My Leadership Philosophy
Throughout Scripture there are numerous examples of excellent leadership. These examples show us how to live a God fearing life and be an inspiration to others. These great leaders modeled the way for all believers who would come to call Christ, King. Of these leaders some have been of profound influence on my own life and leadership philosophy. The concentration of the body of this manuscript will be to (1) theologize leadership models in Scripture; (2) observe the focus of my ministry; (3) discern my attitudes towards whom I am called to lead; (4) examine my motivations for ministering; connote my personal values in ministry.
King Josiah. Of all the kings of Israel, Josiah became king at the youngest age; he was eight years old. It is said of Josiah that he followed the ways of his father (ancestor) David. Not much is said for Josiah’s former years, but while in his mid twenties he laid out a vision for the people of Israel; they were to clean the temple that had fallen into a state of disrepair. Josiah knew his vision for the nation, he laid it out simply, and he trusted those in positions to help him actualize this vision.
Josiah asked that the money for paying the carpenters, builders, and masons to not be counted, because he trusted them; he stated, “They deal faithfully.” While under this construction the book of the law was discovered and brought to King Josiah. It was recited in his presence and he immediately knew its significance; Josiah knew that Israel would face a perilous fate if their moral desertion were not addressed. Josiah showed wisdom in this situation by sending the priest to inquire of the Lord; Josiah sought counsel with God Himself so as to not offend him further. It was because of Josiah’s humility towards the Lord and his leadership over the people that abated the wrath of God for another generation.
Return to God. Josiah gathered the nation of Judah together to hear of the book found in the temple so that all would know to follow its precepts. He gathered the highest of authorities to the lowest of the people, from priests and prophets to the common people. Josiah understood that in order to change the corrupt culture it would not be a top down or a bottom up approach; it would take everyone concurrently working together.
Josiah recognized the profane idol worship and had the temple cleansed of its false gods. Josiah also cleaned out the male temple prostitutes, which were in the temple in addition to the pagan deities. Parents were sacrificing their children to Molech, and Josiah defiled Topheth so that this practice would cease from being performed. He also destroyed the roof altars that were on the upper chamber of Ahaz.
Josiah was a reformer; he fervently transformed Judah to conform to the book of the law that was found inside the temple. Though Josiah was a reformer, and an ardent one, he did not do so in a haphazard manner. When Josiah defiled the altars of false gods, he discovered a monument to an unnamed prophet of God who warned some 290 years beforehand that a child named Josiah would later sacrifice the bones of dead false priests on that very altar. Once he was told of the prophet, he instructed the men to not destroy this monument to this prophet from Samaria. Even though Josiah was a reformer, he also recognized what should stay as well as what should be destroyed; he knew what edified or defiled the country. It is said of Josiah, that there was no King like him, either before or after.
I can imagine the people being shocked at his reforms and strict adherence to the Lord’s book. His eyes were opened and he saw what he and everyone else had been doing wrong; he knew that changes had to be made in order for Judah to be its best. This is one leader we may have indeed never heard of had it not been that he was challenged to change the status quo for Judah through reading the book of the law. He came upon the Law unintentionally, but it is what he did with the newfound knowledge that made the difference for the nation of Judah.
- Weeping is typically not what some would look for in leadership, but it is a trait I admire; it shows that one cares enough for a people or cause. Nehemiah was one such person; when he asked of the fate of the Jewish people and the current state of Jerusalem, he began to weep and continued doing so for days.
Warren Wiersbe says it best:
What makes people laugh or weep is often an indication of character. People who laugh at others’ mistakes or misfortunes, or who weep over trivial personal disappointments, are lacking either in culture or character, and possibly both. Sometimes weeping is a sign of weakness; but with Nehemiah, it was a sign of strength
In a similar manner to Josiah above, Nehemiah recognized the corruption of the people. He also was a reformer. He recognized the corruption of the people and of the nation of Judah, both spiritually and physically. He longed to rebuild the broken down walls of his forefathers. Nehemiah was a wise man and he recognized that he was still under the control of King Artaxerxes; thus, he used diplomatic negotiation in order to embark on the journey and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Like Nehemiah, a good leader must never be afraid to ask a difficult question, even if it is costly. Nehemiah was in a trusted position in the kingdom, he was the king’s cupbearer, but this position was not without its jeopardies. Cupbearers tested the wine before the king drank it so Nehemiah was a brave man. Nehemiah could very well have lost his life for asking to rebuild Jerusalem as the king could have seen this as a rebellious act. Nehemiah understood that in order for his dream to be actualized, that he needed to seize the initiative. As Kouzes and Posner states, “Seizing the initiative has absolutely nothing to do with position. It’s about attitude and action.”
