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Character Traits for Pastor/Elder - Decisive

Ready - Aim - Aim - Aim - Aim and Aim yet again! Never Fire. This scenario is unfortunately the MO of many Pastor/Elders. Then, they express utter frustration because nothing changes. Ministry goes in circles, no where, or is gripped by precipitous unrelenting decline.

In academic studies on Leadership it is common to have a session on Leadership Style. The styles range from Laissez Faire on one end of the continuum to Autocratic on the other. I am often asked, 'What is the proper Leadership Style?' Answer = all of them.

Let me explain. Much like parenting, a Pastor/Elder is always faced with a dynamic ever-changing scenario. At times it is most beneficial to the child to step back and let them learn from the choices they make. At other times it is absolutely mandatory that a parent be swift and firm in exercising a purely Autocratic mandate. Knowing the difference is what makes one an effective parent - - and an effective leader.

God's word provides a clear and unambiguous profile for us to honor. This passage among others sets clear boundaries that guide and define the role of the Pastor/Elder.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-3, ESV).

Leadership Styles - If I had to categorize and compare the leadership styles I encounter as referenced above, those that are Laissez Faire outnumber the Autocratic 9-1. This means that there is little or no effective change in 'status quo' (cf. the graph depicting church decline in the 04/01 News Letter). Nearly everyone (including myself) dislikes change to some degree. But, change is constant in the world around us and in the church. Failure to acknowledge that renders ministry impotent and ineffective. Some churches are functioning with a Philosophy of Ministry that was crafted 30-40 years ago and has not changed one iota! I began pastoring in the "If We Build It They Will Come" era. That is LONG GONE!!

Why is this important? Change is accomplished by Leadership. It is a 'Top Down' endeavor. Only decisive leadership will overcome the unrelenting vendetta by the core of people that make up a church who resist change. This is true even though it has been demonstrated that - as Einstein reportedly said - 'doing what we have always done and expecting different results is insanity'!

20% readily accept change. 20% resist change no matter what. 60% simply seek to discern 'which way the wind is blowing'! Billy Martin was once asked if it was difficult to manage the NY Yankees (under George Steinbrenner). His answer is both humorous and classic. He said, No! There are 25 players. 5 that love you and 5 that hate you. Effective managing is keeping the 5 that hate you away from the 15 that aren't sure. There is a modicum of wisdom in this parable. 20% that accept change added to the 60% that are seeking godly effective leadership constitutes a clear majority. Biblical Leadership is not a popularity contest nor executed by polls. But, any leader that has 80% of those he is leading in support of the ministry initiatives he is proposing is in a position to accomplish God's purpose for the church - Make Disciples. Leadership is not a power struggle or a numbers game but the fact remains that to be a Leader you must have followers.

Regenerate people respect and respond to godly leadership. Refer to Titus 2:15 and Hebrews 13:17 listed below for textual/exegetical support for this principle.

Decisive Leadership -
Speaking of being decisive, leadership in every area and level requires solid decision-making: Fathers and mothers as leaders in the home make important decisions daily for the family they are charged to lead; also employers, as leaders in the workplace make many decisions impacting the lives of those under their leadership.

The Lord calls us to courageous, decisive leadership; otherwise, weak leadership that tends to not make the decision God is asking for is the result. When leaders are weak and indecisive, authority is squandered and progress is impossible.

Authority acts like a vacuum; when left unoccupied the place of authority is filled by the next strongest influence—usually a person; and that person will take over your God-given authority—the same authority the Lord gave to you to steward.

This kind of take-over is precisely that, a take-over. One Bible example is the weak King Ahab whose weakness allowed Queen Jezebel to rule in his place. And did she ever rule! We see the same influence today when a decisive leader is absent. . . .Make the decision, call the shot, and lead before the unauthorized one does. (from A Clear

Church Culture - Every church has a 'Culture'. That Culture is the composite of our purpose, who we are, what we do and how we do it. In the church that 'culture' is supposed to be shaped and executed based upon sound doctrine drawn from the text of Scripture by accurate precise exegesis. That is tragically rare in the church today. Culture usually is not expressed in a formal document or statement but it is profoundly real and dominate. The church has been morphed by the culture around her (read the six (6) volumes by David Wells) and the raging decline is exhibit 'A'! Peter Drucker said, 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast!' and he is absolutely correct. This makes a strong case for leadership that is decisive while avoiding the sin of 'over-lording' that Peter warned us about.

Reflect on the following quote from Leaders On Leadership, Chapter 13, p. 264 written by Hans Finzel:
Principle: Only leadership can change culture. Many people in an organization may want to "change the way we do things around here," but only the ones in control of the organization have the power to do so. If you are not at the top, you must convince those who are of your program (effective leadership, not programs changes culture; tcf) for change. The environment of every human institution, be it a church, business or family is set by the leadership, and only those at the top can bring about significant change.

NT Examples - There are several examples of decisive leadership in the New Testament.
#1 - Acts 15 The Jerusalem Council. This assembly and their deliberations is a significant event in the NT. After listening to Paul & Barnabas we read - James speaking says, 'Brothers, listen to me', (Acts 15:13). He summarizes the deliberations in vv. 19-21 and the issue is framed and adopted by his summary/leadership.

#2 - Acts 20 - Paul addresses the Ephesian Elders. He informs them that he is going to Jerusalem and they will not see his face again. Decisive leadership is often very emotion charged, filled with resistance and painful. They held a prayer meeting and Paul departs.

#3 - Titus 2:15 - Paul commands Titus to let no one 'think around him' (Titus 2:15 - perifroneito). To obey this command requires a Pastor/Leader to be wise, gracious and decisive. Effective leaders do not permit open persistent displays of resistance to proper exegetically substantiated leadership. There are three (3) options when a leader encounters this behavior. The person or persons refusing to follow their leaders must 1) repent, 2) be neutralized, or 3) depart. Effective decisive leadership does not permit ongoing rebellion and the destruction of unity in the assembly (Eph. 4:3).

#4 - Heb.13:17 - The Pastor/Elder is to execute leadership in such a gracious and effective manner that those he leads submit to his leadership. In fact, when he has properly exegeted the text and applies that message to ministry and those he leads, their submission is not to a title or a position primarily, but to the TRUTH of Special Revelation. When we align ourselves with God's word we know His blessing. Every initiative of the Pastor/Elder should be supported by the text. When he presents the exegetical support for ministry initiatives the people are to embrace both that message and his leadership. When done with grace, dignity and persistence, his decisiveness is rewarded with God's blessing.

Summary - Most Pastor/Elders did not cause the dysfunction and ineffectiveness in the places where they serve. They inherited a highly dysfunctional organism. Having said that, they are responsible to bring correction to that dysfunction. That requires a compassionate and decisive Leader.
Are you a decisive leader? You can be. Leadership incompetence is well documented as one of the leading causes of the decline of the church in the USA. Let me be quick to add - Leadership Development and Organizational Change were utterly and absolutely absent from Seminary curriculum until the past 5-10 years (that includes my own educational pilgrimage).

So, if you were not trained in these skills don't be surprised that you cannot exercise them. What you can and must do is humble yourself, embrace the opportunity to acquire the training and skills you lack and become a DECISIVE leader. IgniteUS was established to address this very issue. We come alongside of Pastors to inform, encourage and equip them in Leadership. My prayer is that you will take steps to engage. Your life and ministry will be immensely more effective and satisfying when you do. 803 413 3509.

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