Here’s my article from this week’s church newsletter:
Charge Conference comes around every year (ours is October 7). One of the duties of this meeting is to select leaders for the coming year. Here are some of the confusions I’ve seen regarding leadership in the church.
It’s about power. The job of the church leader is not about power. It’s not primarily about decision making. Instead, the leader gathers people together to help fulfill the church’s mission of making disciples.
It’s about me. While a few people may have gained fame being a church leader, if that’s your goal drop it now. Christian leadership is one element of following Jesus. Thus serving others is more important than having our own way.
I know it all so I should be a leader. If you know it all, church leadership is definitely not for you. Leading in the church requires constant learning – about God (his purposes and callings), the people of the church, our community (the people we’re trying to reach), and techniques of effective ministry. If you’re not willing to learn, church leadership is not for you.
It’s a cushy job. Perhaps you’ve been a leader before. When the Nominations committee (now called “Lay Leadership”) or pastor approached you, you asked, is it difficult? What will I have to do? Maybe they answered something like, “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s not very demanding. Just come to a few meetings.” Christians leadership is hard work. It takes dedication. The eternal destiny of thousands can be at stake. We’re not playing games here. The responsibility of being a Christian leader will push you to continually deepen your relationship with God and your reliance on him. You won’t be able to sit on the sidelines like some folks – you’ll be on the front lines setting an example. Your character matters.
I’ve been a member a long time and I deserve the honor. Unfortunately, tenure is not s sure indicator of competence or faithfulness. Sometimes long time members are awesome leaders. Sometimes new people are awesome leaders. If you think you are entitled to lead because of your tenure or connections, then you’re probably not the right person for the job. You might be reading this and thinking, “I’m not a member yet – what about me?” Many ministry roles are available to people regardless of their membership status. Most leadership roles, however, require you to have made the formal commitments involved in membership.
If being a Christian leader is so difficult, why do it?
You can make an eternal difference in the lives of people. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing God work in someone else’s life through your life. As a leader you help that happen. The result is joy.
You get to see Christians grow in their faith. As a leader God will regularly lead you into situations you can’t handle on your own or using only your own resources. You and those you lead will have to trust God or you will fail. When you do that – and see God come through – your faith grows.
The need is tremendous. If you’ve been here for a while you know the financial challenges we’ve faced – and overcome by the grace of God. Our leadership challenges are even greater. We have a continual need to identify people for ministry, equip and deploy them. Our biggest holes now are in the area of evangelism: the segment of our ministry that focuses on reaching people who have no regular church connection. To put it simply, people need Jesus. We’re here to help them meet Him.
God has called you. If God has called you, He knows what He’s doing. He’s brought you to this point because you are just the person he wants.
Pray for the Lay Leadership Committee as they meet. Pray for their wisdom and guidance. Pray for yourself and others that you might have discernment regarding your own role, whether in a formal leadership position or an informal one. There’s plenty of ministry to go around. The best preparation for leadership is to keep developing your relationship with Christ.
Thanks for this great article. I wonder if you might allow other UMCs to use it in their newsletters…in other words, could I?