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…
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.