shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
First Peter 5:2
What makes a good leader? At our last monthly leadership training night we explored this question. The answer is more critical than ever for any church. While many churches are facing all kinds of problems, the solution to them is bound up in the answer to our question.
We could summarise this answer with 5 C words.
Character is invisible but eventually evident to all. It is what constitutes a person. A person of refined character strength is someone who can handle criticism and correction sweetly and well. It enables a person to endure when the opposition is fierce but the cause is right. It motivates a person to do long hours of preparation in private what is necessary in order to be done in minutes in the public.
Sincerity is a beautiful leadership trait, but sincere leaders can inadvertently hurt people. Sincerity alone is not enough. Good leaders must also be competent which means that they have undergone training, evaluation, correction, and have gained supervised experience appropriate for their duties.
Lone leaders are limited. For any leader to increase their leadership capacity they must be able to work with other leaders. This requires a certain chemistry. It takes good chemistry for a leader to know how to deal with another leader who may be irritable or under stress. It takes good leadership chemistry to work with a shy discouraged fragile leader.
Someone has said that you can tell if someone is a leader if they have people following them. Conversely, if someone claims to be a leader and there is no one following them, they aren’t leading, they are just going for a walk! Good leaders build connection with those they are leading. They spend time with them. They grow to understand them. And importantly, they build trust with those they are responsible for. Good connection involves good communication. (This skill is critically important for any leader called upon to preach. While a preacher’s sermon content is important, it is all for nothing if the preacher has no connection with their hearers.)
In churches, we often list calling first as the prime quality required for good leading. But being called by God is not the final stage in the making of a good leader. And while it may take place ‘before the foundation of the world’ in God’s sovereign scheme, it is often a sense which grows in the realisation of the called. Experience tells us that God often equips the called over many years with – trials and tests, incredible problems, people who irritate us, people who stretch us and bring the best out of us.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Christ deserves the best we can offer Him. This includes how we look after His Church. Of course these leadership qualities also apply in other arenas of life such as parenting and business management. If you have surrendered yourself to God then chances are pretty good that He is already at work in your life to develop these 5 Cs.