By Benjamin H. Liles
"But Jesus called them to Himself and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'" ~ Matthew 20:25-28, New King James
I have to admit I don't readily call myself a leader by any means. If anything I answered a call I feel God put on my heart. I had been feeling this call for some time, but i have often wondered, and maybe you do as well, "What makes a good spiritual leader?" And while we'll look at that question, we also need to look at how Christ addressed the issue of leadership. Is being a leader all about showing others your knowledge or even authority on a matter? Or is being a leader more than that? What I'm asking is this: what's more important to share with others, the person you are now, the process which got you there? Or are you desiring to be something you wanted on your own terms?
There was a night my wife asked me simply, "Are you desiring to pastor simply because your god-mother made a comment about how you should be?" My wife's question startled me to say the least and caused me to truly examine my heart, my life, and my motivation. This is where I believe true spiritual leadership comes from. So, when I say Christ is the absolute model of authority, spiritually and foundationally to the Christian faith, I speak not just from my heart, but from how and what Christ says.
Paul, one of the Apostles Christ dealt with, wrote, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). Do I go out of my way to explain and show how Christ fulfills scriptures? Do I do so because of my love and service to Him? Do I want to live a life showing how audacious and bold His Spirit enables us to be? I've admitted in several articles over the past two years that I lived my life for only myself. It is by the grace and mercy of Christ through His shed blood I desire to put the past behind me and to live my life for the cause and glory of Christ. Will I still sin? Yes. But it's not my intention to do so. Every day I live I have to always ask myself, and my wife some times even asks me, "How authentic are you? Are you being the real you Christ called out? Or are you simply pretending?"
Yes, it hurts to look inwardly, to see the things the truth that the light of Christ exposes, but living in the light of the truth is also very rewarding, very humbling and shows others how willing I am to live the life Christ called me to. I will admit it I have lied in my past. I hate lying and I hate when I do it. How many people can admit readily they hate lying and even hate it when they do so as well? If you feel yourself nodding your head and saying, "Yes" at the same time, then you're doing something about it.
Paul also wrote this, "You were taught to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires" (Ephesians 4:22, Berean Study). So, if by the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ you were set free from sin and death, you no longer desire to abide and do the will of the flesh. No, you want the things regarding th new nature. It means you allow God to bring to mind His love, His faithfulness to you while you were His enemy. He still wrapped you in His arms and protected you, even when you did wrong. After all Paul also wrote, "We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:6).
So, I think we're back to what makes a leader a good spiritual leader. I believe it comes from honestly assessing who you are. Are you willing to put others ahead of your own good? To encourage and put others ahead of yourself? I truthfully believe this is the case. The marks of a good quality Christian character is that of a man who not only serves those he is to lead, but he does so in all honesty, all humility, someone who still learns what it means to be called and used by Christ. It is the heart and character of a man that makes him a leader or not. It's not about formula, style or even rhetoric. It's about living a life, not just of servant-hood to the body of Christ, but doing it with all of your heart, your mind, and body and soul. I pray this helps every one and each of you in your walk with Christ. I ask He shows you how to live your lives as you ought, and to live it well. In Christ's name I pray. Amen.