My Theology of Ministry

Part one (Pastoral Leadership)

The apostle Paul tells us, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist,” (Colossians 1:16-17). In other words, not only can we find the characteristics of a good Christian leader within the pages of the bible, we can also discover their origin and their foundation of authority.

Some might question whether or not leaders, as mentioned in the bible, were truly ordained by God, including the bad ones. I would simply point them to chapter four of the book of Daniel to read about King Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation. The king credited himself for what his kingdom had become. For not giving credit properly to God in Heaven, God turned him out into pastures where he lived like animals, (see. Daniel 4:28-33).

Brent Rinehart, correctly comments that the first and most important attribute of a Christian leader is that they look to God for direction, (Rinehart, 2021). They ask for His advice–to weigh in, if you will. Rinehart goes on to cite Proverbs 16:1 which says, “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord,” (Prov. 16:1).

In Leaders Who Last, (Kraft, 2010), the author makes the same assertion. He writes, “everything I am and everything I do needs to be anchored in my identity with Christ,” (Kraft, 2010 pp. 15) (Emphasis-mine). And I would most certainly concur. My entire being must be grounded–must be built upon Christ Jesus. If I am not grounded to Jesus I cannot be a good husband and father, let alone a leader.

In order for me to label my leadership style, I must first replace “leader” with “trainer.” If I am in a position to lead, it is most certainly for the purpose of teaching and training. My role as a Christian leader is simply working as an old-style telephone operator, connecting a person’s call to Christ.

Another way I would relate my role as a leader is to simply say, “I’m here to help everyone keep their eyes on the ball.” That is Christ Jesus. I pray to be the neon “arrow” on the side of the roadway that helps people reach their destination–to reach Jesus.

Jesus was the “eye of the storm,” (Mat 8:24-27). He was always calm in the midst of storms, figuratively and literally. This is a key characteristic of a Christian leader–to keep a level head. The good Christian leader is able to gather others from the surrounding storm, helping them find their way to the “eye” of calm. Isaiah tells us to “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid, (WEB, 7:4). Turning to The Message, we read, “Tell him, listen, calm down. Don’t be afraid. And don’t panic…” (Peterson, 2002).

A great part of Christ-centeredness is humility. I would consider this the second most important quality or attribute, not just of a Christian leader but of any leader. A leader cannot simply act humble. A Christian leader, I believe, is humble before God through Christ, before they can be humble before others. Humility is acknowledging that I can be only what God allows me to be. James wrote, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up,” (James 4:10).

One more attribute I will mention before turning the page to the next chapter is the ability to listen and accept counsel. In Proverbs 12 we read, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel,” (NASB, Prov. 12:15). Though I am bringing this up last in this chapter this is by no means a sign that it is not as essential as the myriad of

characteristics that all-in-all embody a good Christian leader. According to Inc. Magazine, Ernest Hemingway was quoted, “when people talk, listen completely,” (Daskall, 2015, Inc.com). A leader must listen to others just as much as he or she speaks to others. The Dalai Lama reportedly said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new,” (Mesh, 2018).

The Christian leader is not just a person who displays a few qualities and characteristics of good leadership. Everyone in the body of Christ has been given gifts, as the apostle Paul states in his letter to the Romans, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;” (NASB, Rom 12:6). Therefore a necessary quality that permeates the wider goal of leadership is to build up others, (1 Thess 5:11).

A good leader raises others alongside them. They want to see everyone grow, master their gift (skill), and move forward. A piece in the game of chess is of no consequence if it does not advance. Consider the far reaching work of a ministry and its impact when everyone is advancing.

Paul admonishes us to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above,” (Philippians, 2:3). This is something I need to work on. I can be very selfish; relating to my own time and schedule. He then in a letter to Timothy writes, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved…” (2 Tim 2:15). Make note. Paul does not tell Timothy to “present yourself to man…”

Mike Ayers, Adjunct Professor of Leadership Studies at College of Biblical Studies, in Houston writes, “this identity or sense of self should not be the result of our own invention. It’s not ultimately important who we say we are, nor is it important who others say we are. What is

vitally important is who God says we are. This is true especially for leaders, because in time, our true selves will show through to those we lead,” (Ayers, 2016). I couldn’t agree more and this punctuates the assertions I promulgate here.

References
Ayers, M. (2016) 5 Distinctives of Biblical Leadership. For the Church. Ftc.com

https://ftc.co/resource-library/blog-entries/5-distinctives-of-biblical-leadership/

Kraft, D. (2010) Leaders Who Last. Kraft. Wheaton, IL: Crossway https://platform.virdocs.com/r/s/0/doc/532647/sp/181522353/mi/576673706?cfi=%2F4% 2F2%2F2%2F2%2C%2F1%3A0%2C%2F1%3A0

Malphurs, A. (2005) Advanced Strategic Planning. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
Meah, A. (2018) 35 Inspirational Quotes on Listening. Awakenthegreatnesswithin.com

No Name (2005) Effective Leadership in the Church. CRNA.org. Grand Rapids, MI: Nelson https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/spe_effectiveleadership.pdf

McDowell, C. (2014) 6 Good Bible Verses About Accountability. What Christians Want to Know. https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/6-good-bible-verses-about-accountability/

Rinehart, B. (2021) 9 Essential Qualities of a Godly Leader. Crosswalk.com https://www.crosswalk.com/family/career/9-essential-qualities-of-a-godly-leader.html

Smith, M., Wright, D., The Church Leader’s MBA. Circleville, OH: OCU

©2022 Clayton Moore for Pastoral Leadership essay.

(As was previously submitted towards requirement for MA. Min.)

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