Nehemiah recognized the need and what supplies it required, thus he asked Artaxerxes to provide him letters for the timber and permission to pass through territories. His leadership philosophy is much like my own; one must not act out alone; it takes a vision, a well thought out plan, and support from those in possession of the required materials to actualize the vision. Nehemiah also recognized that it took skills to see that the mission is completed.
Once Nehemiah arrived at Jerusalem, he sets out to inspect the walls; he knew that if he was to have them repaired, he needed to know their condition. Once he inspected the damaged walls, he sought out the help of the people. He also informed them that King Artaxerxes sanctioned this endeavor, so there would be no repercussions for rebuilding Jerusalem’s defenses. However, this plan did not proceed without resistance; two foreign individuals (Sanballat and Tobiah) resisted the notion, mainly because Jerusalem was not their home. Nehemiah squelched this mocking rebuttal by stating that God was on their side and he would see to it they had success; he also reminded them that they had no part in the endeavor at all.
It was not long until the wall was completely joined up to half of its total height; Nehemiah affirmed, “They had a mind to work.” This statement from Nehemiah is considerable and often overlooked. He rallied the people in such a way that they were motivated to do the work; they did not work half-heartedly, they bought into the mission and sought out to do everything possible to fulfill it.
Resistance was met again with rumors of enemies wanting to come down and kill the people so as to stop the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah took these threats seriously and stationed people at the weaker points of the wall in order to defend the city from outsiders. The threats were dealt with and further provisions were made from that point on so as to be ready for a possible attack; workers carried building supplies and weapons for defense. Every man who was capable carried a sword as he rebuilt the walls, to include Nehemiah. Nehemiah led by example, he did not see himself as a noble who was too virtuous to get his hands soiled, he acted just like everyone else; he was willing to do the same work he asked others to do. Nehemiah saw himself as no different or more important than anyone else; when he heard of plans of some to assassinate him at night, he did not run and shut himself in the temple as was suggested; he recognized the ploy of the enemy to try and cause him to flee. Nehemiah realized the mission was bigger than himself; he was willing to die to protect the city. Fifty-two days after the work began, the walls were completed. Nothing deterred Nehemiah from realizing his vision, he stayed focused and rallied the people support the vision.
The purpose of my ministry will be two-fold: (1) leading the lost to Christ, and (2) strengthening those in Christ already. Fred Smith states, “Writing your purpose forces you to be disciplined in your thinking. You come to see the need for a vision broad enough that everything you do can be tied in. But the vision must also be focused enough that it sets some boundaries. The vision must state what you will do and what you won’t do.” With this in mind I see the focus of the ministry as Apologetic in nature; a ministry geared towards bringing skeptics in and strengthening those already in Christ by teaching them the reasons and evidences that prove the Christianity true.
Leading to Christ. The purpose of the ministry is ultimately to fulfill the Great Commission and to so through intelligent discourse. How does one go about leading another person to Christ? For this answer, one must look at whom he or she wants to lead to Christ. A different approach should be taken for a different individual; it is not as easy as saying “you need Jesus.” People—especially millennials—do not know why they need Jesus, we have to start at the beginning and go from there. This is why Apologetics is necessary. Many churches are dwindling in numbers and I believe this is due to their lack of focus. All too often we have program after program being ran in order to reach a lost generation, but all too often the true focus is lost in the process. Organizations tend to pay more attention to the creative content rather than who the content is actually for. It is made to be entertaining rather than convicting. If anyone is to reach this skeptical generation, entertainment must take a back seat to intent and content.
