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What Is Biblical Leadership?

Michal A. Masih, is a lead Pastor at Resurrection of Church Ministries in Lahore Pakistan. He holds a degree in Pastoral Leadership.

Read on to learn the characteristics of Biblical leaderhsip.

Read on to learn the characteristics of Biblical leaderhsip.

A Biblical View of Church Leadership

Leadership is one of the most discussed topics and probably one of the most abused and misunderstood propositions as well. Everything hinges on leadership. John Maxwell states, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Nothing happens, succeeds, develops, advances improves, and is corrected without leadership.[1] Effective leadership is a necessary component that is required for the survival of a society, an impartation to the next generation, and the appropriate use of current resources for maximum productivity. This is true for every individual, group, belief, organization, institution, and region.

Therefore, the church is not an exception. As a matter of fact, the church has the privilege of knowing, carrying the legacy, and impartation of the greatest leader of all time—Jesus Christ. Adopting and following His leadership model is the key to revolutionary change, inevitable transformation, and persistent output. Even though His leadership replica is specifically for His church but it is not limited in its nature because its potency covers all aspects of human life where leadership is needed.

Everyone is a leader at some level in one’s life, whether one can recognize it or not. One thing that stands out about leadership is that it is a journey of learning, experiences, and steady transformation because one never arrives. Therefore, it requires character, calling, vision, discipline, consistency, competency, self-awareness, and understanding of relevancy in a particular field of life because it is directed to serve the good of people.

What Others Have To Say About Leadership

Many people have attempted to define leadership from their perspective, experience, and insights. John Maxwell, for example, defines leadership as influence.[2] Blanchard and Hodges state that affecting one’s thinking and attitude persuasively for good is leadership.[3] Myles Munroe defines leadership as “Leadership is the capacity to influence others through inspiration, motivated by a passion, generated by a vision, produced by conviction, ignited by a purpose.”[4] God solves human problems through leadership.[5] No matter what someone has to say about leadership, everyone agrees that true leadership serves others’ needs for their well-being through a selfless act of sacrificial service.

The leadership model of Jesus is and should be the foundational stone for the leadership pattern of His church. His leadership model defines it as serving others and discards the need to have a position to do that. According to Him, it requires a humble heart more than a prestigious title. He encourages empowering others to lead rather than control and focuses on meeting the needs of others around. “You are at your best when you are serving”, says Joni Parsley.[6]

Therefore, it should be the desire of every believer, particularly those who are trusted with leadership positions to serve the community with the heart of Jesus. Consequently, character, discipline, and Christ-centered life are indispensable attributes for this task, and Paul is bringing this to the attention of his ‘spiritual son’ Timothy.

The Apostle Paul and Jesus' Leadership Model

The Apostle Paul, a Pharisee by sect, was not oblivious to the Jewish leadership structure of the Sanhedrin, eldership, which preferred words more than action, control more than empowerment, and a punitive approach more than restorative. When he encountered Jesus on the road of Damascus (Acts 9), he was transformed entirely. He treated everything worthy of his confidence as loss which was gain, and said, “… I consider them garbage” (Phil. 3:7-8).

Consequently, he leaned towards the leadership model of Jesus and emphasized it throughout his writings, especially his Epistles to Timothy and Titus. He corrected, instructed, affirmed, and encouraged them to stay steadfast in their walk with Jesus Christ as they have the responsibility of leading His church. He laid a firm leadership structure of the church, which is morally solid, practically valid, versatile, and universal in its nature.

In a highly Hellenistic and Judeo-conflicted environment where everything was about power, prestige, and position, it was very hard to lay down a pattern of leadership, which was completely opposite to the culture of that time, but it was simply because their role model was Jesus and their eyes were not fixated on the world. Paul’s instructions reveal the imperative nature of one’s being rather than one’s doing to lead the church of Christ. One’s doings must flow out of one’s being.

One of the very vivid characteristics delineated throughout Paul’s Epistles, predominantly Pastoral Epistles, is that a leader should be able to ‘teach’ because it is one of the most imperative needs to preach and teach the true Christ-centered, biblically oriented, and theologically sound doctrine. Otherwise, it is very easy to get off the right track when the lucidity of hollow growth seems appealing, the desire to be relevant gets intensified, leaning towards trending appears inevitable, and standing alone for the right things becomes challenging.

However, a solid character rooted in the teaching of Christ Jesus for a leadership position in the church surpasses every other quality. Sanderson says, “Our actions should manifest our calling, but it must be confirmed by our character.”[7] Consequently, depth of knowledge, eloquent speech, management skills, and ability to cast vision are outweighed by a blameless life.

The church that was planted through Paul’s successful ministry in a very charming but spiritually challenging city of Ephesus was the victim of leadership flaws under the leadership of Timothy, which he earnestly desires Timothy to rescue by putting the structure into it. Consistency of character, which is a blameless life, morally firm mindset, socially communal attitude, and patience are the elementary characteristics that are allocated in 1-Tim. 3:1-15 for the church leadership as well as ministers.

It has three aspects: first personal (2-3), second familial (4-5), and third, relation with others (6-7). Fee says, “If our identification of the false teachers as elders is correct, then Paul’s reason for this set of instructions is that Timothy must see to it that elders are living according to their appointment, that is, by these standards. At the same time, of course, the whole church will be listening in and will thus be given the grounds for discipline of erring elders as well as for their replacement (cf. 5:22, 24–25).”[8]

Effective leadership is very imperative for healthy productivity, a continuation of a vision, correction, and change for the better. It flies at the wings of character, runs at the wheels of true sound doctrine, and is modelled through living it out. Therefore, ignoring the above-mentioned structure makes its demise unavoidable. The church is the bride and the body of Christ; nonetheless, it must not be led as granted but with much care, Word, and a Spirit-led living that ultimately refines our character, molds us into the image of Jesus, and helps us represent Him in an appealing way to this world where losing patience at minor things is easy, sin is attractive, and use of unfair means for growth is very common.

References

Blanchard, Kenneth H., and Phil Hodges. Lead like Jesus: Lessons for Everyone from the

Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time. Thomas Nelson, 2008.

Fee, Gordon D. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. Baker Books, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2011.

Maxwell, John C. The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the

Organization. BookBaby, 2014.

Munroe, Myles. The Power of Character in Leadership: How Values, Morals, Ethics, and

Principles Affect Leaders. Whitaker House, 2017.

Munroe, Myles. The Spirit of Leadership: Cultivating the Attitudes That Influence Human

Action. Whitaker House, 2018.

Sanderson, Don. Pastoral Epistles’ Lecture Notes. Fall 2019

Notes

[1] Munroe, Myles. The Power of Character in Leader: How Values, Morals, Ethics, and Principles Affect Leaders. Whitaker House, 2014. P.

[2] Maxwell, John C. The 360 Degree Leader: Developing …., P.

[3] Blanchard, Kenneth H., and Phil Hodges. Lead like Jesus: Lessons for …., P.4

[4] Munroe, Myles. The Spirit of Leadership: Cultivating the Attitudes that Influence Human Actions. Whitaker House, 2018. P.

[5] Masih, Michal.

[6] Parsley, Joni Miss. Quotes.

[7] Sanderson, Don. Pastoral Epistles’ Lecture Notes. Fall 2019

[8] Fee, 1&2 Timothy……, p.79.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.