Summary: A leader is a person of 1. integrity 2. vision 3. endurance
We are looking at the gift of leadership today, because it is one of the most important gifts of the Spirit. We are emphasizing spiritual gifts because we want you to desire the gifts of the Spirit and pray to receive at least one, if not more of them, in order that your life might be used by God with the time you have been given here. Specifically, we are emphasizing leadership today because a church is only as strong as its leaders. I am so pleased that we have a great deal of strength in this area. I am very proud of the people of this church for being leaders. Along with your spiritual growth, which is inspiring to me as your pastor, I am impressed by how many people we have who are operating in the area of their spiritual gifting. Often, as I am in prayer in the morning, my heart sings with praise to God for all of you. Your love for God, your spiritual growth and involvement in ministry just fills me with joy.
As leaders you have not needed anyone to hold your hand and watch over your shoulder; you take the initiative and think for yourselves. Most of the programs and ministries of this church have come as a result of one of you seeing a need and then taking the initiative in order to see that need was met. Your gifted leadership is inspiring and encouraging others to do something they have been feeling nudged by God to do. So today, I want you to understand the importance of leadership and pray that God will give you the gift of leadership. Understand that I am not talking about becoming the head of some committee. Far from it. I am talking about understanding what your gifts are and then using those gifts for ministry. You begin to operate in the area of your giftedness and then lead others to share that ministry with you.
The first point that I want to lift out today is: A leader is a person of integrity. Integrity means that you are the same person in private that you are in public. You do not have a secret life. It does no good to try to lead if people will not follow you, and the thing that will sabotage your leadership more than anything else is a lack of integrity. What we are talking about is trust. People will not follow someone they cannot trust. Your biggest asset is leading by example. You cannot take people somewhere you have not gone or are not willing to go. You cannot just teach good behavior, you have to model good behavior. A leader is someone who has first of all become a follower — a follower of Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). To get people to follow Christ, he had to first get them to follow him, and to get them to follow him they had to know that he was following Christ.
The news broke this week that William Bennett, the drug czar and education secretary under Republican presidents, has evidently lost millions in Las Vegas and Atlantic City over the last decade. In a statement released Monday, he said, “A number of stories in the media have reported that I have engaged in high stakes gambling over the past decade. It is true that I have gambled large sums of money. I have also complied with all laws on reporting wins and losses. Nevertheless, I have done too much gambling, and this is not an example I wish to set. Therefore, my gambling days are over.” His statement is good in that he admitted the truth, he confessed that his actions were not a good example, and promised to stop gambling altogether. That is more than others have done. But you have to wonder what he was thinking all that time. He is the author of books like The Book of Virtues, The Moral Compass and The Death of Outrage. He is the moral commentator on many TV and radio talk shows. How is it that he saw so clearly the sins of others and did not see his own error? He could have used those millions for such good purposes other than for his own excitement. His lack of integrity has seriously damaged his ability to lead.
How can we avoid this? One thing you can do is to pray that God would reveal to you the areas in your life where you may be blind. We all have our areas of blindness, and we have to be willing to see them. You can also invite other people (your spouse, children or friends) to share with you the inconsistent areas in your life which you need help seeing. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? It may be painful, but it may also make you a better person and a more fruitful leader. A leader has to be able to take correction. A little humility in a leader goes a long way. The book of Proverbs says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3). It makes all the difference whether you are just talking the walk, or you are actually walking the walk.