News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Leaders must do this

Adobe Stock photo. Do not publish.

There is a plethora of helpful advice in print, podcast and video available for leaders today. A simple internet search on leadership will deliver thousands of pages of resources, webinars, training opportunities, professional certificates, books and more.  

One topic of interest in leadership study today is that of human flourishing. Churches and ministry organizations can both contribute to and stifle human flourishing.  

Some of the things organizations do by command or by culture make life difficult for their team members while other things they do through benefits and blessings can liberate team members. 

I am confident that in 30-plus years of Christian organizational leadership, I have helped some people experience flourishing while I have also unintentionally hindered others from the same. A redemptive view of leadership and a biblical view of sanctification promises that we can each do better. 

How can ministry leaders lead well while at the same time contributing to the flourishing of those they lead? Here are three ways: 

Leaders must solve problems. 

Whether it is the water overflowing in the men’s restroom or two team members at odds with one another, it is the leader’s responsibility to solve problems — either directly or by delegation. Leaders do not have the luxury of abdicating and hope the issue will just go away. Unresolved issues in a church or organization are demoralizing to those who are part of them.  

By nature of the term “leadership,” it is implied that a leader will lead. Knowing what type of leadership to provide, how much and when, is the product of laboring in prayer, counsel, observation and a sense of knowing what to do. But at the end of the day, it is the job of a leader to discover the problems plaguing a church or ministry organization and lean into those problems with wise and careful leadership. Every leader must solve problems.  

Leaders must advance the mission. 

To be a leader means that we provide direction for those we are called to lead. We don’t lead just anywhere, or nowhere for that matter. We are called to advance the mission of the church or ministry organization.  

Followers of Jesus have one mission — the Great Commission — and every Christian leader must give himself or herself to the advancement of that mission. There are certainly lots of ways to advance the Great Commission, but each of us has a little piece of leadership responsibility in God’s grand economy and we are responsible for advancing the Great Commission in that specific area. Leaders must advance the mission.  

Leaders must care for people. 

For Christian leaders, it is not enough that we solve problems and advance the mission. We must also love people and care well for them. We must strive to create and cultivate a culture of care, fairness and justice in the place where we lead.  

Leaders care for people by providing both challenge and support. We challenge those we lead to keep advancing, growing, serving and moving forward. We provide support by offering encouragement, coaching, growth opportunities, and advocating for pay packages, benefits, rest and the like.  

One of my concerns in sharing this advice is that I have at times failed in each of these. While my efforts are strong, my performance often leaves much to be desired. Each leader will be better in one or two of these areas and weaker in another, but we must strive to continually grow in all three. Only Jesus led perfectly. We must each confess our weaknesses to Him and look to Him to grow and strengthen us that we may lead more like Him.  

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” There are certainly more things we can do than the three mentioned above to be faithful stewards in our assigned place of leadership, but we cannot do less.

    About the Author

  • Todd Gray

    Todd Gray is the executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

    Read All by Todd Gray ›