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A Christian Leader is one who “patterns Jesus” in his life and inspires others thereby to follow him! (Hebrews 13:7; Philippians 3:17)
Two types of Leaders
A local Church should have two types of Leaders based on what we read about the early Church in Acts 13. That is, it should have Maintenance Leaders (Pastoring/Teachers) and Destination Leaders. (Prophets/Apostles) Maintenance Leaders (James) teach the Flock and rest it while Destination Leaders (Paul) equip the Flock and drive it!
Both styles of leadership build the church but if one or the other is lacking, with the passing of time, the Flock will either stagnate and become observers or become hyper-spiritual and confused. Maintenance Leaders cement the people of God in the ways of God and Destination Leaders cement the people of God into the purposes of God. Thus the one deals with knowledge and the other with vision. When both styles operate together the result is wisdom and impact! A true apostolic leader can discharge both callings and leadership styles! These are not easily found.
The Joseph Syndrome
Leaders in God’s Kingdom are appointed on the basis of recognition. That is, they are not “man made” but “God made” and with the passing of time become evident. (Acts16:1-3) These Leaders will have to learn to serve and therefore, if God is working in them, will have to be weaned off self-importance etc. This will mean embracing the Joseph Syndrome! (Psalm 105:16-22)
1. The vision given.
2. The vision removed.
3. The vision tested.
4. The vision renewed.
5. The vision fulfilled.
In my own life I well remember when one night while sleeping I was awakened suddenly with a voice in my head that quoted a scripture that at that time I had no idea where it was from. It stated, “I and the children given to me are for signs and wonders in Israel.” I quickly found out in the morning that it came from Isaiah 8:18. The vision was given and thus in 1986 a real door opened for us to go to Israel.
After three years this door closed and we returned to South Africa. I well remember asking the Lord about this and He said to me, “Your time is not yet.” The vision was removed!
I thus got back into church planting and with all these challenges the vision seemed to pale into insignificance but something kept burning in my heart. The vision was tested! Would I believe that God had something unique for me and my family in Israel? Daryl, my son had gone to the United Kingdom, Charmaine had married and done the same and Liesl was off on short term mission trips into Africa. In the natural the “vision” appeared remote as how would God pull all this together? It seemed impossible even for the Lord!!! The vision was being tested!
However, it burned in my heart and strangely, though circumstances contradicted it, I began to believe in it again. The vision was being renewed and my faith in God was based on who He is and not on how big is the problem. I began to get restless though in a very blessed situation and suddenly Daryl was independently called out of the UK and went to Israel to join the ministry of the ICEJ. Liesl came back from a short term mission trip and told us that Jesus had called her to Israel and that she was going. She too departed and then eight months later I received a phone call from the ICEJ International Board and was offered the job in Jerusalem of Executive Director. We too left and joined our two children there and then three years later Charmaine, because of challenging circumstances, was forced to leave the United Kingdom and take up residence in Israel. The whole family was in Israel and thus the vision was fulfilled! In time it was even more greatly fulfilled in that our daughter-in-law, Kati and our son-in-law, Bram, also joined the family as a consequence of being in Israel. How amazing are the ways of God, but He had all along given us notice of them through His dealings with Joseph. The truth is; we are really slow to learn!
The David Syndrome
David was a great leader and we learn much from him about this calling. From his life we can define leadership as:
1. The ability to gather followers. So you get good and bad leaders! Saul gathered followers but he was a bad leader.
2. The ability to embrace God’s character. This is what set David apart; he had a heart after God. (Acts 13:22; 2Samuel 22)
3. The ability to equip and envision people. David’s list of “Mighty Men” is very inspiring. (1Chronicles 12)
4. The ability to live in the future. Good leaders have a “God Dream”. David saw a house for the Lord and a glorious messianic reign. (Psalm 2)
5. The ability to bring the future into the present. David made preparations for the future.(1Chrinicles 22:5)
6. The ability to recognize that what you did today is your future! (Galatians 6:7)
In the 1980s the Holy Spirit pricked my conscience and urged me to speak out against Apartheid in a theological way. Some twenty years later I was faced with court action in the United Kingdom and because I was a white South African my accusers assumed that I supported the Apartheid regime and thus accused me of racism. My preaching and actions twenty years before collapsed their case against me! In the 1980s my future was definitely the present!
The Leader’s Syndrome
Good leaders always have the same things in common:
1. They learn. That is, they are familiar with every sphere of their operation. (2Timothy 2:15)
2. They educate. That is, they pour time and money into their team players and they never stop educating themselves. (Colossians 1:28)
3. They acknowledge. That is, they shoulder responsibility, weakness, failure and success. (James 4:10)
4. They demand. That is, they are robust, firm and fair. Respect is earned not given! A good leader will at first be regarded with suspicion but he will, in the end, earn the respect of his followers. (Titus 2:15)
5. They encourage and show appreciation. The leader’s authority is to edify and build up and not to condemn and tear down! (2Corinthians 10:8)
6. They endure conflict and hardship. (2Timothy 2:1-7; 2Timothy 4:5) They will even be spoken evil of! (2Corinthians 6:4-10)
The Leader’s Legacy
Some leaders leave behind discontent, failure and division! The Church is full of these types of leaders. However, a godly leader will:
1. Plan for succession! Good leaders plan for the day when they will not be around! David is the supreme example of this.
2. Know when to leave. Paul left Ephesus and the elders etc wept! (Acts 20:17-28) It is not a blessing when leaders leave and the people rejoice!
3. Remodel and reculturize an organization before they leave. Their esteem and value will enable the “primary group” to transform with them! A “new wineskin” is always required in order to carry the blessing of God. The message never changes but the way it is conveyed does. A good leader will discern this! (Mark 2:21-22)
4. Leave resources, skilled people and a good name. As a consequence generations will rise up and call him blessed! (Proverbs 10:7)
©Malcolm Hedding Ministries