It seems that the evangelical world is just full of books, blogs, conferences, and 140 character tweets all designed to help us all become the leaders that God wants us to be. To be honest, I find a great deal (not all) of these resources to be full of complete drivel. It has gotten to the point where when I see the ubiquitous “17 More Great Tips of How to Maximize Your Leadership Potential” I just assume that it will be 17 quotes from either pastors of outrageously large churches or CEOs of outrageously large businesses.
The main gripe I have against most of the leadership movement is not that the information and advice on leadership is false. It is great advice…..if you are trying to lead a business, a social club, or a social justice movement. The problem is that these resources are touted as “church” and “spiritual” leadership helps and are often specifically intended for pastors. All too often they are bereft of anything even approaching biblical leadership wisdom.
Let me give you an example. I followed a link this morning from my Twitter feed to a list of 32 leadership quotes from a talk given at a fairly large conference currently being held. Number 29 on the list was a quote that the speaker used in his talk to pastors.
“Likability is the single most important quality of a pastor.” – Vance Havner
This quote is the quintessential leadership quote: pithy, memorable, tweetable, and completely lacking any biblical basis.
Exactly where in scripture is that idea found?
Certainly not anywhere in the teachings of Jesus.
And certainly not anywhere in the pastoral epistles of Paul.
As a matter of fact, nowhere in scripture are pastors (or anyone else for that matter) instructed to pursue likability as the single most important character trait.
What pastors are instructed to do is tend the flock entrusted to them (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2), guard sound doctrine and rebuke those who do not hold to it (Titus 1:9), rightly handle the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), and preach the Word in season and out (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul even gives us a list of qualifications for elders in the church not once, but twice (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).
Likability doesn’t make the cut.
“But Sheldon,” you say. “What about leaders in the church who aren’t pastors and elders and such. Surely these people can benefit from these resources.”
Turns out the bible also talks about what it means to be a leader. Jesus Himself addresses this very thing. His thoughts on leadership? Die to yourself and serve those around you (Matthew 20:27, Mark 10:44).
Do I think we should help raise up competent and qualified leaders in our churches? Yes.
Do I think pastors can become better pastors and leaders than they are now? Yes.
Do I think that scripture is insufficient to the task of helping pastors become better pastors? No.
So Pastor, church leader, skip the next leadership conference and put down that leadership book. Open up your bible. Read it, study it, meditate on it. Find older more mature pastors who are doing the same and let them disciple you.
The church of Jesus Christ cannot be run and led like it is a worldly organization. Because it isn’t one. It is the supernatural Bride of Christ and is not of this world. It must be run and led the way the Bridegroom commands in His word that it be run and led.
And if you aren’t willing to submit to those terms then, quite frankly, you shouldn’t be leading.