How to be a Capable Leader

There is no substitute to time spent in the face of our Lord! 

The capable leader for any church or ministry must be rooted in Christ first and foremost! Like a Bible student who is and grounded in the spiritual disciplines of the faith, whose drive is their passionate love relationship to the Lordship of Christ which give the knowledge base and empowerment for ministry. And what flows out of it is the desire to love God’s people, to herd them with love into the pastures of maturity. To lead where the leader has been before, and the people have not been. The mature Christian or leader must exhibit the maturity of the Christian life as the result of their growth and experience in the faith. An effective leader cannot be new to the faith. Even the Apostle Paul spent three years being discipled by Barnabas, and he received his call and was empowered directly from Christ Himself. I have seen too many immature Christians who lead by who they are in society, and not who they are in Christ.

A few years ago while on staff at a church, we received a family who came to faith at a crusade, and the father was the founder of a major fast food franchise. So in less than a year he was my boss, and the president and ruling Elder of the congregation. Now he was a great guy and very successful in business, but he did not know how to run a church. So he instinctually ran it like a business and his policies failed. He did not know how to lead in a church, which is more like a family and less like a business and much different than in a corporation, even though a lot of the principles are transferable. After several years he did become a good leader as he matured in the faith. But the church suffered during his learning curve needlessly.

There is no substitute to time spent in the face of our Lord, with a surrendered heart and a learning will. We must be willing to be humble no matter who we are and our experience.

I had to learn this lesson a few years back when I went from being on staff at a large and influential church to a small church in a small town. My first thought before accepting the call was that I was too good for it. But God wanted me there to teach me to walk closer to him, and not walk in the position that I held. So I did, and I experienced humbleness. Nobody knew me as the conference speaker or author or big position in a big church, but just a youth pastor in a small church. But this is where Christ wanted me, and I learned a lot. It prepared me for the road He had for me. And I’m glad I went there because I learned things in a broader context, that I could not have in a large “mega” church.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:15-16; 22-24)

This passage is a testimony to the importance of holiness, and to keep ourselves growing in our spiritual lives so that our emotional selves are impacted and grow too.

Spiritual maturity will lead into emotional maturity most of the time, unless there is some physiological or psychological problem, or deep stress that has never been resolved. It is imperative for the leader to be in control of their emotional health. If not, they need to step down and seek help both spiritually and psychologically. If the leader is given to fits of rage or is just overly emotional, they cannot set the example that Christ has. We are not to be Vulcan’s exhibiting pure logic and no emotions, absolutely not. God created us as emotional beings, but as with anything we must have control of the excess and the potential for rampage.

Moving Away From the Cornerstone

 

The problem is that many churches have fallen so far, they are apostate and others are on the verge of the same betrayal against our Holy Cornerstone. Understanding that He is our Cornerstone gives us a navigational rendering on how to lead and manage our church in a healthy, biblical way. Understanding that He is our chief cornerstone means

Jesus is the Chief, the Head of the corner. It means our Lord is our All in All—we can trust in Him (1 Cor. 15:20-28)! How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our continual comfort.

At the same time, a warning is given in Scripture to those who reject the Living Stone in the Bible. They will stumble and fall. Stumble, meaning disobedient, refers to condemnation and judgment because a person is so “self willed” and prideful, he or she is not willing to acknowledge God as his or her Lord (Mal. 2:8; John 11:9; Rom. 9:33; 14:20; 1 Cor. 10:32; James 3:2; 2 Peter 2:8).

Fall in Romans and Matthew refers to Isaiah (Matt. 21: 33-46; Isa. 8:13-15; 28:16). Peter and Paul both used this image (Rom. 9:33; 11:11; 14: 4, 21; Heb. 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:6-8), that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah will be judged. God’s Kingdom is portrayed as a rock, and we will be cursed by it if we fight against it (Dan. 2: 34-44; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; Rev 20:12-13; 22:12).

He still gives us His grace—until it is too late and we are called to account. God gives us ample prevision and time to turn from our evil and wayward ways to His True Word, His best Way (Jer. 23:22-23).

He patiently accommodates us (to a point) to give us the time to realize our disobedient conduct, gives us the room to make mistakes, and still calls us back into His arms of love and care. Do not be the one who rejects the Living Stone and causes your church to run askew and away from His call and purpose! We are called to allow our faith to empower our obedience because obedience is what pleases God. Disobedience, from a lack of faith, is detestable to Him and causes us to be lost over dangerous ground. This comes down to “apostasy,” which is the abandonment of one’s religious faith, or skewing it far away from its core precepts.

We are falling away from the Truth and are rebelling against Him when we continue to do this without repentance. We are betraying our Lord and deceiving the ones we are supposed to be leading further into His depths!

The problem with this situation is that most of the leadership in these churches who are failing do not realize that they are, nor do they comprehend that their decisions and the things they chase are moving them away from the Cornerstone and into apostasy. The plumb line from which to gauge where we are is His Word. I am not just talking about moving away from essential Christian doctrine, although this applies. Rather, I am pointing to our not communicating doctrine in love and care and not discipling others so they can know Him more. It is just as bad to have good doctrine and not communicate it as it is to reject good doctrine. The end result is the same玆a Church of Perfidy. Then the person in such a church will not know truth, His will, His call, or recognize opportunities and precepts so he can then act upon them. We become the church of the “pew-sitter” who not only does nothing in a church, but also gets nothing from the church.

