.” II Timothy 1:6-9a, 13-14 When I look through the scriptures, a strong realization comes through that God holds leaders accountable for their work. It’s very challenging; the standards are high. The people who upset Jesus the most, the ones he was most critical of, were the leaders. What’s important isn’t just what we “do,” but also why we do it, our motivations (I Corinthians 13). So no wonder many of us may be reluctant at times to step forward. There are plenty of reasons we hesitate getting involved, giving our all, and staying committed to fulfilling our promises. And yet in some way, as believers in Christ, God calls us to be aware that we are, all of us, uniquely gifted in some small or large way to provide leadership in faith through our fellowship together. We all have God’s love to share, which is most empowering.
We may feel under-appreciated, or even face constant criticism and lots of fault finding; remembering how much
God loves us provides the help and encouragement we need in building on the strengths we have. God’s love provides
a willingness to engage with people new to us, and to try new solutions. God’s Word gives us great strength.
When we fall short or “fail” at something, in Christ by grace we learn, grow, and mature from it. We trust God, believing that a resurrection comes even from betrayal and crucifixion, the way it did for the Disciples. Compassion teaches us that many people today are just down right heart broken and depressed. We can’t let someone’s depression or fears define our lives or the fellowship we share. With Christ at the center, we respond with real love, care and friendship, not letting one or a handful of people define who we are and what we do. The Church’s one foundation is Jesus, God’s love is central to our lives. We have wonderful leaders and members in Glossbrenner; the truth is also that everyone, all of us, also have our faults and sins. Criticism in thankless jobs, and the emotional heartache in disappointments that might even grow into arguments, are what Paul was writing about to Timothy and the Corinthians. So we are both challenged and very blessed to be invited to live by grace, while setting high standards that are built not on our accomplishments, but upon God’s generosity, God’s grace. Faith calls upon us all to take on responsibility without being overly controlling and demanding. We don’t “own” what we do; especially through baptism, our lives and the work in ministry we
share belong first to God.
Living Our Faith
When we think of good leadership, we do turn to Jesus and see a man who didn’t just give out a lot of orders, or
filled a to do list or wanted to “do” a lot. Yet he accomplished more than any other human being because he spent
time in prayer, devotions and scripture, and took time to listen and ask good questions. He spent a lot of time in enriching fellowship. We need to do the same, set the same priorities. We need the same commitment from all our
church leaders and all of our members too. It’s vital that meetings begin with a brief devotion, not just a prayer, but
also a word from God that reflects our devotional lives. This dynamic was an essential part of the early UB Church
and the Methodists; they made time for devotions, and it’s more vital for us today. Many of you know my story and
are probably tired of hearing; devotions literally saved my life. God wants us all to share in that gift.
I was with a group of people recently as we discussed our faith and fellowship, one person remarked, “It’s all about
the relationships.” Wow! I felt great; the lessons we’ve been sharing and trying to lift up in Disciple Bible Study, Stephen Ministry, and many, many other places like Sunday School and Bible study are being heard. It remains a great challenge to integrate our understanding into life. Yet we can grow and learn from mistakes and our sins; the misfit disciples did and were willing to be open to God’s possibilities as they trusted in God’s love and forgiveness. So with these thoughts and prayerful concerns in my mind and heart this fall, I put together a list that I share below. Please give me your feedback and thoughts. How can we strengthen our faith together?
Characteristics of Christian Leadership
Accept the gift of God’s Love and Forgiveness, keep it central to everything
Daily Time of Prayer and Devotions in the Word; Try to Hear and See through God’s Eyes
Believe and Live in Christ, Heaven, and the Resurrection
Intentional Sharing in Fellowship with other Christians; we cannot do this alone
Taking risks of heart and mind trusting God to help you and others grow
Remember always that our lives and the lives of the church belong first to God, not us
It doesn’t belong to any one family or group (including the Andermans)
Enter into what God is doing, don’t try to do it yourself and never all by yourself
Live in life-long learning, be open in creative awareness, always listening, ask lots of
questions (without interrogating) Always be prepared to be vulnerable in wise, careful ways; set healthy boundaries
What would you add to the list? One thing is certain about leadership today; the understanding of what it is has evolved dramatically over the last forty years. It is far less about controlling or dominating others as it was in the past. Yet some characteristics of leadership are timeless in faith, and require that we all aspire to them. Remember too, we can’t rely on our heritage in saying that just because our family took part, somehow we are entitled to status, or power, or control (Here again, I think of my own Anderman family). It’s all about God’s grace, love and generosity. Fall is here, I think of a recent devotion, “You were all called to travel the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.” Ephesians 4:4 Thank you all for your faithfulness; I pray and trust in the ways God will lead us all in the coming year. Thanks for reading; feel free to share your thoughts with me, and your faithful leadership in our fellowship. May we guard and share the good treasure entrusted to us, with the help of the Holy Spirit. – Tim