As mentioned above, I aim to reach the lost for Christ, particularly those who are skeptical of faith in Christ. Many who are skeptical of Christianity have this notion that we believe in Christ because the Bible tells us so—which is circular reasoning. The truth is Christians believe, or at least should believe based on the witness of the Holy Spirit and supporing evidence; this is where apologetics comes into play.
1 Peter 3:15 is the battle cry for Christian apologists everywhere. We are all to give reasons for the hope that is within us. When I was a child and asked the question, “why believe in God.” The answer I received was “It is the right thing to do” and “Don’t question God.” I also heard “Just believe.” At a young age I knew these were terrible answers and I sought out why I should believe in God. Many experiences of young individuals today echo a similar disdain for the “blind faith” of others. If we are to seek out new converts, we had better have good reasons for doing so; statements like “just believe” and the aforementioned others are very subjective, whereas evidence is not.
In order to witness to unbelieving skeptics one must learn their reasons for unbelief; it is through the demolishing of these barriers that one will lead another person to Christ. The Apostle Paul used evidence and reasoning to convince both Jews and Greeks; he used the Scriptures to show the Jews and sculptures and poetry to convince the Greeks. This approach should be that of all Christians wanting to witness to others.
The vision is to go wherever the lost are, whether they are in a state of disbelief because they are skeptical due to a false epistemology. I have spent a great deal of time strengthening my knowledge in Apologetics and philosophy to be able break down barriers to faith and also to be able to defend it against naysayers who are looking to squelch the ministry of Christians. This brings me to the next point for apologetics, which is defensive in nature.
- How many Christians have lost their faith due to subjective reasons. For instance, I know of many atheists who lost their faith in Christ because of a bad experience or they ran across a difficulty they could not overcome. Just as apologetics would help bring the lost to Christ it will also help keep those in Christ, stay in Christ.
The ministry focus is to train more apologists, not to just hear a good sermon and go about business as usual. Jesus spent three years equipping his followers to take on his mission once he was gone and this is the goal of apologetics as well. It is to turn each believer into a kingdom builder; the teaching they are handed in turn gets handed to others. This same training that is given to them to lead others to Christ will also aid them in the defense of their own faith. Too often modern Christians are left without answers—not because there are none—but because they are not aware of them. This is a shame on the church and a trend that my ministry will attempt to curb. Thus, this second focus is essentially discipling Christians so that they can defend themselves and raise up more Christians. Christ told the disciples in Luke 21:15 that he would give them a mouth in which no adversary could defeat; this is the goal of Christian apologetics, and it is the aim of my ministry to equip believers to defend their faith against the forces of secularism.
Zero Distinction. My attitude must be tantamount to the one James echoed in James 2:1-10. In this letter, James tells the people to show no partiality between the rich and the poor. Being that I feel called to lead the lost to Christ and teach those in Christ to defend their faith I can apply this to my leadership philosophy as not showing a preference between those who do and do not have faith.
Paul made zero distinctions between the Jew and Greek; he saw them both as needing God and did whatever it took to lead them to Christ. With this in mind I must make no distinction between people regardless of their cultural upbringing. Everyone who does not have Christ is lost; this is to be the only distinction, they need him.
My attitude must also be one of authenticity. If people are to follow me and be a part of my ministry, they must be able to trust me. If I wish to sponsor a ministry of collaboration I must be transparent. People will not follow someone they do not trust, and if they do not trust someone, they will not hear their message at all. Unfortunately many churches and organizations are not known for their authenticity; scandal after scandal has hurt the reputation of churches everywhere. This is where transparency is important; I must be clear with everyone about my shortcomings and own them. If I am upfront and honest about my faults and failures it will foster a trusting and authentic environment where real evangelism can be done.
Two things come to mind when I think of motivations for ministry. They are (1) serving Christ and (2) serving others. At first glance, the two seem unequal, but they are essentially tantamount to one another. Christ said that if we serve others it is as if we did it for him.
