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Think about a Pastor at a Church – he has no financial or professional motivation to be a leader. Then, is he a leader? Jesus’ gospel, Matthew, also did not have any specific team or organisational goal to achieve; was he a leader?
Yes, they are leaders of the people solely to serve the purpose of Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible. This is the crux of Christian leadership – no authority, no power. It is based on humility and the sole willingness of the people to lead their followers.
In this article, let’s understand what is Christian Leadership, its types, essential principles and the necessary qualities that can make you a good Christian Leader.
What Is Christian Leadership
Let’s begin with what Christian Leadership is. Christian Leadership, often referred to as Biblical Leadership, is a calling to guide and inspire others. This style of leadership is driven by the principles and teachings found in the Bible. It goes beyond the conventional understanding of leadership, emphasising servanthood and selflessness. As Jesus exemplified during His earthly ministry, Christian leaders are called to imitate His love, compassion, and sacrificial nature.
Since Christian leadership originates in the Church, these individuals are often called Church Leaders. Jesus, naturally, is the first known Church leader, and after Him, His Gospels, the Pastors are the Church leaders. However, Christian leadership is not restricted to Church Leadership. Anyone can follow the principles of the Bible and inculcate the qualities of Servant leadership to become a Christian leader. Let’s briefly understand what is servant leadership.
Meaning Of Servant Leadership
Although the concept of servant leadership is timeless, the phrase “servant leadership” was first used by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay, “The Servant as Leader”, first published in 1970. According to Greenleaf, servant leadership begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. This conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. A servant-leader is primarily focused on the growth and well-being of individuals and the communities to which they belong. Unlike traditional leadership, which often involves the accumulation and exercise of power at the top of the hierarchy, servant leadership is distinct.
Christian leadership derives its meaning from the concepts of Servant leadership with Jesus as the role model. As the Lord’s son, Jesus did not come to Earth to rule the world or show His assertiveness; He came to serve. In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus explains to his closest disciples that if any of you wants to be a leader of others, you must serve others and not exercise authority.
To lead by example, Jesus even washed the feet of his disciples, showcasing this act as an act of service which everyone after Him must follow. He called Himself a teacher – neither God nor a leader to emphasise that true leadership lies in the growth of your followers.
Four C’s Of Christian Leadership
Dr Bruce Winston, a program director at Regent University, identified four components that make up Christian Leadership. He calls them the four C’s of Christian Leadership – Calling, Competence, Confidence and Character.
Let’s discuss them in detail.
Calling can be understood as having a clear sense of purpose or a profound understanding of one’s mission in life. It involves a deep conviction and commitment to contribute meaningfully to a particular cause or pursue a specific path that aligns with one’s values and passions.
Competence, in a broader sense, refers to possessing the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to fulfil responsibilities effectively. It transcends religious boundaries and emphasises the importance of being well-equipped and proficient in one’s field or role. Competent leaders are those who continually enhance their skills and expertise.
Confidence translates to having a strong sense of assurance and conviction in one’s decisions and actions. It involves the ability to make informed choices, take calculated risks, and inspire trust in others. Confidence, in this context, is rooted in self-belief, resilience, and a positive mindset.
Character embodies the values, integrity, and ethical principles that guide one’s actions and interactions with others. It involves honesty, authenticity, and a commitment to moral principles. Leaders with strong character are trusted and respected, creating a positive and ethical environment.
In summary, these four attributes represent universal qualities that contribute to effective leadership. Like any leader, a Christian leader is bestowed with a lot of responsibilities, and based on their responsibility, they are divided into four types. Continue reading below to find out the four types of Christian Leadership.
4 Types Of Christian Leadership
As Christian Leaders or Church Leaders, individuals are expected to create norms, follow them and, even when the time requires, break those norms to pave the way for new ones. Based on their role, church leaders are divided into four types.
Read further and see which one you are.
