To be a Christian leader is no small calling. Whether you serve as a church pastor, a lay leader, or a Christian who leads in the secular world, you are under obligation to be a strong and faithful witness for Christ. Here are several texts that should challenge you—and provide you a grid through which to evaluate your life today.
1. 1 Timothy 3:2-7
While directed primarily at elders, this passage is not intended to be limited to those in that role. These texts describe a mature Christian whose lifestyle is clearly affected by his beliefs. I fear that we read these verses when first considering leadership, but fail to come back to them as regularly as we should.
An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy—one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap. (HCSB)
2. Joshua 1:8
We are to follow the Word of God. No exceptions.
This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it.
3. Mark 9:35
Contrary to the world’s idea of leadership, Christian leadership equals servanthood.
Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
4. John 3:30
John the Baptist’s words about Jesus must ring true from our lips as well. The work of Christian leadership is always about Christ and never about us.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
5. Philippians 2:3
Christian leadership has no room for arrogance. Period.
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
6. Matthew 12:36
As Christian leaders whose work is so connected to our words, we have a high level of accountability for our speech.
“I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”
7. 1 Corinthians 11:1
We must live like the Apostle Paul – in such a way that if others imitated our lives fully, they would thus be imitating Christ. That’s a lofty calling.
“Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.”
8. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Though these verses particularly address Paul’s life, the theme echoes throughout Scripture: we lead best not in our strength, but in our weakness.
Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
9. 2 Timothy 3:12
Following Jesus is costly. Christian leadership might, in fact, bring victory in a way most leaders seldom consider: through persecution and death.
In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Use these texts today to assess your walk with God. If you need to confess and repent, do so (and if you determine that you have no room for improvement, you might want to go back and review #5 above).
What other texts would you add to this list?
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on August, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.