Two Principles of Grace-Based Leadership
What is Christian leadership and why is it important? Without a shepherd, a flock of sheep will get lost or eaten. If leadership is not rooted in grace, the consequences can be equally dire. After all, the lives of people who follow a leader will either be enhanced or worsened; there is no in-between.
The desire to lead can stem from a problematic place, like greed. There are also instances wherein someone might declare themselves a leader, but no one is even following them. It is important for us to understand what grace-based leadership looks like so we can identify or exemplify it; I want to highlight two key Christian leadership principles.
Real leaders will not promote themselves. God appoints leaders. When you encounter someone who promotes themselves as a leader or the best person to be in charge, assume the exact opposite. Anyone who self-campaigns, who reveals a self-promotive trait, has a flawed character. Many studies reveal that those who are overconfident and boastful in their abilities are viewed as not only egotistical but not more equipped than anyone else (which means that for all their bragging and self-confidence, they are not making the impact they imagine). If someone is appointed by God, there will be no need for them to brag. Remember: there is no shadow in His gifts because what He gives is always good and perfect.
- Secure in the Call
You must be secure in what God made you to be; this is one of the most important Christian leadership qualities. If a musician has been called to be a musician, this person should not be a pastor.
The trees once went out to anoint a king over them. They said to the olive tree, ‘Rule over us!’ “Yet the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I stop making oil, by which God and men are honored, to go and sway over the trees?’ “So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and rule over us.’ “Yet the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I stop making my sweet aroma and my fruit, to go and sway over the trees?’ “So the trees said to the grapevine, ‘You come and rule over us.’ “Yet the grapevine said to them, ‘Should I stop making my fresh wine, which cheers God and men, to go and sway over the trees?’ (Judges 9:8-13, MEV).
Just as the fig tree, the olive tree, and the grapevine were secure, I am asking you to be secure in whatever God has called you to be. There are several ways to know that someone is not secure in their role or call.
Signs of Insecure Leadership
The first sign of insecurity is threatening leadership. There’s nobody on the planet like you when you have the anointing on your life, but if you step out of your anointing in an attempt to be like somebody else, it dishonors God, it dishonors men, and you end up trying to lead with intimidation and fear. Insecure leaders have to threaten people to get them to stick around and follow them.
Another sign of insecure leadership is an unwillingness to serve. Serving doesn’t dawn on some leaders because they are so desperate to have control over people. This reveals their inferiority: when you’re hungry for the opportunity to dominate someone else, you reveal your lack of understanding. The true greatness of leadership is found through service. You can only build a church with team players that desire serving other people. A leader doesn’t want someone to follow them; a real leader wants people to join them. God’s given us authority over all the earth and everything that’s in the earth, but He’s never given us the authority to control people; that can’t be a mark of your leadership.
The last sign I will mention is hypocrisy. We punish people in our church when they sin and we call it restoration, but that’s not restoration, that’s punishment. Yes, we must deal with certain issues publicly if someone is in danger, but we must keep in mind that everyone in the house of the Lord has an issue. We perpetuate hypocrisy in the church when we harm or judge others for their flaws, since we have our own. It might be anger, it might be pride, but it’s definitely something. If anyone says they have no issue, then we know they have an issue with self-righteousness. As leaders, we might warn against gossiping, but we’re often the number one gossiper. While it is important to guide others in the right direction, we must not become blind to our own wayward behavior and allow this blindness to harm others.
Understanding grace-based leadership allows the body of Christ to remain strong. I believe breakoff ministries started by insecure people and those who go into ministry for selfish gain are the reason the contemporary church can’t get a lot done. Like the olive tree, fig tree, and grapevine, be who God appointed you to be. Guard yourself and your ministry by only allowing leadership that is based in grace.