Is Christ Your Church’s Living Stone?

 

The idea is that the cornerstone represents Christ as the Chosen Stone (Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6-8). The idea that Jesus Christ is our Living Stone has significant ramifications of His Lordship over our lives and church. These themes refer to Him as our temple, the One who gives us grace, reconciliation, empowerment, and comfort, and He does not disappoint. Living stone means the foundation, the source of something, such as of a building or a family (Psalm 118:22; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; 2 Peter 2:4-10).

This means Jesus is the Spiritual Temple, not just in theory or in liturgy, but in actual practice, living in our day-to-day leadership and management. He is the place and focus of worship and counsel.

The church or temple is no longer a building; it is a community in relationship to Christ. Think of these images from the reality that Jesus was a carpenter in His human occupation, and perhaps frequently worked with stonemasons or did masonry himself. He was personally familiar with building both in practice and in Lordship, and we must submit to His Lordship in order to be a healthy, vibrant church. Make no mistake. This image from the Gospels is not a mere tale or metaphor; He is to be Christ the Stone, our Giver of life, our Source and Foundation. We must manage His Church from the mindset and practice that He is our LORD for all we are and do (Matt. 21:42; John 1:4; 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 15:45)!  

Living stones in 2 Peter 2:5 is plural, denoting that they are the people of the Church. In the context of our spiritual house, it means a living organism, a sacred temple empowered by God to worship God. This idea implies that our union in Him is our dependence on Christ, as He is the One who supports us, lifts us up, and houses us in His presence (Ex. 19:6; Mark 12:10-11).

This should cause us to think and be in the wonders and fears of “awe!” This means Christian community and fellowship is a “spiritual house,” established, organized, and led in Him. We are all one in Christ and we derive our life from Him. Our identity in Him must affect us personally and publicly, synergizing us as a community so our church is managed in His “reckoning” (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 15:45) that is formed, indwelt, and empowered by the Spirit (Acts 2:33).

We are all precious, important, and have a job to do as a moving, living temple, reflecting His love and holiness (John 2:19; Ro 12:1; 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb 7:26; 10:10).  The fact of what our Lord has done for us shows us that we are to be as a corporate collaboration of people in Him. The call is to come to Christ because He is the Living Stone, as He called in Matthew 11:28-30. This is an image of how our Lord is our direction and foundation in all we do, personally and in church, and how we, as a church, should function, as we are all interlocked and plumbed with purpose to one another by our calls, gifts, and abilities—all in Him (Eph. 4). Christ is constructing a building of faith and eminence to be His Church, made up of the stones of “us” lain upon the foundation of Him. Thus, our faith needs to grow from us personally and then move into our community so we can interlock with one another, fastened by the mortar of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).  

In Second Peter 2, Peter tells of the incredible transition from the Temple and the priesthood to the Church—foretold, but still inconceivable to the Jewish mindset. The actuality is that Christ is our stone bridge. He gives us continuity and purpose. Jesus is the Foundation, Pillar, and the Purpose of the Church, which means our church, even your church. To facilitate worship, we as His people as gathered are the Church no matter when and where we are at. We are not cold stones that are stationary and that decay; rather, we are living and movable, cemented together as a corporate identity in Him. 

Yet, as perfect and precious as our Living Stone is, we, the people leading His Church, tend not to want to understand Him and therefore refuse to follow His principles out of fear of losing people, not being culturally relevant, or perhaps a fear of conviction, too. His way gets in the way of their way (my way) of leadership, because they have a skewed understanding of the Cornerstone as LORD.

This idea is much like that of the first century Jews who wanted a warrior Messiah, not a Savior and One who convicted their souls. However, when we are in Him, we have no need to fear a loss of relevancy because we more than make up for it with authenticity, which is far more contagious for the faith to those who do not yet know Him. Authenticity means we are encountering and becoming close to Him. Christ alone gives us the comfort, protection, and the deep love we need. Therefore, we can lead His way and not compromise or lose our footing when we are on His footer. Keep in mind that we, too, are precious in God’s sight!  

Our identification as a “corporate” church does not imply a building; rather, it is a relationship of community where we are His priests! The entire sacrificial and priestly system, as God directed Moses to set up, is now obsolete. It has been replaced. Its purpose was to point to Christ and get people ready; now, He is here. He is the Sacrifice, the Altar, and the Temple, and we are the priests (Ex. 19:1-9; Eph. 2:17-18; Heb. 7:27; 8:6; 9:12-28; 10:12-19; 13:15-16; Rev. 1:6). The key is that we have to listen to His Word; we must relinquish our self-absorbed mindsets and focus on Christ as Lord over all. We are called a Spiritual House referring to the O.T. Temple as God’s dwelling place. Now, that house is more than a building; it is also a legacy, a large family, or a dynasty such as the “House of Israel.” Thus, the Church is God’s dwelling place and legacy (2 Sam. 7:5-7, 12-16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:6).