The function and effectiveness of the church seems to be heavily dependent on leadership. Whether the state of a church is spiritually healthy and vital or spiritually poor and bogged down in apostasy, it can almost always be reflected by the state of the leadership. It’s through the leadership that God seems to predominantly guide and direct the life of the church. Clearly He can speak to and guide the church through others, but ultimately the church’s spiritual oversight is given to the leadership and God clearly says He will hold them to account for that.
So, those who feel called by God to leadership within the church have a massive responsibility to not only allow God to mature their faith and develop their gift of leadership, but do all they can to help shepherd and watch over the people God has placed in their care.
Moses’ leadership style challenged
This leads me to reflecting on the account of Jethro challenging Moses’ leadership approach in Exodus 18. I believe this passage highlights one of the more effective approaches to leadership. It’s an approach that will not only enable us to lead more effectively, but also to better shepherd those in our care.
I don’t know about you, but I think leading thousands of people out of the powerful nation of Egypt highlights great leadership by Moses. Clearly it was by God’s hand alone that the Israelites were freed from Egypt, but it was Moses who responded to God’s call to be used by God to lead them out. In doing so you would think Moses had his leadership skills pretty well oiled. However like any effective leader, or Christian, one must always be ready to learn how to live for and serve God more effectively.
Moses was inundated all day and every day with people coming to him wanting to inquire of God, to have disputes settled and have the statutes of God revealed to them (Ex18:15-16). This would drive anyone over the edge! Jethro saw this and challenged Moses to adopt a different strategy. Jethro told Moses he can not do this by himself and that he should choose suitable people to train up to deal with the smaller matters whilst Moses take care of the larger issues. The qualifications for these leaders were to fear God, be trustworthy and hate bribery (Ex 18:21).
Despite Moses being the one called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt, God chose to use Moses’ father-in-law, to teach Moses one of the key lessons to effective leadership – training and empowering others to lead. We should always be ready to discern God’s quiet voice as its guidance can sometimes come from the most unlikely sources. Whilst we are always to test everything against scripture, we have many great resources to help equip us and mature us in our faith.
Moses humbly took Jethro’s advice and adopted the more effective approach to leading.
Applying Jethro’s advice
There are many critical aspects to godly leadership – a close relationship with God whilst also fearing Him, honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, conviction, courage, boldness and humility. Yet for us to be effective leaders we need to be willing to accept we can’t do it all on our own. We need help – firstly from God, but also from those trusted ones around us. Godly leadership is about empowering and inspiring others to mature in their relationship with God. That is most effectively done by empowering and equipping your leadership team who in turn influence those around them. This will be far more effective then trying to influence everyone yourself.
Personally I think too much emphasis and pressure is placed on the lead pastor of a church to feed everyone’s needs. I think a lead pastor is more effective when he spends the bulk of his time developing his leadership team so that through them he can better support and feed the flock.
Given the massive responsibility of the leadership team, they need to do what they can to build up, inspire, equip and hold each other accountable. The leadership group needs to make time to invest into and protect one another otherwise like Moses they will burn out trying to solve every little problem.
Beware not to be seduced by talent
Let’s also not forget the criteria by which Moses was to choose the potential leaders – trust worthiness, a fear of God and a hatred of bribery. In other words, it one’s character and spiritual maturity that matters most, not how talented or passionate they may be. May we never fall into the trap of being seduced by talents when it comes to building a leadership team. Talent without godly character is a catalyst for pride to devastate the soul and effectiveness of the leadership team.
Where ever we serve God, may we never forget to humble ourselves before Him each day and remember without the empowering work of His Spirit within our lives and constant prayer, we have no hope of producing fruit for His kingdom and serving the church effectively.