Summary: God can use people with or without natural ability and proper background. God often chooses to work with raw material. He prepares and empowers those He chooses to do His work. He does not need to use people who took the part or who are already popular.
Introduction: ‘We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Ephesians 2: 10)
God can use people with or without the natural ability and proper background. God can, and often chooses to, work with raw material. God prepares and empowers those He chooses to do His work so He does not need to call people into leadership who have the natural drive, training, or good models of leadership in their background. He does not need to use people who took the part or who are already popular. "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Corinthians 1: 26 - 27) The disciples, who went on to be founding leaders of the church, were fishermen and tax-collectors by trade. They were not highly educated or from influential families. Some had strong, driven personalities but others did not.
* Be careful not to limit God. Take Him at His word when He says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12: 9).
God prepares those He calls. The disciples spent three years with Jesus to prepare them to be the early leaders of the church but even still, before they were to go out on their own, they had to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them in power. God uses life experiences to mold and shape leaders. God uses life experiences to develop perspectives and passions essential to the capacity of leadership to which He calls.
* Be careful not to short-circuit this preparation time due to impatience. God’s ways and timing are best.
God equips those He calls. God will use the way He designed people and their spiritual gifting to steer them into what type of leader they should be.
What is leadership?
Leadership is exercising true authority (in Christ)
• Expertise, facility, capacity – insight in to the things of God
• A consequence of obedience and integrity
• Used to build people up, to mend them, to serve them
• Evidenced by the conditions of the disciples
What are the characteristics of Christian leadership?
1. Intimacy with Christ
The first and most important thing Christian leaders need to do is develop a strong and intimate relationship with God. In an article by Gordon MacDonald he says, “the forming of the soul that it might be a dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader”. Developing this intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and reflective Bible study is vital if Christian leaders are going to be all they can be in God.
We see that Jesus modeled this drawing away to a solitary place to connect with His heavenly Father in prayer. In Mark 1:35 we see that He did this alone and in Mark 6:35 he called the disciples to draw away from the pressing crowds. As Christian leaders we need to follow Jesus example to make sure we come aside from the business of life and ministry to make our connection with the Father. As we do, we find that our relationship with God grows and we allow Him to speak to us. We can also learn from Scripture and receive guidance on how He wants us to lead the people we are overseeing. I believe this time alone with God is vital for our growth, seeking direction and for our long term survival of the pressures of ministry brings.
2. Spirit-Driven and Passionate
Jesus lived his life and did everything he did with a clear sense of purpose and thus was Spirit-driven (Mark 1: 35-39; Luke 4: 43; 5: 32). He was preoccupied with the purpose with which his Father had sent him into the world – that was his passion or top priority (John 4: 31-34). His vision was sharp (not blurred), goal was clear and he never allowed anything to distract him from the goal (Luke 12: 13-14; 13: 31-32). He was very clear in communicating the purpose with which he chose his disciples (Matt. 4: 18-19; Mark 1: 16-17; 3: 13-14). He reiterated his purpose even before he ascended into heaven after his resurrection (Matt. 28: 16-20; Acts 1: 7-8). When they received the Holy Spirit and began their ministry, we notice that they followed the example of their master and lived a focused and Spirit-driven life. They did not allow anything, including the good things in the ministry to distract them from the main thing, which was their top priority (see Acts 2: 32-41, 47b; 3: 11-16 and 19-20; 4: 1-12; 5: 41-6: 7). The apostles did not deviate from their priorities – they learnt from their master the principle of keeping the main thing(s), the main thing(s). Paul also demonstrates for us that this is a key ingredient in successful Christian leadership. He was very sharply focused, was driven by a clear sense of purpose, both in life and ministry, pursued his goal with perseverance, and finished his race (see 1 Cor. 9: 15-27; Gal. 2: 1-10; Phil. 3: 7-14; 2 Tim. 3: 10-11; 4: 1-8). This is the pattern we should follow and inspire others to emulate us.