Photo: William “Iron Mike” Leftwich at the Marine Corps Basic School, Quantico, VA
Christian leadership is the antithesis of secular leadership.
The transition from military to pastoral leadership has been the gradual reformation of my leadership paradigm. I’ve written about some of that reformation here. While judgment, moral courage, and self-discipline serve as assets in the spiritual arena, their application is markedly different. The motifs of shepherd, servant, and slave seem so counterintuitive to a military where rank has its privileges. To this day, I am confronted with military leadership instincts which lead down the wrong ministerial path. This truth, as I’ve experienced it, is why pastoral leadership models that lean heavily on secular principles are often doing it all wrong. Brothers, we are not flag officers.
Not all pastoral leadership books are created equal. Instinctually, I tend to discount anything written within recent memory. After all, leadership is validated over the long haul and not in a conceptual test tube. But it wouldn’t be fair to discount everything based on youth or validate solely based on tenure.
You’ll notice many leadership books are written by wonderful Christians who serve in parachurch or academic ministries. In fact, many of the quotes below are from such men. Yet, let me encourage you to pay special attention to the counsel of men who serve in the pastorate. Leading a church is like pushing a rope; it’s an organism, not an organization. The men who lead churches are acutely aware of this reality and speak from an overflow of having undertaken this difficult task.
The quotes below represent the surface of an ever-growing bibliography of pastoral leadership sources. I hope you enjoy as you reflect on the ministry of Pastoral Leadership.
“If Christians around the world were to suddenly renounce their personal agendas, their life goals and their aspirations, and begin responding in radical obedience to everything God showed them. the world would be turned upside down. How do we know? Because that’s what first century Christians did, and the world is still talking about it.” – Blackaby in Spiritual Leadership
“the most powerful leaders among us are the teachers among us.” – Gary Bredfeldt in Great Leader Great Teacher
To help readers in “becoming the leader God intends me to be rather than doing the leading God intends me to do.” – Jeff Iorg in The Character of Leadership
“Success is the breeding ground for pride.” – Jeff Iorg in The Character of Leadership
“The last fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Self-discipline refers to the self as the object of discipline rather than its source.” – Jeff Iorg in The Character of Leadership
“It is reprehensible for any Christian leader to expect discipled behavior from the unconverted.” – Jeff Iorg in The Character of Leadership
“God would rather demonstrate his presence through a humble leader than through a thousand cathedrals we might build to house him.” – Jeff Iorg in The Character of Leadership
“Christian leadership and worldly leadership are markedly different. They are not the same, never have been the same, and stand in stark contrast to each other.” – Jeff Iorg in The Character of Leadership
“But the issue, the key issue, is motive. The aroma surrounding our actions—the unmistakable aroma of Jesus Christ—is what marks real servant leaders.” – Jeff Iorg in The Character of Leadership
“Leaders enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.” – Jim Kouzes in Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge
Ministry is: “about preaching the historic Jesus, who is both Lord and Messiah, in words and actions, enabling people to respond to his message, enter his kingdom, and grow in appreciation of this gospel, its depth and its implications, and grow to maturity in Christ, in the new community of which he is head, whatever circumstances they face, by people who are qualified in gift, understanding and holiness, working together with others, for the glory of God’s name” – Derek Tidball in Ministry by the Book
“Here is one of the rich ironies in the history of salvation: the heavenly Jerusalem, it turns out, was all along as much anticipated by the deserts and dispersions of the community’s journey as by the earthly city bearing its name. In both experiences the Shepherd-Lamb was teaching them to follow him to their real home.” – Tim Laniak in Shepherd’s After My Own Heart
“The greatest crisis in the world today is a crisis of leadership, and the greatest crisis of leadership is a crisis of character.” – Aubrey Malphurs in Being Leaders
“The ability to see faults is a cheap and common gift” – Gene Edwards
Commenting on James 4:15 – “What James warns us about is that our freedom to make plans is not a license to live free from God.” – Haddon Robinson in Decision-Making by the Book
“Spiritual goals can be achieved only by spiritual people who use spiritual methods” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“True Greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you. True Service is never without cost. Often it comes with a painful baptism of suffering.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“We can lead others only as far along the road as we ourselves have traveled. Merely pointing the way is not enough. If we are not walking, then no one can be following, and we are not leading anyone.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight; But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“A Vision without a task makes a visionary. A task without a vision makes drudgery. A Vision with a task makes a missionary.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“If knowledge is the accumulation of facts, and intelligence the development of reason, wisdom is heavenly discernment.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“The spiritual leader must outpace the rest in prayer.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“Our problem is not too little time, but making better use of the time we have.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“Disciples are not manufactured wholesale. They are produced one by one, because someone has taken the pains to discipline, to instruct and enlighten, to nurture and to train one that is spiritually younger.” – J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership
“Prayer moves the arm that moves the world to bring deliverance down.” – Unknown
“Give me a man of God–one man, one mighty prophet of the Lord, And I will give you peace on earth, Bought with a prayer and not a sword.” –George Liddell
“God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s Support” – Hudson Taylor
“Every church needs to grow warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, stronger through through worship, and larger through evangelism.” – Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church
“A long pastorate does not guarantee a church will grow, but changing pastors every few years guarantees a church won’t grow.” – Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church
“Ministry must be both faithful and fruitful. God expects both from us.” – Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church
“You only believe the part of the Bible that you do.” – Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church
“Transformation will not happen by chance.” – Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church
“People give to vision, not to need.” – Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church
“There is no method, program, or technology that can make up for a lack of love for unbelievers.” – Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church
“Reading makes a broad man, but writing makes an exact man.” – Francis Bacon