Foundational Characteristics for Church Leaders
Written by Dr. Frank A. Nuckolls
Associational Mission Strategist
Flint River Baptist Association, Griffin, Georgia
There is a great need for strong, effective leadership in the church of today. If a leader simply wants to maintain the status quo, he will fail in leading the church to accomplish its God-given mission and vision. Pastors and leaders in the church of today need to be people who understand the times and lead according to this understanding. The men of Issachar in David’s day, according to 1 Chronicles 12:32 were men who understood the times. 1 Chronicles 12:32 reads: “Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel was to do. . .” (NASB) What characteristics should leaders in today’s church exhibit? There are four foundational leadership characteristics that should be evident in today’s church leader.
Leaders must be secure in who God has called them to be and what He has called them to accomplish. This security provides the necessary freedom to make important, vital decisions and to take the appropriate risks, based on these decisions, even during uncertain times.
Demonstrate a positive attitude.
Leaders must demonstrate a positive attitude toward the future. The attitude of a leader establishes both the agenda for both how church leaders and the church view what is happening currently and could happen in the future. Leaders should be positive but never ignore real challenges. As Jon Gordon writes in his book, The Power of Positive Leadership: “Fear believes in a negative future. Faith believes in a positive future.” Leaders must lead based on faith not on fear. This kind of leadership will demonstrate a positive attitude.
Leaders must deliver a simple, not complex, message that the church leaders and the church can understand. This message should be simple yet wise as the leader seeks to guide the church and its leaders through uncertain times. The message an effective leader shares should be positive and never condescending.
Effective leaders must have the ability to move forward quickly and easily. They must be agile enough to lead the church and its leaders forward. In order to move quickly, easily, and forward, the leader should constantly seek to develop new approaches to ministry strategies and recognize that any approach should align with the greater mission and vision of the church.
Demonstrate a prayerful attitude.
Leaders in the church of today must never minimize the importance and power of prayer in their lives and the life of the church. E. M. Bounds writes in his book, Preacher and Prayer: “Every Pastor (leader) who does not make prayer a might factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God’s work and is powerless to project God’s cause in this world.” Effective leaders in the church of today must spend time in prayer and recognize that they are powerless without the guidance, teaching, and direction of the Holy Spirit. This power comes through prayer. A leader must demonstrate a prayerful attitude.
Every building must be built on a strong foundation in order to stand the test of time. Likewise, a strong, effective Christian leader in the church of today must seek to build his leadership, life, and ministry on a strong foundation in order to stand the test of even uncertain times. Church leaders must demonstrate these characteristics today as they lead by faith and not by fear.