By Rev. Dr. Philip Huan

Photo by Obtal Media on unsplash

The New Leader Needed Today

15 Jan 2023

The last few years has seen tremendous changes in our landscape:

  • The Pandemic which changed the ways we operate
  • Wars which have disrupted chain-supplies causing cost escalations
  • A.I. which is sending waves of uncertainty in the future of work
  • Generational Rifts experienced at home, work and the church that have led at times to polarization and deep divisions and hurts.

Each of these impacts the church’s identity and mission. These changes present her with so much new terrain to figure out and I submit that there is little tried and tested formulae in navigating these challenges for those in church leadership.

What E.M. Bounds writes resonates in this hour:

“We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to provide new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the church and secure enlargement and efficiency. But people are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods, God is looking for better people.”

“This is a realistic call to recognize that leaders will encounter resistance, and in a time of sea change where personal opinions can turn into shouting matches, the leader is to use his gifts diligently in engaging resistant members of the church.”

In such tumultuous waters, the person of the leader – his character, competencies and capacities become paramount.

To the flagging church in a dominantly unfriendly culture, with persecution a living reality, Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy these poignant words:

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. (2 Timothy 2:20)

Paul calls Timothy to differentiate himself and mature to become a vessel for noble use. This is not a call to comparison but to self-examination and a fierce commitment to the calling of God. But how does one grow to become such a vessel?

A few lines before this, Paul calls Timothy to an aspect of leadership that can be considered a skill. Being a skillful leader, who know how to weigh situations and discern what is truly going on and how to navigate grows the leader towards being the kind of vessel that God would use to contain gold, silver and carry out noble purposes.

Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. [15] Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. [16] Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:15-16)

This call is akin to being diligent and skilled in discerning the context of meetings, knowing whether to & how to speak, to study them, and not being carried away by facetious arguments.  For this, the leader is to study the Word diligently and teach it well, being able to warn and admonish with wisdom. This is a realistic call to recognize that leaders will encounter resistance, and in a time of sea change where personal opinions can turn into shouting matches, the leader is to use his gifts diligently in engaging resistant members of the church.

In my consultation experience, I have seen leaders who cause a myriad of misunderstandings and conflict because they lack insight, skill of communication and ability to engage people. I have seen inefficient efforts causing frustration because leaders lack the strategic insight to move an initiative or build a ministry.

These words of Paul cannot be skimmed over. He is touching on a nerve of leadership we must develop and use well. Engaging members in a loving and meaningful way, communicating well and wisely are skills that can be nurtured, crafted and developed, requiring serious diligence on the part of the leader.

“In God’s kingdom, Posture undergirds Performance – the right heart posture flows through & tones one’s actions leading to outcomes that truly honours God.”

In another Scripture, we are admonished as leaders to be secure by resting on God’s Grace upon our lives and calling:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you…If a man’s gift is…leadership, let him govern diligently… (Romans 12:3, 8d)

A leader needs to keep growing to evaluate if the gift is meet for the context. In today’s world, a leader needs to know several core skills including vision-casting, team-building, equipping & mobilization.

However, even more poignantly, the quality of the leader is also seen in the heart-posture. The heart of Paul’s call to Timothy is seen in actions that not only practices skill but that which build character:

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

To lead God’s people well, the leader is to possess heart-postures of:

  • Righteousness – desiring God’s purpose above all
  • Faith – a confidence & reliance upon God in the situation
  • Love – putting people’s welfare above his own
  • Peace – working out differences in relationships

These heart-postures always entail an inner-struggle for the leader, especially at times of stress. In the current landscape, leaders have to include time to engage these struggles well, along in a safe community. For no matter how good one’s gifts are, the wrong heart-posture can taint them. In God’s kingdom, Posture undergirds Performance–the right heart posture flows through & tones one’s actions leading to outcomes that truly honours God.

It is in this vein that Paul writes,

“Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:19-21)

Will you be such a leader–someone God uses to navigate the new and uncertain landscape?

May God build you up through a work of your hands, and a work of your heart – to lead God’s people through this time towards His Kingdom purposes!

Rev. Dr. Philip Huan is the Principal Consultant at ChurchLife Resources, and is passionate about helping churches and leaders become strong and healthy!

Leadership is one gift with several facets. It is a gift that is received, and also grown. Identifying this gift, integrating it with contemporary skills, and building it upon a foundation of godly character, the believer allows God to hone this gift for deep spiritual impact.

In the track series, Facets to Honing Spiritual Leadership, Churchlife Resources has developed a core definition of the leadership gift and seeks to unpack each of the facets below through Biblical contemporary perspectives, and examining them in terms of skill sets and godly character traits.

Click here to find out more!

Leadership is the divine enablement to cast vision, motivate people and direct them to work harmoniously, in multiplying toward God’s purposes.

What kind of person is needed to lead well for the long-haul?

God calls a leader to rise, but He also shapes the soul of that leader, to be a vessel fit for His use.

A Work of Heart seeks to examine the shaping of inner heart of those who lead on the frontlines through various arenas.

Click here to find out more!

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