(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Distinctness in Church Leadership
By Michelle Ochen
What comes to your mind when you think of a leader? For me, I think of someone I can follow confidently. I think of someone who has more experience than myself. I think of someone who is aware of onlooking eyes and lives accordingly.
The book of Titus speaks of those who desire to be leaders within the church. There are higher standards given for those who desire to lead. All throughout Scripture the role of a pastor is described as a shepherd. One who leads the flock to good pastures and defends them from what may harm. Those who seek leadership within the church need to assume the same responsibilities. Too commonly the role of leadership in the church is taken on without a firm understanding of the distinctness required. This is a big role and not a calling for all. How are they who are called to such positions, maintain distinctness?
One characteristic of distinctness is acceptance of being different. One who assumes a role as a leader within a church needs to understand that a church is not a business–the church is not a corporation but a family. The church is the bride of Christ. It is not a position to lead to higher growth in numbers and popularity but in knowledge of who God is and an invitation to experience His personal leading in life. With this mindset, the focus ought to be on healthy relationships not healthy productivity. Relationships need to be cultivated and protected. Leadership within the church needs to guard relationship by having proper accountability in conversations, and a humility to be questioned if someone does not understand or is uncomfortable with things that were spoken in their leading. Church leadership needs to be approachable, looked to for guidance, and responsible over the wellbeing of the flock but not the final authority. A good leader recognizes that they themself are being led by the head of the church, Christ Jesus. A good leader needs to build relationships with those he is leading, balanced out by those who will speak into their leadership and correct them if they should need it.
A second characteristic of distinctness is proper accountability. If others are looking to your life for leadership, you need to be extra aware of how you are living. The life of a church leader will be examined and if that idea feels intruding then it is not the right position for the individual. There ought to be proper accountability in the life of a leader in the area of speech, finances, and relationships with others. Many a heartbreak in churches could have been avoided had there been better accountability within leadership.
A concluding characteristic of distinctness in church leadership is servanthood, a striving to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Our Lord revealed Himself in humility. The Jewish people expected the Messiah to come as a conquering King. Long awaiting a Leader who would save them from the oppression of their enemies, they anticipated a King riding on a horse; a picture of conquest, but instead, they received in fulfillment of prophecy, a humble servant riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). One day in the future, He will return on a horse (Revelation 19:11-16), but in His coming to save the world, He came as a peacemaker, a servant, a lamb. Although fully God and willingly in the body of a man, He was led as a lamb to the cross – this is the picture of leadership Christ gave.
Church leadership brings guidance and blessing when the solo aim is to exemplify the distinctness of Jesus. He did not come to be known but to make His Father known. Jesus did not seek the numbers of the crowds but to feed their hungry bellies and deeper their weary hearts. Jesus did not seek the praise of man, but to speak the truth at all costs. This is the distinctness that is required for those who desire to be godly leaders of Christ’s bride, His church.