Builders are visionary leaders who like to start new things. They are pioneers and church planters. They see a vision from God and work hard to make it happen. Builders are often innovators and risk-takers. The builders find their relevance in the Bible in Matthew 25:14-30 while explaining the parable of the bags of gold.
Breakers are leaders who identify what is not working and are willing to break it down. They dismantle and tear apart things that need fixing. They can be change agents in a church or an organisation, challenging complacency and confronting issues boldly. Breakers follow the wordings of Joshua 1:9, where the Lord spoke to Joshua about being courageous.
Fixers are like administrative church leaders – focused on the task at hand and problem-solvers who bring solutions. They diagnose and improve things, especially after breakers have identified issues. Fixers implement strategies, set goals, and ensure accountability for the long-term success of the church or the organisation. Fixers can be placed in 1 Cor. 10:31 in the Bible.
Maintainers are like shepherding leaders – taking care of their flock of sheep. They seek safety for themselves and the church, often avoiding growth and expecting the current situation to continue. They work hard to maintain and shepherd the church, preventing its principles from falling apart. As Peter urges the leaders in 1 Peter 5:2-3 (NIV) to be shepherds and caretakers of their flock, leaders should take care of their followers.
Now, it is up to you to identify what kind of a Christian leader you are and whether you are comfortable with your current style. It is even possible that a builder becomes a breaker overtime or a maintainer becomes a fixer. It entirely depends on the tasks a leader is performing in that specific organisation.
Whether you are a builder or a breaker, certain qualities create the foundation for Christian leadership. Let’s dive into these qualities.
5 Qualities Of Christian Servant Leadership
D.L. Moody, an American evangelist, mentioned that for a Christian leader, “character is worth more than money”, and this character is a culmination of certain essential qualities.
Empathy, at its core, involves the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. In Christian Servant Leadership, this means leaders need to actively comprehend the emotions, struggles, and joys of those they serve. Leaders who empathise with the diverse perspectives and experiences of their followers create an inclusive environment where people feel valued and understood.
In a society where leaders are often driven by self-interest and personal ambition, Church leaders are encouraged to embody a countercultural virtue – humility. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV). Christian leaders are urged to embrace humility, putting the needs and interests of others above their own. This selfless attitude fosters unity and harmony within the community, reflecting the servant-hearted nature of Christ.
Simply put, integrity is the consistency between one’s beliefs, values, and actions, irrespective of external pressures or circumstances. Christian servant leaders are called to uphold unwavering integrity in their actions and decisions. Their faith in Jesus and the desire to serve their followers should remain unseparated like a baked bread from which flour, water and milk cannot be separated.
Jesus Christ Himself articulates the essence of service for a Christian servant leader, stating, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,”. This declaration serves as the Christian leaders’ foundational principle, emphasising that servant leadership is a commendable action and one of the most significant aspects of one’s identity as a follower of Christ. Jesus Christ himself was a role model for this, being a servant of his disciples, and you need to be a servant of your followers if you wish to adopt Christian leadership qualities.
As a quality of a Christian leader, development is a twofold concept – self-development and the development of others. Christian leaders are encouraged to engage in continuous self-development, both spiritually and intellectually. Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ enables leaders to serve their communities better, offering a solid foundation for effective leadership and ministry. Further, in the Great Commission, Jesus commands Christian leaders to be on a mission, not just to manage or to lead but to engage others to grow and develop new disciples and new leaders actively.
Through the guidance of biblical principles, Christian leaders depict a divine model of leadership that seeks the well-being and spiritual growth of those they lead. If implemented successfully, Christian leadership can also bring vast differences in how a business is led.
To learn more about implementing Christian leadership principles at your workplace, read Timothy Keller’s “Every Good Endeavour: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work” – the best of the Christian leadership books.
To see the application of Biblical principles in a business setup, refer to our blog on Bible Verses, where we explain with real-life examples how different Bible principles can contribute to your growth as a leader.