How can someone become a Christian leader? The only way to be a Christian leader is if other Christians follow you as you follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). But, ironically, the hardest part of Christian leadership is that no one naturally wants to follow because of sin.
Sin is rebellion against God’s authority and leadership. Therefore, human nature, because of sin, simply does not like Christian leadership either since it is a delegated leadership role from God.
So what’s a Christian leader to do? How can you be a Christian leader if no one wants to follow you? The only hope a Christian leader has is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How to Be a Christian Leader: Bring the Right Solution to the Problem of Sin
When Adam and Eve fell to Satan’s temptations in the garden, they simply did the opposite of what God told them. The original sin was rooted in a lack of following leadership, in a lack of respecting God’s authority, and in a desire to follow one’s own desires rather than the desires of the Ultimate Leader (James 1:14).
What does this mean for Christian leaders such as pastors, parents, and Christian educators? This means that those you seek to lead will naturally not want to follow. Christian leadership is the hardest job because not only do you need to help those in need, you need to help them realize they are in need. Not only to you need to lead them effectively, you need to lead them in learning to respect and value your leadership because their natural sin tendency is to reject your Christian leadership.
No other leadership position on earth is like Christian leadership. If you don’t respect your boss’s authority at work, you eventually get fired or quit. If you don’t respect your coach’s leadership, you get cut or leave the team. No doctor is required to convince the ill person she is ill before treating the illness. No professor is required to convince the college student how important trigonometry is. She simply goes to the front of the class, the students learn or don’t, and then she grades the test. She is not required to stand out in the hallways of the college convincing students that trig is something they should learn. She doesn’t need to spend the first half of every class convincing the students how they really should listen to her.
But the Christian leader not only needs to show people the way, they need to show people the way who naturally don’t want to be shown the way because of the sinfulness in every human. This is why to be a Christian leader we must ultimately proclaim Jesus Christ and his gospel above all else.
How To Be A Christian Leader: Be A Gospel-Centered Person
Without a radical change of heart, the heart hates authority. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can change the human heart. Therefore, if Christian leaders hope to lead well, they must preach Christ and him crucified above all else or in the end no one will have the ability to follow. If you want to be a Christian leader someday, you first need to be a gospel-centered person now.
If a pastor only harps on how his congregation needs to stop gossiping, they will only begin to gossip about him. If a dad repeatedly addresses the snarky attitude of his child, the child will only turn that attitude towards him. If a Christian counselor tells her client over and over again the deadly affects of alcohol and how imperative it is that this addictive behavior stop, the client will eventually skip the counseling session and head to the bar.
Without the transformation to our inner being, without the ongoing process of sanctification, and without the regular reliance on the Spirit’s power and grace, no human can resist sin. And since sin is a rebellion against authority, this means that without the gospel saving us from sin, no Christian leader will be able to lead a people because without Christ people are unable to humbly submit and follow Christian leadership.
Simply take a look at the Old Testament and you will see this pattern again and again. No leader had ultimate success leading God’s people. This was not the fault of the leader, rather it was due to the people’s rebellious hearts towards God’s leadership.
Christ had to come not only to lead the people himself, but to change the heart of the people so they would want to be led.
Following authority is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Sin overrides all logical arguments, all persuasive techniques, and all the charm a Christian leader can lather on. There is nothing a Christian leader can do to help those he or she is leading if those people lack the ability to follow because of their bondage to sin.
How To Be A Christian Leader: Rally People Around Jesus and His Gospel
To be a Christian leader, you need to be able to unite a group of Christians. Throughout the ages of Church history, the only thing that truly unites a group of people is Jesus Christ and his gospel.
The Church of Jesus Christ is made up of every age, gender, and ethnicity imaginable. Clearly the only thing uniting such a diverse group of Christians is Christ himself. If you want to keep people together, if you want to keep a group of believers moving forward in a united front, and if you want to lead a people on a specific mission, you must be a gospel-centered leader.
Galatians 3:28 explains that the gospel is the ultimate barrier breaker, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Unity is produced through the gospel. If you want to be a Christian leader, you need to be able to lead a united group of Christians. The gospel is the only way.
How To Be A Christian Leader: Keep It Simple, Keep It All About Jesus
The only thing a Christian leader can do to help Christians is to teach them about the rescuing grace of Jesus Christ, because only Jesus can give us the power to respect leadership, especially God’s leadership.
You can always know who is filled with the Spirit by how they respond to leaders, especially Christian leaders. If someone is genuinely respectful to the Christian leaders in their lives, you know they have recently been in the presence of Jesus.
So how can you be a Christian leader? You must remember that only Jesus can correct the rebellion within us. Therefore, Christian leaders must rely solely on Christ and help people know Christ above all things.