Seven Characteristics of Effective Christian Leadership

What makes an effective Christian leader?  There have been hundreds, maybe thousands of books written on this subject.  I’ve listened to countless sermons and lectures about what it takes to be a good leader.  But I have found no better source for understanding Christian leadership than the Bible.  In the Old Testament, one of my favorite leaders is King David.  Over the past couple of months I have been preaching through 1 Chronicles and have been inspired by the tremendous example of leadership found in King David.  This Sunday night I will be concluding the series by preaching from 1 Chronicles.  As I studied the passage I noticed that there are seven characteristics that David displays here that are vital for every Christian leader.

Effective Christian Leaders…

  1. Understand who is really in control (v.1)- Notice in this verse that David refers to the Temple as a “palace” for the Lord God.  The NIV translates this word as a “palatial structure.”  This is a word used to describe the dwelling place of a King.  By using this specific word, David was reminding the people that there true King was the Lord.  This is the very first issue that every Christian leader must settle in their own hearts.  You minister under the Lordship of Christ!
  2. Make personal sacrifices (v.2-5)– In these verses the Bible says that out of his own treasure David gave 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver.  According to the Wycliffe Bible Commentary the gold would have been worth $1.1 billion and the silver $16 million.  This is an enormous sum of money.  Every Christian leader is called to make sacrifices to be involved in the ministry.  Obviously, Jesus is the greatest example of sacrifice but the Bible is filled with dozens of examples of men and women who set aside their personal comfort and desires to serve God.  Sacrifice is not just a possibility in ministry, it is a prerequisite.
  3. Lead by example (v.6-9)- Notice that before David asked others to contribute he set the example for them.  Whenever I think of leading by example I think of the Apostle Paul who in 1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  As Christian leaders we need to provide an example for people to follow.  We need to follow the example of  those who have set a positive example of Christian humility and a commitment to the gospel.  As   leaders we must live a life that is surrendered to Christ and set an example of devotion for other people to follow.
  4. Give all of the glory to God (v.10-17)- David was careful in this passage to give all of the credit to God.  In v.14 he says, “For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”  Effective Christian leaders realize that everything they have and everything they are belongs to God.  But the wonderful news is that we find our greatest purposes and our greatest joy in glorifying God.  So give God all of the credit.
  5. Pray for others (v.18-19)– Christian leaders know the importance of prayer and recognize that one of the greatest investments they can make in the lives of others is to pray for them.  Many years ago I heard a quote by that said, “We move people to God through prayer.”  Christian leaders motivate and move people more through prayer than they do through persuasion.
  6. Worship the Lord (v.20-21) David lead the people to bless God.  This should be the goal of every Christian leader!  Many years ago I was introduced to John Piper’s book entitled “Let the Nations Be Glad.”  In that book he shows that the primary motivation for Christian service is always worship.  This is the thing that God most desire throughout the Bible.  As Christian leaders we need to understand that worship is more than just singing a few songs on Sunday morning and going home.  Worship is a lifestyle of constantly honoring God in everything we do.  As Christian leaders we all have the responsibility of leading people to worship.
  7. Pass the Torch (v.22-30)- David did not try to grasp the reins of leadership but instead passed the torch to the next generation.  As Christian leaders one of our greatest tasks is to prepare the next generation to take our place and then to hand over leadership.  David hands the reins of leadership.  In v.24 the Bible says, “All the leaders and the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon.”  I think that the people’s willingness to follow David is connected, at least in part, to David’s willingness to hand over power and be supportive of his son.  This is one of the hardest things to do in leadership but it is also one of the most important.  As Christian leaders we need to mentor and train the next generation, then we need to hand over the reins, then become their biggest cheerleaders.

Habakkuk: Why every believer should question God?

Is it right to question God?  For most of my life I have heard well-meaning, good-hearted Christians answer this question with an emphatic No!  But in actual experience we all know that there are moments in lives when circumstances cause us to question what God is doing.  Habakkuk is a biblical example of the benefit that questioning God has for our spiritual life.  Rather than settling for trite, simplistic theological answers, Habakkuk dares to ask God some hard questions and in the process develops a far more glorious vision of what God is like.  I would like to suggest that hard questions can serve the same function in the life of every believer.

Habakkuk wrote during a time when the nation of Judah was experiencing a time of great economic prosperity but was spiritually bankrupt.  As he looked at the injustice and wickedness rampant in the nation, his heart became incensed at God’s apparent lack of interest.  Habakkuk decides to take the issue to God and to find out some answers, so in 1:1-2 he asks, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?  Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?”  This is an honest question and one that every generation of believers is forced to ask as we look at the violence, unrighteousness, and injustice that goes on all around us.

God’s answer in 1:5—11 came as a complete surprise to Habakkuk.  Essentially, God announced that he was raising up the Babylonians to serve as his instrument of punishment against Judah.  This was not at all good news to Habakkuk and causes him to ask another question in 1:12—13.  In these verses, Habakkuk raises the question of God’s justice, “How can you use the unrighteous to judge the righteous?”  He then goes on throughout the remainder of chapter 2 describing the violence of the Babylonians.  What we have here is the classic case of asking a question and then being disturbed by the answer.  Habakkuk wants God to deal with the sins of Judah but never imagined that it would involve being conquered by the Babylonians.  So in 2:1 the prophets says, “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”

In chapter 2 we have one of the most important statements made in all the Bible, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (2:4)  This verse would be used later by the Apostle Paul to describe the essence of our response to the gospel.  In Habakkuk’s day God was reminding the prophet and the people to keep on trusting that He was in control, even when some would question whether He was.

This brings me to the point that I want to make.  Some of the people in Judah questioned God out of unbelief while others were driven by their faith to question God.  That might seem like a play on words but in reality it is a difference of eternal significance.  Those who question God out of unbelief only deepen their situation and harden their hearts even further.  But when genuine believers question God out of a deep, abiding faith, they experience spiritual growth.  The difference is in the starting point.

Habakkuk never questions whether God exists or whether He is good.  Habakkuk starts off with a firm belief in God and a basic understanding of His nature.  But in his humanity, Habakkuk recognized that he struggled with understanding the ways of God.  He needs to grow, so he humbly asks God for a deeper revelation of His nature.  In other words, Habakkuk began his questions from a point of faith and as a result received a further revelation of God’s nature.

As believers, we can grow in our understanding of God by faithfully taking our questions to Him in prayer and submitting ourselves to the authority of God’s Word.  As we read, study and meditate upon the Word of God, He will provide us with a deeper understanding of His nature, character and ways.So if you are a believer, I want to encourage you to question God.  Some of our questions He will answer, some He will not, but either way we will grow.  But the starting point always must be faith.