What the Bible Says About Leading Well

God is leading. He is bringing redemption and restoration to the world.

And God leads through leaders. He gives them a vision to lead people from where they are to where they could and should be.

So, the first question in leading is, where do I want to lead people? The next question is, how do I get them there?

One of my favorite summaries of the principles of leadership is in the Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Here’s what it says: “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

This passage teaches us three crucial leadership principles for leading well. In the diagram above, these are principles for moving people along the arrow to where the “there.”

1. The leader needs to do the hard thing.
The word translated “idle and disruptive” refers to someone who has gotten out of line in a military formation. The leader has to confront those persons and things that are keeping people from moving in the right direction.

Oftentimes, this means talking to someone who is disruptive about what they are doing. If you are a leader, that’s what you’ve got to do.

Doing the hard thing may also mean making a decision that is best for the whole group or organization, even when particular people disagree or complain (who also may need to be confronted).

It may mean going first. When no one wants to do what needs to be done, leaders may need to take the first step.

Leaders need to do the hard thing.

2. Meet people where they are.
It’s easy to go overboard with principle #1. We think that whenever people aren’t doing what we want them to do, then we need to confront.

Principle #2 teaches us something different. Sometimes people are fighting against you, but at other times people are discouraged or unable to do what you are asking. This is why the Apostle Paul says next, “Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak.”

This isn’t always a matter of people being weak or discouraged. Sometimes meeting people where they are is just a matter of paying attention to what people actually do.

Here’s a very simple example. When I came to my current church, we got about a third of our children to come to Sunday School. Over the years, the leaders had tried all sorts of ways to get people to bring their children to church an hour before worship to Sunday School. It was only modestly effective.

Then, we wondered, if people don’t want to come early, would they stay once they were already ther to fellowship while their kids did Sunday School? What if we did Sunday School after church? We did so, and we got nearly 100% participation.

This is trying to meet people where they are.

3. Leadership is a process.
Whether you’re dealing with the disruptive, the weak, or the disheartened, remember that leadership is a process.

This is why Paul tells us to “be patient with everyone.”

It’s so easy for a leader to think, “I’ve got a great idea. Everyone should see it immediately!” No. It’s a process.

Someone once told me, when you’re tired of saying something, people are just beginning to get it. It takes time to communicate a vision. People need time to process it.

Be patient with everybody because leadership is a process.

God calls Christians to be leaders who are patient, compassionate, and firm. The best example is Jesus Himself. He did the hard thing, even when it meant the cross. He’s patient with us. He meets us where we are.

As believers in Christ, we have His example, and because of His resurrection we have His power. By His grace, we can lead others forward, even though it’s not easy.

We Were Made to Lead

God did not create human beings to sit around.

He wanted them to take leadership and do something.

Here’s what God said: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen. 1:28).

In other words, don’t leave things the way you see them. Take leadership to do significant things that bless yourselves and others and glorify God.

But we know the sad story. Adam didn’t exercise leadership. He let the devil walk all over him. We’ve been doing it ever since.

God didn’t leave the world there, though. He sent Jesus to redeem it.

It’s important to see that when we talk about “redemption” and “getting saved,” we are not just talking about forgiveness and going to heaven. Salvation means a restoration to what God originally intended for humanity.

So, salvation restores us to dominion and leadership. “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph. 2:10).

Jesus is called Christ because He is anointed to be a prophet, priest, and king. Christians have understood that they are called Christians because they share in this anointing. We are restored to kingship and leadership in Christ.

One ancient statement of faith, The Heidelberg Catechism, captures this well:

But why are you called a Christian? Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in his anointing. I am anointed to confess his name, to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a free conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for eternity.

God restores us to leadership, but He does more than restore. He wants us to partner with Him in what He is doing in bringing redemption and restoration to the world.

So, what does that mean for us practically? We need to change the way we view things. God is calling all people not only to receive His love but to be His partners and take leadership by His power in doing significant things that bless ourselves and others and bring glory to Him.

That’s how we should think of ourselves as believers in Christ.

God Uses Leaders

Leadership is a common topic in the modern world. Because it is so common, some people might think it’s just a secular topic and not a Christian one.

Consider, though, that God Himself is a leader. He is leading the world where He wants it to be.

