Summary: Characteristics of an effective leader

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Leadership - by Grant S. Sisson



We’ve had a great Sunday morning. It is not often that a church’s leadership structure so dramatically changes in such a brief time as ours has at Countryside. Years ago when the oil patch went belly up there was a mass migration out of this area, and because our organization rules require three elders and we no longer had three men qualified we went to the Board of Directors style of organization. As we have discussed before, we will still technically have a Board only because it is required by the current Louisiana State laws for all non-profit organizations, but it will no longer be the way that we conduct church affairs; we will look to our new eldership (Dick Hainey, George Boies, and Rick Turner,) and our new deacons (Bobby Addison, Charlie Harper, Don Crosslin and Ken Wilkes) for direction in matters of church leadership.

Since this is such a key milestone in the history of Countryside, I want to take a few moments this morning to discuss leadership. It would seem that leadership would be pretty simple to understand since all organizations have them and we are familiar with the concept in the world we live in, but in reality leadership is quite complex. It is easy to define but hard to describe; it is paradoxical in nature because leaders are expected both to be humble enough to put their heads down to do the down and dirty work, but also have enough of that “head in the clouds” mentality to cast a vision for the future that is the key to forward progress. They must be a part of the work force by example and in deed, but simultaneously be out in front of and far enough ahead that others can look to them for direction and guidance.

Jesus had much to say about leadership. He spent three years in the trenches with his followers doing the work, demonstrating who, what, how, when, and where he wanted things done, three years demonstrating to the Apostles the humility required to be truly effective leaders, three years teaching them how to teach and be leaders. He did that both by example and by his teaching. His example of leadership is awesome; he never asked his followers to do anything that he himself did not do (look at many leaders in our world today and that is very distinctly not an attribute); He never gave them the feeling that he was “above it,” and that they were somehow less than he, so they would have to do the dirty work. When they exhibited characteristics that would keep them from being good leaders, he gently instructed and demonstrated his way, so that when they did something “in Jesus’ name” they truly did it the way he would have done it. Let’s look at some characteristics of His leadership style.

I. Humility

a. Greatness in Jesus’ church is not demonstrated by what we might think of as power. The world sees the rich and powerful as high and mighty, as being “above it all,” not having to get their hands dirty. He sits on a great golden throne and throws his weight around simply by barking orders, which others obey out of fear.

b. The modern world is not the only time in history that people have thought of leadership in this way, nor the only time that the powerful have behaved in such a manner. In fact, Jesus’ disciples argued amongst themselves about who among them would be the greatest. Jesus’ response is revealing, it demonstrates the paradoxical nature of good leadership, and is as counter-intuitive as anything he ever taught. Listen to Mark 10:35- Then59 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 10:36 He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 10:37 They said to him, “Permit one of us to sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.” 10:38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I experience?”60 10:39 They said to him, “We are able.”61 Then Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism I experience, 10:40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give. It is for those for whom it has been prepared.”62 10:41 Now63 when the other ten64 heard this,65 they became angry with James and John. 10:42 Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 10:43 But it is not this way among you. Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant; 10:44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave66 of all. 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom67 for many.”

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