Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: For general use or as part of an ordination or commissioning service. This message is excepted (with editing) from Thomas Coke's sermon preached at the ordination of Francis Asbury to the office of superintendent, 1784.

Qualities of an Effective Christian Leader

An Ordination Sermon based upon Revelation 3:7-11

Excerpted (with editing) from Thomas Coke’s sermon preached at

The Ordination of Francis Asbury to the office of a Superintendent, 1784

The most important part of a minister’s duty, is to insist on the great, fundamental truths of Christianity….

But to be an effective Christian leader, one must, according to Coke, seek and come to possess the following qualities:

1. Humility. This is the guard of every other Grace. As someone beautifully observes, other graces, without humility, are like a fine powder in the wind without a cover. Let a man or woman be ever so zealous, ever so laborious, yet if lack humility, such a one will be only like Penelope with her web in the ancient fable, undoing at one time what he does at another. There is something interwoven with human nature, which immediately recoils at the very appearance of pride. But the effective Christian leader is clothed with humility. When no other grace shines forth, still we discern this beautiful vail. We give such a one credit for everything. And when, in spite of all his caution, some hidden gem peeps out, it sparkles with redoubled luster. But, above all, he is a vessel fit for his Master’s use. His eye is single, he or she moves directly on; his only desire is to glorify God and benefit humankind, indeed, the effective Christian leader lives for no other end. The effective Christian leader has a desire to depart and be with Christ, and at the same time, a fervent desire to be a blessing to his fellow-creatures. Such a one is “crucified to the world, and the world to him”. The effective Christian leader’s soul, disentangled from every selfish view, and emptied of every selfish desire, is a fit receptacle of all the divine gifts which God is willing to bestow. The effective Christian leader continually lies at the feet of his/her Lord, and the language of his/heart is, “Not unto me, not unto me, but unto thy Name, O Heavenly Father, be all the praise!” There is no impediment in such a one’s soul to the divine operations. He is as the clay in the hand of the Potter, as the pen in the hand of the ready Writer. His humble spirit simply enquires into the Will of its God, and when that is discovered, confers no longer with flesh and blood, but fulfills it with the most entire resignation and great delight.

2. Meekness. This is a passive grace. It is the sacred ballast of the soul—that evenness, that divine serenity of spirit which “is not provoked,” which nothing can move to wrath—that moderation spoken of by St. Paul, which harmonizes all the passions, and holds every power of the heart in sweet subjection—it ties them all to the horns of the altar. In this the effective Christian leader eminently shines. Amidst all the contradictions of sinners, and the provoking of slanderous criticisms, he still retains his gracious temper, and discovers no emotion but that of pity and compassion—all is softness, all is Love. This is the quiet Spirit, whose price is great in the light of God (1 Peter 3:3-4). It is the Spirit of the Lamb, whose voice was not heard in the streets; who was oppressed and afflicted, and was brought as a lamb to the slaughter. Still, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. O how contrary to the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus, is the turbulence and violence of many who call themselves the ministers of Christ. “But the sheep will flee from such, for they know not their voice.”

3. Gentleness. This is an active grace, which is revealed in social interaction and behavior. It is Christian courtesy. This also the effective Christian leader possesses in a high degree. “Grace is poured into his lips,” for “out of the fullness of his Lord he receives grace for grace.” Nothing that is grating drops from his/her mouth. His/her reproofs are dipped in oil, subtle, gradually converting, and the hearer is not provoked to angry response. The effective Christian leader’s words “drop like the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.” His/her looks, and every gesture, and every feature, beam forth Love. This is a key by which hearts are opened. What an amazing field of action does this attractive and influential disposition, accompanied by the blessing of God, gradually open to his/her zealous soul! The effective Christian leader makes religion appear amiable even in the judgment of the world itself. And, except when employed in the more sever duties of the Christian leader’s responsibilities, the effective Christian leader knows nothing of the pain of giving pain.

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