But how does He lead? How does He move things forward in redemptive history? Generally, through leaders.

Even the most cursory reading of the Bible reveals this. God used Moses, David, Gideon, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and many others to lead people from where they were to where they needed to be.

Christian history reveals the same thing. He has used people like Martin Luther, John Wesley, Corrie ten Boom, and Billy Graham to move people forward.

On a daily level, he uses parents, pastors, friends, elders, and a host of others to lead people.

God also uses a host of people who have no leadership position but take leadership and action to meet needs, help people grow, move people out of bad situations, organize relief efforts, start initiatives, and connect people in relationships.

Far from being a minor theme, leadership is a major theme of the Bible and what God is doing in history. Most things that God does, He does through giving people a burden to do something when things could be and should be different and better.

God uses leaders.

So, what does this mean for us?

If we see a situation that needs to be changed, what we usually need is a leader.

So, first, pray for those who are leading and in leadership positions. If God works through leaders, we need to be asking God to protect them; to give them wisdom, strength, and compassion; and to give them courage to do what is right and good. If we care about those under their leadership, then we should pray for the leader.

Second, pray that God would raise up leaders. If something is not happening that needs to happen, then we may need new leaders who will step up and show the way.

Third, when things bother us, when we see the problems around us, when we see situations that break our hearts, we should consider if God is calling us to take leadership in those situations. If God uses people to lead others to a better place, then why not you? Why wait for someone else?

God is leading this world toward redemption, but He generally does it through leaders.

How Not to Bore People to Death with a Meeting

We’ve all been to meetings in which we were bored to death. Meetings can also be frustrating and seem like a total waste of time.

At my church, I have a friend named Art Stump. He is on our Church Admin team, plays keyboard in our band, and is a regional manager for Kitchen Collection.

He has a knack for making meetings interesting, profitable, and fun. So, I asked him, what are the most important things you’ve learned about leading a meeting?

He answered by giving 5 suggestions. They are worth thinking about and implementing.

Here’s what he wrote.

Art Stump: In thinking about leading meetings I tried not to necessarily consider “textbook” types of things. Instead I wanted to focus on things I believe I learned through the process of both leading meetings and, probably more so, sitting through meetings. I’m not saying I discovered any of this on my own, nor that I haven’t read and studied meetings, just that I thought mostly about what I’ve experienced myself.

So, here’s my list of 5 things I’ve learned about leading meetings. (This isn’t a Top 5 so there’s not a particular order to them):

  1. Attitude. Agenda. Action. I lumped these all together. The leader has to be positive, enthusiastic, and upbeat about the meeting. A well-planned meeting will always be more successful. Follow up is important to demonstrate to the participants that their time is important, productive, and meaningful.
  2. Don’t confuse straying with spontaneity. You want to allow space for discussion, letting the meeting progress, but you also need to stay on course. An issue or topic might be extremely important but that doesn’t mean it should be a part of that particular meeting.
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My Suggestions for Successfully Moderating a Meeting

WED_01A colleague of mine is going to moderate an upcoming presbytery meeting. He has served as a chaplain, and he wanted to discuss how he could run the meeting well. I asked him if he had run any meetings while he was in the military. “Yes,” he said, “but we didn’t get as deep into Robert’s Rules as we do at presbytery.” So, there you have it. Presbyterians are more strict on Robert’s Rules than the military.

Since my colleague wanted to discuss how to run a meeting successfully, I decided to try and express the principles that I have used to moderate session and presbytery meetings. I have also tried to provide some of the broad principles for the various motions so that you do not simply have to memorize the properties of each motion. Below you will find some of my thoughts. I would be interested in reading your ideas, if you would like to share them in the comment box. Here are a few principles that may be helpful in running a successful meeting:

  1. The key to being a moderator is preparation. You need to have a clear vision of everything that may happen at the meeting. Try to envision problems that may come up and issues that may need to be resolved. Study them beforehand, and the meeting will not get bogged down. Examine everything that will come before the body. Make sure it is in order, and, if not, try to correct it before the meeting. I cannot overstate that the key to a good meeting is careful preparation. This is true for the moderator and all the participants.
  2. Continue reading “My Suggestions for Successfully Moderating a Meeting”