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Don’t pick up the latest “leadership” book. Stop clicking on the articles about influence. A Pastor’s leadership must first and foremost be a response to Christ’s gospel. It must be a living out of what God has been up to inside his heart. The gospel should shape a pastor’s leadership in profound ways.

To pastor God’s bride is an enormous responsibility. As Charles Spurgeon points out, “the call to lead and preach in God’s church is given to a small number.” If you’re in that small number, thank God and plead with Him to guide you in every step. Now, let’s get down to some specifics.

6 Ways the Gospel Should Shape a Pastor’s Leadership

1. Pausing and Praying

The world says to go, go, go. Jesus showed us that our going must include pausing and praying to our Father. In the midst of His ministry, Jesus withdrew from the crowds to pause and pray. He knew that His work wasn’t His, but God’s.

So when you pause and pray, plead for wisdom. Plead for insight. Plead for direction. But more than anything else, plead for God to move and do. Pray for your people. Lift up their burdens to the throne room of God.

When the world seems overwhelmingly terrible, lift up your voice to King of kings.

Pause. Deep breath. Pray. 


2. Humble Strength

My friend, Marvin Williams said this profound thing yesterday:

Loud leaders ? Strong leaders.
Quiet leaders ? Weak leaders.

Yes and amen! The world’s standards of leadership don’t apply here.

When Paul spoke to the Roman Christians about how they are all members of a single body, the Church, he told them “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3b). You are not the cream of the crop and neither am I. We are servants of the Most High God.

Your effectiveness is not measured by how high or how low you think of yourself, but in how high or low you think of God. If you have a high view of Him, you’ll be used. If you have a low view of Him, you’ll abuse yourself and His Church.

3. Creator of Peace

Jesus said the peacemakers are the ones who are blessed. Peter told those who want to live a good life to “seek peace and pursue it, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer”(1 Peter 3:11c-12a). Pastor, you’re going to be in a lot of situations that lack peace. If you want to pastor well and if you want to follow Christ well, you must be a pursuer, seeker, maker, creator of peace. 

Point people to the One on the throne and call them to seek repentance and reconciliation. Compassionately lead people to the Prince of Peace. Be a shepherd following after the Good Shepherd. Walk with your people through the valleys and make them lie down when they’re in the pastures.

4. Approval Seeker of One

After the ascension of Jesus, the disciples went and preached about Jesus. They were arrested, beaten, arrested, beaten, and many of them were eventually killed. When they were brought before the Sanhedrin and questioned, John and Peter boldly exclaimed, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge” (Acts 4:19).

Any pastor who lives to please people will not make it over the long haul. Every Christ follower, and especially every pastor, must live to seek the approval of One. He must say what God has told him to say. He must do what God has told him to do.

He must pursue the goal of the upward calling in Christ with perseverance and focus. He must preach the gospel with compassion and passion. If you want to try to please man, man will chew you up, spit you out, break you, and keep you running for your life on a hamster wheel going nowhere.

5. Truthful Love

When the Word became flesh, He was full of grace and truth. Now, let’s be clear: we’re not God. We’re not going to be the perfect manifestation of grace and truth. But you know what we can be? We can be pastors who strive to do everything in truth and in love.

At the end of the day, our calling is to serve and lead people.

We tell people hard truths because we love them.

6. Commissioned Reconciliation

Go. Make. Baptize. Teach. Who? Every tribe, tongue, nation (ethnos). This commission informs global missions, no doubt. But it also informs the local mission of every church. Why did Paul get gritty with Peter? When his Jewish friends came to town, Peter started getting squirrely around his Gentile friends(?).

This shouldn’t be news, but there was a dividing wall between man and God and between man and man. But when Jesus gave Himself on the cross, the dividing wall of hostility was overthrown. The veil was torn. The temple was no longer a building, but it was building to become a people – a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (ethnos).

Read the whole of Ephesians 2 and come back (don’t stop at v. 10).

The Church is a people of diversity. The first-century church was the first multi-ethnic church. We are called to be a reconciled people both to God and each other.

The gospel of Christ, the power of God, is the hope of the world. We are the messengers of that hope, both in word and deed.

Fight the Good Fight, Friend

Keep going. What you do matters. God is at work. His Word never returns void. Keep going. Preach. Lead. Bring people together.

Pause. Deep breath. Pray. 


Brandon Kelley serves at a fast-growing church plant in Batavia, Ohio (east side of Cincinnati) called The Crossing in the role of Outreach & Communications Pastor. He loves to learn and write about preaching and leadership. Connect with him on Twitter.

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