Called to Lead
To what degree should business principles be applied to God’s work?
This is the information age. We are drowning in it. And we tend to take information from one area and directly apply to another. In my opinion, this is one of the problems in the Church today…at least in the United States. We have taken business practices and applied them to the Church. Many “Church Guru’s” use material from Peter Drucker.
Peter Drucker is a business management expert. He was not a man of God…directly. But he had in mind that his business management techniques would work well in the church. This regardless of the Bible teaches. Thus, people like Ray Ortlund and Rick Warren lean heavily on his business principles to organize the Church.
Drucker worked for several decades with nonprofit institutions including hospitals, schools, and charitable organizations. He admits that at first many nonprofits were cold to his concept of management. But overtime, Drucker made inroads into various churches and the “Church Growth Movement” was founded. But does God want us to use man-derived and man-tested principles for running the Church. Or does God want us to rely on the principles presented in His Word to manage the church. I believe it is the later and what we have really gotten from the Church-growth movement is bigger churches with few people growing in their relationship with God.
If our aim is big churches and big budgets, then the movement has been successful. But if the goal is “warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus,” then I would have to say the movement is failing. So, we need always to move cautiously when we apply worldly principles to the work of God.
Besides the Bible has plenty to say about how we should guide the Church, and this is not through leadership guru’s but rather through the hard and diligent work of the leaders God has placed in the church. After all, the church is not a business.
Peter, in his first epistle, speaks about what it means to be a Christian and the resulting suffering that comes about when we commit ourselves to Him (chapters 1-4). Then in chapter 5, Peter begins a section on exhortation. His first exhorts the leaders to lead. He says,
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” (1 Peter 5:1–4)
Peter is addressing this statement to Christian elders…leaders…and he speaks from his experience since he also was an elder. In addition, Peter was a witness of the suffering of Christ. No one in business would say lead because of the suffering you will undergo. But this is what Peter is basically saying. But Peter also has in view the glory that will be revealed. He witnessed the glory of Christ at His transfiguration and following His resurrection. Peter was keenly aware that he would partake or share in the glory of Christ. Peter already demonstrated that those who share in Christs suffering will share in His glory (1 Peter 4:13).
With this background, Peter stated the purpose of Godly leadership in the Church: Shepherd the flock of God. This was a command that Peter had received directly from the mouth of Jesus when Jesus told Peter to tend my sheep (John 21:16). Shepherding means to tend. Besides feeding, the term implies caring for, leading, guiding, and protecting. These are then the duties of those serving as overseers. Peter seems to be equating the term “elder” with “overseer.”
The Godly leader
Peter describes instructs elders to serve as overseers by making a number of contrasting statements.
- Serve not by compulsion but willingly. We should not look at leadership as something “we must do;” rather, we should be willing servants. The leader’s motives must be pure and leadership is done in submission to God’s leading and intervention.
- Serve not for dishonest gain but eagerly. Many pressures are placed on the Christian leader. In large churches, leadership is difficult because one must be careful not to insult the power base. In these churches, the motivation for preaching and teaching is skewed so as to keep the power base on board. Thus, financial pressures can distort the pure motive to do God’s will and to eagerly serve Him.
- Serve not as lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. The Christian leader is not to be one who dominates those under his care. To the contrary, elders in the church should serve as examples to those under their leadership. The Christian leader is to be a role model. Thus, those under the care of the wise leader are lead to Christian maturity and not driven.
Peter than reminds us that when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. When Christ comes again His faithful servants will share in His glory and they will receive unfading crowns. We don’t know much about these crowns, but we do know that they represent special awards that go to those who willing and eagerly serve as undershepherds to Christ and lead the flock to which they have been entrusted into Christian maturity. What a blessing!
God does not ask us to lead the way the world leads. As we have seen throughout Peter’s epistle, the world is against anything Christian. So, to apply the world’s best wisdom to the Church is to neglect God’s wisdom for the Church.
A digression on Christian leadership
I would like to spend a short time describing Biblical leadership by looking at who the leader is, what the leader does, and how the leader focuses. We can learn much from careful studies from Acts.
- Who is the biblical leader?
The biblical leader is a man of God (Acts 20:17-19; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-4). He is called to lead (Ephesians 4:7, 11. He leads by example (Acts 20:34-35; 1 Peter 5:3). He leads in humility (Acts 20:19).
- What does the leader do?
The biblical leader shepherds God’s flock. He feeds the flock from the Word of God (Acts 20:20, 27). He leads the flock through careful exhortation and encouragement (Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). He guards the flock through biblical teaching and warning (Acts 20:28-30; Colossians 1:28).
- What is the leader’s focus?
The biblical leader is a servant of God’s Church. He must focus on the ministry to which God as called him (Acts 20:24). He must focus on prayer and word (Acts 6:4). He must focus on the spiritual growth of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
This then leads to two important questions.
Are you called to be a leader of Christ–if so are you shepherding God’s flock?
Are the spiritual leaders–elders–in your church demonstrating this form of leadership?
Take this seriously. The church is not a business…it is the house of God and should be run by solid biblical principles.
 Shelley, Marshall. Renewing Your Church through Vision and Planning: 30 Strategies to Transform Your Ministry. Vol. 2. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1997. Print. Library of Leadership Development.