The success and growth of any church organization is hinged on its pastoral leadership. According to John Maxwell; “Everything rises and fa lls on leadership.” The quality of leadership in any organization will determine the success or fall of it. [Jeremiah 3vs 15]. According to Eric Reed, every church deserves to be well fed and well lead to the glory of God. Well fed churches are nourished in rich doctrine thr ough the preaching of the word and discipleship. Well -fed churches are organized with clarity of vision and a plan for accomplishing it.
Shepherding and leading God’s people is at the centre of pastoral leadership but its effectiveness is determined by the abili ty, character and wisdom of tho se involved.
It is the leadership characteristics of pastoral leaders in the church today that defines them and determines their effectiveness in Go d’s church.
Integrity : It is a ma jor concern these days that some Pastoral leaders are not worthy of trust or belief.
Their integrity has become so questionable in the eyes of both the believers and the world. The big question that has remained in the m inds of most believers is “Can the pastoral leaders be trusted?” while it is expected of pastoral leaders to lead by example in all manne r of conduct and behaviour, some of them have not done so but have rather behaved wickedly than godly. While it is true that no man is perfect , the behaviour and character of pastoral lea ders should be above reproach.
More is expected of pastora l leaders though not perfection (Matthew 5vs20). We have leaders who abuse and steal church monies, who are habitual liars, who are in adulterous affairs, who fornicate, drink alcohol, consult spirit mediums etc. Rick Warren says, “Integrity is the foundation to leadership. The most damaging thing a lea der can do is to violate trust.” Due to lack of integrity in some leaders , it has become difficult to trust even the genuine and sound pastoral leaders. Leaders should be trustworthy, relied upon and dependable.
Communication : Pastoral leaders who are good communicators have had their churches understand where they are going, the direction and the vision of their church. People are doing things with confidence and clarity of vision because it has been well spelt out and commun icated. For any relationship to be successful there must be good and meaningful communication on a regular basis. In co mmunicating there are three things that matter most.
The attitude – do you care 3 about those you are communicating with knowledge – do you know what you are talking about. These three values are key in effective communication. We have leaders who use verbal communication but their actions do not correspond with their words. T his kind of communication, “Do as I say, not as I do” does not work in pastoral leadership because Christian leaders are to lead by example in all aspects of conduct. Effective communication also needs effective listening.
When you don’t pay attention to what others have to say, you send a message that you don’t value them. Tillich said: “The first duty of love is to listen. Listening connects the leader more with those he leads and builds, stronger a nd deeper relationships. Wilson – 28 th American presiden t once said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voice of the people.”
If you are a leader you must listen to what people say and you will profit even more from what they say, listening generates ideas and builds loyalty listening skills draw people to you Servanthood : People in church do not want bosses who load thigs on them and abuse them but want leaders who are servant heart ed. Paul the apostle referred to himself and others as servants of Jesus Christ. Christian leaders have been called to serve. We are saved to serve. Christ Jesus took the form of a bondservant, Pastoral leaders who are like minded in church today have made a great impact in their lead ership. It must be understood that servanthood is not foolishness neither is it being men’s servant but God’s servant clothed with humility. All Christian leaders have been called by God to ser ve and not to be bosses over His people. (1 Pe ter 5vs2, 2 Tim 1 vs3, ).
Courageous : leadership has never been easy and smooth all the time but comprised of challengin g moments carrying intimidating and frightening things. And that is when pastoral leaders have to be bold and courageous being able too face and deal with danger or fear without retreating. Dr. James says, “A leader must have the courage to face opposition and criti cism when you are convinced you are headed in the right direction. Have the courage to pay the price.” I n the church today we have seen some courag eous leaders soldiering on and make it in their churches despite the opposition, critism and challenges. On the other hand, some who lacked courage have fallen and failed in ministry because they could not face toug h and challenging times. God told Joshua to be strong and of good courage (Josh ua 1 vs 6-7).
Patience : it is essential to the life of pastoral leaders as it enables us to persevere and bring people to their God’s intended destiny. God’s promises are inherited through patience (Hebrews 6 vs 12). Things do not always happen within our time frame, and that includes out targets, goals, vision and as a leader you should be able to tolerate delay or incompetence. Patience is part of the fruit of the spirit hence it is an important virtue with a lot o f b enefits. According to Prim e, “it can bring people to an experience of salvation (2 Peter 3vs15), It gains its end in fruitfulness (Ja mes 5vs7), it adds beauty to character (Gal atians 5vs22 ), it marks us out as true servants of God (2 Cor inthians 6vs6). ” God is Patient and leaders must exhibit the same (Ex odus 34vs56, Num bers 14vs18). Had God not been patient no human being could experience salvation. Pastoral leaders wh o lack patience alwa ys gather and disperse people , they can’t tolerate mis takes and incompetence.
The five -fold ministry in its entirety is about equipping and mi nistering to the saints ( Ephesians 4 vs 11 -13). I t is a summation of Jesus Christ’s ministry as the chief Shepherd of God’s people. In Jeremiah 3vs15 God has said that he will give his people shepherds/pastors from his own heart, who will feed his people with k nowledge and understanding.
Pastoral leaders are under shepherds and Jesus Christ is the Chief shepherd hence they should ensure that God’s people are well fed with God’s word. Pastoral leadership should provide teaching and preaching of God’s word and establish sound d octrine. In John 21vs15 -17 Jesus tells Peter to feed his lambs and sheep, God’s church is to be well nourished through teaching and preaching of God’s word (1 Peter 5vs1 -4, Ezekiel 34vs1 -3, Acts 20vs28 -32)
Pastoral leadership includes caring for the sheep, that is, visiting the sick, ministering healing to them, bringing back the backslidden, binding up the broken and strengthening the weak (Ezekiel 34vs4,11 -16, Jer 23vs1 -5, Jam5vs14) Caring for God’s people remains critical in pastora l leadership.
Pastoral leadership should guard and prote ct the flock (Acts 20 vs 28 -31) . Pastoral leadership provides protection of God’s People from false teachers and doctrine.
Pastoral leadership rules with love. The bible tells the church to obey those who rule over them and to be submissive, for they watch over their souls (Heb rews 13vs17) . The elders who rule well are to be counted worthy of double honour (1 T imothy 5vs17).
According to Conner , “pastors will exercise governmental ministry (Isaiah 40vs10 -11, Matt hew 2 vs 6). ” It oversee s the flock of God, (Luke 2 vs 18)
Pastoral leadership administers discipline to unrepentant and errant Christians.
Pastoral leade rship leads the church of God by example in attitude, word and lifestyl e (1 Peter 5vs3).
Pastoral leaders develop other leaders and teachers.
Every department has different ministries involved in the execution of its overall purpose covering a wide spectrum of functions. Every department must have a leader and no one should ever be placed in ministry without having been trained.
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