One thing is clear. There is a serious leadership meltdown in the Church today. All across the Christendom continuum, the cry for the need for visionary leaders with integrity is being echoed.
For years we have been training leaders who only know how to maintain the status quo. They may answer a few questions but do not know how to ask intelligent questions and cannot think outside the box. It is evident that we don’t have leaders who can think for themselves and come up with new ways of doing things – leaders with a vision who are innovative. If the church is to be effective in community transformation and missions, we need leaders with the following qualities:
1. Spirit led and filled: Many of those in leadership do not qualify to be leaders. They ascended to leadership probably because they are good friends with the leaders; they make good donations; are charismatic; have been in church the longest etc. This list is endless. In some cases, we end up with the wrong people in leadership because the selection or appointment system and leadership structure are faulty. The qualifications as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are non-negotiable. A leadership that is not praying is straying. We do not need men and women of standing in society but men and women of kneeling into leadership.
2. Informed: It is not enough simply to be knowledgeable in the scriptures, important as this is. A leader must be acquainted with trends in the world today and be confident enough to engage with these issues from the biblical perspective. Grappling with issues such as politics, economics, popular culture, people movement, the environment, technology and science and many other disciplines should form part of the Position Result Description (PRD) for every leader.
3. Risk Taking: Many of our churches have been in maintenance mode for years and years and no significant change has been seen. Leaders are contented with the status quo. As long as they can have their services and midweek meetings and ‘defend the doctrine’ – nothing bothers them. If your church is not impacting the community and not involved in missions you may as well question why you exist. You must ask yourself the question, “If this church closed today would the community miss us?” Risk taking involves much prayer and listening to God and then moving the direction God is prompting you even if that direction seems impossible and uncomfortable. It’s about moving outside your ‘comfort zone’.
4. Listening: Too many of our leaders think they have the monopoly on wisdom. They forget that the Holy Spirit speaks to each believer who cares to listen. Leaders must listen to a cross section of age groups and ministry leaders. Stubborn and arrogant leaders are a recipe for stifling church growth.
5. Developing other leaders: One of the first attributes of a good leader is to develop other leaders. Leaders develop leaders. The leaders must mentor and disciple others to take over from them eventually. Leadership is seasonal, generational and temporal. Moses mentored Joshua. Paul mentored Timothy and Silas; Jesus mentored the twelve. Some leaders have been in leadership for years and no wonder they have become stale. Their shelf life is long past.
These are but a few ideas that we need to pay attention to if we are to be the kind of leaders that God and the church expects us to be. Godly leadership that has the passion for the lost world is in short supply today. May God raise such a leadership.
Felix Muchimba, Ph.D., has been involved in Theological Training in Africa for over thirty years. He served with Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO) Zambia for many years as Principal. He is an author and international speaker. He serves on the African Church Based (ACBT) Program Board and is a volunteer Associate Leader for Operation Mobilization (OM) Africa Area. He is married to Eve and has three adult children and one grandson.