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Leadership starts with character, GGBTS president tells students

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–The kind of leadership crucial to the church today begins with character and ends with “getting the job done,” seminary President William O. Crews told new students gathered at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s first chapel service Aug. 23.

“What’s true in the business world, in society and in the family is certainly true in the church — leadership is the crucial issue facing us today,” Crews said. “We need the kind of leadership in our churches that ends with people around us saying, ‘This has to be the work of God.'”

Also welcoming new students to the seminary was provost Richard Melick, who noted that each of the seminary’s five campuses showed an increase in the number of new students who applied for admission. The student body now totals more than 1,200 students.

“We’re grateful for the growth God is using here to achieve his purposes in this great mission field of the West,” Melick said. “All of us are here called of God, serving him and working together so that the gospel can be spread throughout all the earth.”

Crews said his experiences as a pastor in the West and as president of the Mill Valley, Calif., seminary for 15 years confirms his passion for educating leaders. But he emphasized the importance of seeing leadership with the right perspective. He outlined four basic components:

— The essence of leadership is influence. “It’s not that God has called you in order for you to tell other people what to do. It’s not a position, but a principle that works itself out in the lives of the people around you.”

— The power of influence is vision. “God always puts in the heart of somebody or some bodies what he wants done. People will only be led by someone who helps them see where to go and what God wants done.”

— The object of vision is change. “Change is an awful word that all of us resist. You don’t need a vision if you don’t believe there is need for change. The reason you paint a picture of tomorrow is because today isn’t good enough.”

— The arena of change is the future. “You can’t change yesterday and it’s very hard to do a lot to change today, but you can make changes for the future.”

Pointing to Nehemiah in the Old Testament, Crews said the prophet displayed three important characteristics:

— Character. “We believe that you’ve got to be something before you can do something. It’s important that your life reflect who God wants you to be as well as what he wants you to do. I hope you will spend time here at Golden Gate learning to be a person of character.”

— Competence. “Leadership really is not effective until you get the job done. Nehemiah was a person of character first, but he also knew how to do some things.”

— Influence. “Nehemiah gave up insisting on his rights for the benefit of doing God’s work in and through the people God gave him to lead. There’s something about a leader who’s willing to sacrifice himself or herself that people will follow. People will not follow leaders who are in it for what they can get, but they will follow shepherds willing to lay down their lives for the sheep.”

Crews said the first six chapters of the Old Testament book provide “markers” of biblical leadership:

— Listen to God. “You can’t just rush out to do God’s work without listening to what he wants done. If we’re going to find out what God wants, we’re going to have to listen.”

— Wait on God. “Most of us, when we find out what God wants, rush out to do it. But as Nehemiah waited, God did something in his heart that helped Nehemiah when it was time to get the job done.”

— Give the job away to others. “Not often in Scripture does God work through a lone individual. You will find out in ministry that the work you give away is the most important work of all.”

— Deal with opposition. “Discouragement will inevitably come, both from outside intimidation and internal division. The people of God will not do the work of God when they are busy squabbling. Often, internal strife will do more [damage] than outside intimidation could ever do.”

— Stay focused. “Nehemiah didn’t give up until he got the job done.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WILLIAM O. CREWS.

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  • Cameron Crabtree