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Leadership Essentials

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Leadership Essentials

CCG Ministries’ Chairman, and senior pastor of the Thornlie Church of Christ, Rob Furlong, wrote the following comments in response to the question of what he thought constituted a Biblical model of leadership.

The following points are the essence of what I believe constitutes a Biblical model for leadership in today’s church.

1. A growing Spiritual life:

This is manifested in two areas:

a) Prayer: The Christian leader is a praying person and this can only come through the school of disciplining yourself to actually pray. I believe it was Oswald Sanders who said, ’Pray when you do feel like it; pray when you don’t feel like it; pray until you do feel like it.’ The Christian leader will always lead and call others to personal and corporate prayer.

b) Regular and systematic reading of Scripture: For a number of years it was my habit to read through the entire Bible every second year in a different translation. In recent times, I have read through the N.T. one year and the O.T. the next. For 2 - 3 years I made it my discipline to read Proverbs ever July, a kind of mid-year reflection. (Proverbs has 31 chapters, July 31 days… so 1 chapter per day!). I find I preach more effectively when I read Scripture diligently. Yearly devotionals are also a great help in getting some discipline built back into your life. A few that I recommend to the people I pastor are: Swindoll’s The Finishing Touch, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers and On This Day by Robert Morgan.

2. A Commitment To Biblical


A lot of what passes for preaching and teaching today has more to do with ’pop psychology’ with some helpful Christian/Biblical advice thrown in. The trouble is, more and more people are becoming less and less familiar with the Bible and the great doctrines of the Christian faith. I believe Christian leaders must commit to teaching the Bible with freshness, creativity, relevance, and above all, integrity; i.e. let the text determine what it is saying rather than superimposing your ideas upon the text. This means then, a commitment to expository preaching and therefore, a commitment to study and hard work.

Biblical integrity also means that we live out what we teach. As Ravi Zacharias said in Amsterdam in July/August 2000, ’When our lives match the message that we preach, something powerful takes place.’

3. A sense that you are called by God:

I talk to a lot of young guys who seem to have ’fallen’ into ministry; eg. ’I’m good with young people so I became a youth Pastor.’ Not much is said these days about the call to ministry, yet we see it everywhere in Scripture; eg. Moses, Samuel, David, Paul. It is not surprising then at the high dropout in ministry. I believe passionately in God’s call to the ministry - it is what keeps you through the tough times.

4. A commitment to personal integrity:

The basic sense of integrity, according to the Latin word from which our English word is derived, is that of ’wholeness.’ Integrity then is more than honesty - it means there is a wholeness about you. Your yes means yes, your no means no. When you say you will do something, you do it.

5. Moral purity:

This is particularly manifested, if you are married, in the way you love and care for your wife. Over nearly 22 years of marriage, I have sought to build the following Biblical hedge around my marriage:

1. I do not flirt with women

2. I only hug close female friends (and not all the time!)

3. I have nothing to do with pornography

4. I am very careful about being alone with other women; eg. In counselling situations, appointments, etc.

5. I do not encourage women to lean on me heavily - this helps avoid the problem of transference.

6. I am careful about the way in which I pay a woman compliments.

These ’rules’ may seem old fashioned and a little legalistic but the fruit for me is a loving and growing relationship with my wife!

6. A Biblical vision:

A lot of so called vision these days boils down to hype and the Pastor/Leader’s agenda for the Church. Prov. 29:18 is often quoted as support for this type of approach:

’Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained (or: ’perish, cut loose’).’

However, the rest of the verse is seldom, if ever, quoted:

’But happy is he who keeps the law.’

What that tells you is that vision is closely related to God’s Word; i.e. we should be asking, ’What does God want for His Church; in particular, for the Church of which I am a leader?’ And the only way to discover that is to study the Bible.

7. A willingness to confront:

Leaders must be willing and able to confront sin in the life of a Church at both an individual and corporate level. This must always be done in humility and grace and with a desire to restore the person spiritually and in their relationship with others. It is one of the great disasters of the modern evangelical Church that we have abandoned the principles of Church discipline as set out in Mt. 18:15-20 and this has become a cause of much unholiness in the Church today. Leaders must courageously lead their people back to these principles.

8. Shepherding:

It is high time that Church leaders abandon the CEO mentality that has invaded the Church and return to the Biblical model of the Shepherd. (See Ps. 23 for the model of God as our Shepherd; Jesus’ own model in Mt. 9:35 - 38 and Peter’s exhortation in 1 Pet. 5:1-4 (cf. also Paul in Acts 20:17 -35, esp. vv. 28-31). People have had enough of the CEO/Corporate model, which abounds in our society - people want to be loved and cared for as people (for example: check out the Bendigo Bank T.V. commercials!)

This does not mean that you should pastor everyone but it does mean taking what God’s Word says about it seriously and working that out in your own local context.

Two good books on this are: Escape From Church, Inc. by Glenn E. Wagner and Loving God by Chuck Colson (The latter is an excellent treatise on what being the Church is really all about).

9. A commitment to reading:

One of the great tragedies and shames of modern Christians is that they do not read. Read widely and read well and plan your reading out. Read to study, read to be informed and read for leisure (I have found that reading good novelists who know how to tell a good story helps me to be a better story teller).

10. Be a life-long learner:

This is closely related to points 1,2, and 9 above. I don’t ever want to reach the place where I think I know it all and have nothing to learn. My goal is that at 90 I will still be reading, learning and teaching from God’s Word - I don’t want to be falling asleep in front of a T.V. screen!

(From TACL Vol 24 #4 Aug/Sep 2003)