Serving Christ. My objective in ministry is to serve Christ with everything I have in me. Knowing what God did for me, that he knew the depth of my depravity and was still willing to take on my sin as his own motivates me to serve him and build up his kingdom. He gave his all for me, so I am motivated to do the same for him, not out of obligation, but out of a genuine love for him. Charles Tidwell states, “one thing that is known is that there is a direct correlation between the perceived worthiness of a cause and the willingness of persons to support that cause.” It is because I see the cause of Christ as the most worthy of all that I am motivated to be about his business. I wish to do my utmost in order to glorify him to the highest extent possible. Christ did not deserve the punishment he endured on my behalf—I did—and for this reason I will serve and worship him to the best of my ability.
Serving Others. As a Christian I am a servant of God and also a servant of my brothers and sisters in Christ. This does not mean I have eight hundred masters in the church—I have just one master. What this actually means is that the best way to serve others is to lead others. Whether it be leading them to Christ in the first place or finding them a place to use their gifts and talents in the church. Leaders do not solicit every piece of advice that comes their way, rather they ask the people working to work, and to do it well.
In ministry I must always ask myself if I am satisfying my ego through it or sacrificing my ego to it? This means always ensuring that God gets the first word. Serving others is no easy task, but I am called to do it. I am motivated to serve others by the words of Christ; he motivates me to do my best for him and others that need him. His words motivate me; they have the power to make things happen.
It is values that guide me everyday, whether it is ministry, work, or life at home. It is how I navigate life; values are essentially my compass. I decipher information through this lens to determine what is good and what might be unscrupulous, what to do and what not to do.
- As a leader, I value unity in the organization. This is not to say that everyone must be of the same exact opinion at all costs. Rather, what I mean is everyone knows that Christ is the head of the church and we worship him in unity. It also means having everyone on the same page and this entails knowing what the overarching vision is for the ministry. As a leader I recognize that it is beneficial to have a difference of opinion, and to seek resolutions in these disputes and then continue in unity once the differences are settled. Unity is not everyone being exactly the same, rather it is everyone on the same mission and that is reaching the lost for Christ.
- Knowing what is right and wrong is not enough; doing what is right and not what is wrong is what is important. Terry Musk states, “We live in a secular culture where man, not God, is the measure of all things.” This means in order to be truly submissive we must be counter-cultural. That is to say, we must put Christ first and foremost in every aspect of our lives and not compartmentalize our faith. This entails knowing the Scriptures and doing the very best to be as compliant as possible. Submission to God is more than being cognizant of the rules; it is abiding by them and doing so not out of obligation, but out of love. Thus, my ministry recognizes Christ’s headship over the church.
Submission also means not always having to be correct in everything. Being the leader does not mean I am the best at everything. I rely on many to get the mission accomplished; the mission is not about me, it is about God. Therefore, my ego must remain subdued—I am not above correction—and I expect others to correct me if I am wrong. If there are differences in opinions and can find no Scriptural basis to make a decision then the choice will reflect what is in best harmony with the mission of the ministry.
- It is not enough to complete the task; the mission must be accomplished in an excellent manner. Being excellent is more than just putting on a good show; it has to mean something. Excellence is more than making it relevant; it also has to be convicting. Being excellent means that the mission is being accomplished or at the least worked towards in a manner befitting of Christ. If I am not willing to stamp Christ’s name to what I do in ministry then I cannot call it excellent.
Performing excellently does not mean accomplishing tasks that are not essential to the mission. This means that in ministry that I will not take on tasks that I know I cannot accomplish in an excellent manner. This does not mean having the best of everything or competing with the church down the street. Rather, it means doing my very best for Christ’s bride. Sometimes doing the best is making sure I am not overtasked which will lead to a burnout in ministry. It means doing what is best for the ministry at all times. Since excellence is my value, others will expect this from me and they will know I expect it from them as well. Christ expects all of us to be and to perform excellent.
