14 Feb “Choosing A Leader” by Dave Gadoury
Many readers of this blog know that last month I announced my resignation, after 42 years, as Lead Pastor of our church. This July I will begin serving with LoveRI, seeking to encourage churches towards the prayer-care-share lifestyle and help them in their united service and witness in their communities. I am excited and challenged by this new opportunity, but it came to me amidst great concern for the future leadership of the congregation I have loved and served all these years.
For several years I have sensed that God may be preparing me for a different calling, but I have felt deeply that I could never responsibly contemplate a move unless I could believe that I had done all that I could to prepare the church to continue to thrive in the future.
As the elder team around me began to wrestle with this in earnest, we came, over time, to see the hand of God guiding us and uniting us toward a Holy Spirit-given answer to this most important question. In our case, he led us to see that the solution we were seeking was already serving among us, and they were led to designate this individual to eventually step into the leadership role in our church.
Whenever Christians have come together to accomplish his kingdom will, whether in a church, a ministry team, or a non-profit organization, the issue of leadership will always be paramount. As Bill Hybels insightfully wrote, “The church must come to grips with the fact that the gift of leadership is the catalytic gift that energizes, directs, and empowers all the other gifts.” Without the right leaders using God-given leadership gifts, no group is going to be able to reach its full potential.
If you have the privilege to be involved in helping a group make sure that it has the right leader, you are not alone. This great responsibility has weighed on me for several years, and I have had lots of time to ponder it and to read and hear what others have learned as well.
Along the way I have come to some convictions about what I think we should all be looking for. Every group, for every season, may need different skills and backgrounds in their leader. But there are some things that I think must always be present for God to really use and bless that leader. You can check out Paul’s lists of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for some of them, but here are three that I am convinced should always be clearly seen:
People that are most impressed with their abilities and expect others to notice are on collision course with what God says is most important in leaders. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, ESV) Leadership failures can most often be traced to falling short on the humility front. Someone thought they could do it alone, were too proud to admit a temptation, were too self-sufficient to lean on others’ judgment, or too content to try do it all themselves. When looking for a leader, it may be harder to start with this difficult to see quality, but it’s worth holding out for someone who has it.
Paul could write this about his trusted friend: ‘You know Timothy’s proven worth.” (Philippians 2:22) Proven worth doesn’t develop overnight. It exists because a leader had been tested. Tested by trials and found unwavering; tested by disappointments and found rejoicing; tested by discouraging circumstances, but not giving up. People are called “dependable” because we can, well, depend on them. The consistency of their character leaves us unsurprised when they keep on going when others have called it quits. We knew we could count on them when the chips were down. Don’t let someone like this slip through your grasp.
We know already that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) We all need to be people of faith. But this is never more true than in the life of a spiritual leader. The thing about leaders is that they can see possibilities and potentials that others cannot see. Through the eye of faith, they form a mental picture of a better future, and then find ways to mobilize others to help make it happen. Don’t settle for a leader whose goal is to safely preserve the status quo. Pray for God to send your way someone who can see a Promise Land in your future.
I am thankful beyond measure that God made my friend Rick a part of our team. There are so many things about him that I wish were more true of me. Our church will be blessed to have his leadership. But above all, I am thankful that he is a humble and dependable man of faith. May God lead you to people like this who will serve the team, the church, or the ministry where you serve.