Christian leadership is not for the feint hearted. Anyone going into Christian ministry should understand that there are significant challenges in this type of work. Running a ministry is entirely different to a business because we are involved in spiritual work. There are all kinds of dynamics involved when it comes to leading a Christian community.
This blog is not focusing on the organization and the challenges that leaders face in their communities. Rather I want to take a few minutes to consider the heart of the leader leading his or her community.
I have been in Christian ministry for over forty years now. I have seen the good, bad, and ugly. I have also seen leaders exit ministry because of hurt and failure. Yes, sometimes their communities have not treated them well, but in all honesty, I have to say that most often the issues that leaders confront are impacted by the decisions that they make when they face challenges. Sometimes those decisions are reactionary and they end in disaster for the leader and for the community. However, if a leader makes careful and deliberate decisions then they can turn catastrophic events into stepping stones for their future.
So what is the single most important question that a Christian leader can ask?
Simply: What is the condition of my heart? There is no other question more vital to the spiritual health of a leader.
Here are three reasons why this question is imperative for every leader to ask:
There is nothing more important in ministry than the state of a leader's heart: Skill is significant, but nothing is more important than the condition of the heart. Psalm 78:72 says; "And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands, he led them." The emphasis is 'integrity of heart.' If a leader lacks character then they will be found wanting.
- The condition of a leader's heart will determine their longevity: Yes, skill will get you to the top of the mountain but it won't keep you there. The single ingredient that will keep a leader in ministry is character. Put another way, the health of a leader's heart will determine their sustainability in ministry. My friend, we all face trials. We get kicked around, knocked about, bruised, and wounded, but we get up wipe the dust off and get going again. Challenging times are not the moments when we quit, they are the times we poke our finger in Satan's eye and get up and start again.
- The condition of a leader's heart will determine their future: There is no future for the man or woman that lack integrity. They may succeed for a time, but ultimately they will fail. As someone once said: 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time'. Eventually the real person does shine through.
- The condition of a leader's heart will determine their success: I do think we need to re-evaluate success. For a lot of Christians success is all about budgets and numbers. Of course those elements of ministry are very important and I do not want to undermine their value. However, ministry success is much more than budgets and numbers. Ministry success is about health and longevity of the leader and the community they lead.
My prayer is that every Christian leader will make the condition of their heart a priority. When the heart is right everything is right. Likewise when the heart is full of pride, deceit, anger, and malice then everything is wrong. Too much hinges on the health of our hearts for us to neglect them. Let us ensure that we will make our heart our top priority.
I am and always will be,
recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,