- Typically when most people think of the word service, they think of being taken care of rather than taking care of others. This is what I seek to challenge and change. Christians are to be servants first and foremost of God and secondly of people, particularly their brothers and sisters in Christ. When the church was formed in the book of Acts they came together in one accord and gave all they had to meet the needs of others; this is not happening today. This is not an endorsement of communism; the believers in Acts willingly gave what they had to help others for the common benefit of all. This necessitates putting myself second and everyone else first. It means putting my family before myself and before my ministry. I come last on the hierarchy not because of duty but because I love them. Serving means giving up time and treasure to others. This means my ministry will not act like a bank. Its job is not to act as a storehouse for the peoples treasure. Rather, it is the means in which people’s treasure is utilized for God’s purposes. The ministry is to act like a funnel, which collects excess resources and focuses and reallocates them where they can help others in need.
In the above I discussed two biblical figures that were reformers and made the right decisions for their people. Josiah and Nehemiah were godly men who sought to reform their nation. Once Josiah discovered the error of the people’s way he sought out to correct it by tearing down all the false religion in the nation. Nehemiah sought out support from a king to help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and he finished the task in fifty-two days. He knew what the mission was, enlisted the help of others, inspired a shared vision, and made that vision a reality.
When I compare myself to the above biblical leaders, I do see myself as a reformer of sorts. I see the apostasy happening in many other denominations and wish to curb this trend. Also when I think about this, I must remember not to become overzealous and demand changes for the sake of change. The weakness I have when it comes to reform is rather than rebuilding the wall as Nehemiah did; I have the tendency to want to tear it down first. With that being said, I must be cognizant of what is good and bad for ministry—just as Nehemiah surveyed the walls—I, too must survey the ministry; sometimes it takes a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer to correct things.
I mentioned in the above that the focus of my ministry is two-fold: (1) leading the lost to Christ, and (2) defending the faith. In order for this focus to be realized, Christian apologetics will be of major interest to the ministry. There are great evidences and reasons to believe in Christ and the world needs to hear about them. Many today are skeptical towards Christianity and by employing apologetics in order to lead to them to faith in Christ it will strengthen the chances of conversion and make them stronger in their faith at its onset. The weakness to this approach is that it often leads to a lack of experience. That is not to say experience trumps evidence or Scripture, but unfortunately apologetics does not have much of an experiential dimension. With this weakness in mind, I must realize the antecedent spiritual state of the congregation in order for the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sins. If I preach on reasons God exists all the time and teach on the same, it will not help the believer’s spiritual walk with Christ. Sure, it will keep them in the faith and give them defenses against opposition, but they must also grow in the knowledge and compassion of God.
In regard to my values, there are some weaknesses that come with the territory. For instance, unity can take a front seat while being doctrinally correct can often take the back seat in ministry. It is important to reach out to everyone, but in a way that is both unifying and non-compromising. This is something I must always keep in mind.
Submission is important, but it does not mean being a doormat to others, there is a difference in serving others and them running over the top of you. In the past I have been more like a doormat and it left me angry and sometimes bitter, I have learned to say no to some things and say yes to things that are truly important.
Finally my leadership philosophy can be summarized by the words of the Apostle Paul, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” For Christ’s glory, this is my mission.
. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 2 Ki 22:1.
. Ibid., 2 Ki 22:7.
. Ibid., 2 Ki 23:25.
. Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Determined, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 15–16.
. Ibid., Neh 2:5-6.
. James M. Kouzes and Posner, Barry Z. Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), 22.
. Ibid., Neh 2:8-10.
. Ibid., Ne 2:17.
. Fred Smith, Learning to Lead: Bringing Out the Best in People, vol. 5, The Leadership Library (Carol Stream, IL: CTi, 1986), 34.
. New American Standard Bible, Ac 17.
. New American Standard Bible, Rom 10:12.
. Ibid., Matt 25:35-40.
. Charles Tidwell, Church Administration: Effective Leadership for Ministry (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1985), 80.
. Fred Smith, 24.
. Ibid., 29.
 Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction, vol. 17, The Leadership Library (Carol Stream, IL; Dallas; Waco, TX: Christianity Today; Word Pub., 1989), 98.
. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, ed., Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004), 10-11.
. Terry C. Muck, Liberating the Leader’s Prayer Life, vol. 2, The Leadership Library (Carol Stream, IL; Waco, TX: Christianity Today, Inc.; Word Books, 1985), 25.
. New American Standard Bible. Php 1:15–16.