I heard it said once that good leaders don’t simply train followers, but good leaders train and raise up leaders. We have been blessed with many people who are taking the reigns of leadership at Bales Avenue. The challenges in church planting are many but one of the major challenges in church planting is finding focused and qualified leadership.
Today I wanted to discuss, “The desire to lead.”
I have also heard it said that, ” If someone wants to be a leader that’s an indication that maybe they shouldn’t be.”
There is one sense in which I agree with that statement depending on their motivation and motives. We see in scripture disciples asking Jesus who will sit on His right and His left, but asking to get into a place of position. However we also see in the instructions within Timothy where that statement is wrong, because for one to be a leader biblically, they must desire it.
In 1 Timothy 3 we will find many qualifications for church leadership, including starting with the “desire” , which is something described as noble.
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. – (1 Timothy 3:1 ESV)
There is a verse that says it is biblical to desire the office of overseer, and it says that he desires a noble task!!! So why would someone say that those who want a leadership position probably shouldn’t be in leadership?
Over the years I have seen generally two types of leanings when it comes to desiring to be in a church leadership role.
The first kind of leader that may come up in Church or Church Plant which may come off as “Selfish Ambition” and Paul warns against selfish ambition (Phil. 1:17, 2:3)
The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. – (Philippians 1:17 ESV)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3 ESV)
They may have a seminary degree or not, they may have held some leadership role at another local church, and they come in with an expectation of being a leader. They have not committed to the local fellowship, maybe they have had issues in the past with other leadership in other churches and think finally I’m going to come to this fellowship and they’re going to let me lead. They would like a title before submitting themselves to the leadership of the local body. The title seems to often be more important than ministering the gospel to the body. There is an ambition for leadership that has more to do with them, than it has to do with God. When they aren’t made leaders on the timeline that they have set for themselves, then the fruit of this is often frustration or anger. They might get jealous if someone begins to lead or be in leadership before them. These are exhibits of fruit that are born of self.
The second kind of person desires to be in leadership, but knows it’s probably a long-term process, and it doesn’t happen overnight, sometimes it may happen faster in Church plants however that’s not always the case. The mixture of; demonstration of character, gifting, servant hood, Gospel ministry, and maturity require time and prayer. There is a measure of patience and maturity in their attitude towards ministry, and in actuality they begin leading within the body of Christ without a title or recognition. If there is an initiative of the Church they are a helping hand, to serve. They see a need and they fill it. They may approach the leadership team of the church or church plant to inquire about the process of leadership, but it’s with a humble attitude, and not an attitude of “expectation.”
Here is a text that doesn’t explicitly pertain to leadership but all Christians which also holds true for leadership.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” – 1 Peter 5:6 ESV
If the leadership determines there are some things to work on before someone is ready for leading others, then in humility they ask what these things are, and don’t become offended or hurt. Or if they do they are quick to repent of it.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. – (Proverbs 9:8-10 ESV)
Notice in this if feedback is given to a scoffer, he will hate you. (More to come on this in giving and receiving feedback in a later blog.) For this humble person who desires the office overseer there is an understanding that leadership is based upon biblical character, a demonstration and trust of that character, and of relationship with both the body of Christ and with the current and standing leadership. More than anything their heart is for the gospel and gospel ministry, and this heart will shine through more than any other characteristic.
The ultimate point here is desire can be defined as a good thing or a bad thing but the underlying issue and root are motives. Motives are hard to determine, and it is difficult to be objective. My own motives have been mixed at times. There are times when it feels nice to be needed, and appreciated, but when the craving for this is high and I need it to feel secure or significant, I am in need to repent check my motives and bring them to the cross. We are all in progress all growing we must bring these things before the cross. ( More on leadership soon !)