Thoughts on Leadership in The Church

I don’t believe that this is a popular post especially among my peers.  As I write this, I realize that I have not been able to do anything significant; at least as far as other pastors and church leaders might be concerned.  Yet, for some time I have been troubled by this continuous movement among pastors to focus directly upon leadership.

It seems to me that pastors focus more on reading articles and books on the topic of leadership than they do books that might help them to be better teachers.  Remember, people will follow leaders, but leaders can be different from teachers.  Teaching is important in God’s Kingdom.  Hence, focus on making disciples.  I follow many pastors on Twitter and it is obvious, according to the tweets I see, that many are spending more time reading leadership books than they are theological books.

Let me reign in this argument a little.  Understanding our roles as leaders in The Church is significant.  Yet, this being a subject that dominates our ministries is questionable; at least to me.  Someone like John Wesley, who was a great leader, believed that one of the most important books that he read, a part from the Bible, was Imitation of Christ.  This is a powerful book that seems to deal with transformation instead of demonstrating leadership over others.

In today’s Church, is it possible that pastors are focusing more on delegating the responsibility to care for those in the flock to others in the name of leadership?  This might be a good place to turn around, if you are a pastor, and look at the most read books in your office.  Are the books on leadership worn out more than the Bible?  How about those books that teach about pastoral care?  Theology?

In Mark 6:30-44, Jesus and His disciples “taught” the crowd before the miracle of feeding them.  Significant.  Also, the Disciples were told by Jesus, “You give them something to eat.”  Jesus delegated, with the purpose of “teaching,” to the Disciples to feed the crowd themselves.  The miracle and teaching were meant to teach; not demonstrate leadership.  Nevertheless, there is Scripture that teaches about leadership too.  Yet, it is in balance with other areas of ministry too.

Leadership sometimes gives ministers the hope that great leadership will attract more people to church and motivate them to do the work of The Church.  It can.  Yet, one the aspects that keeps people grounded is speaking the words of life.  When people deserted Jesus, He asked His Disciples if they wanted to leave too, but Peter asked, “To whom will we go, You have the words of life. (paraphrase John 6:68).  They stuck because leaders come and go, but the Truth never changes.  Obviously, Jesus taught the Truth and that was enough.

Some leadership risks are building a church after your image instead of God’s, people looking to you instead of seeking Christ.  I don’t want a church that thinks like Scott Uselman, I want a church that has the mind of Christ.  I don’t want people following Scott Uselman, yes I think I mean that, I want them to follow Jesus Christ.

Leaders tend to fix things, but some things are not meant to be fixed by anyone other than Christ.  Some things are designed teach Christians by the power and influece of the Holy Spirit; not by me becoming a person of influence.

Okay, I am not dumping leadership.  What I hope you have heard is that leadership should not be your only focus in ministry.  Yet, status updates and tweets seem to demonstrate that leadership is somewhat of a subject to show off as a pastor.  If I am out of line, be assured that it is not my intention.  In fact, examining ourselves and our motives might be good spiritual discipline even for a pastor who already knows everything. 😉

I long to see a renewed effort on teaching right doctrine, biblical theology, and focus on transformation instead of trying to develop leaders.  Holy Spirit, would you develop your people for your glory?  Amen.




Filed under Church Health, Holiness, Leadership

4 responses to “Thoughts on Leadership in The Church

  1. Scott,

    Well said post! I am amazed of the many pastors that are all into the latest book(yes there are a ton out there that are wonderfully written and can encourage/teach/train/correct etc our ministry. BUT I am saddened that many pastors over look the Bible as the main source for teaching/training/correcting etc. (2 Tim 3:16)

    THANKS for your thoughts, you are right on my friend!


  2. Actually, there’s something left out of most discussions of leadership (or followership), namely, what is leadership? Any serious discussion, of any subject, ought to define terms.

  3. Scott Uselman

    The quick answer has to include being a servant. Yet, it is more. I also think that we have to define what a Christian leader and what he or she looks like.

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