Weak Leaders

I have a little bit of leadership experience in my life. Not much, but some.

And I wrestle with it. I wrestle with what my role should look like, how I should speak, act, behave, and think.

I write about it quite a bit too. This post may sound similar to previous posts on my blog.

I think our churches need weak leaders.

I think our families need weak leaders.

I think our communities need weak leaders.

Let me clarify what I mean when I say that.

I think that right now in our present day and age, leaders are supposed to be strong, stoic, emotionless men and women who are put on pedestals.

I experienced that big time in college. I had the opportunity to lead ministries on and off campus, speak in chapels, lead mission teams, etc. And there was almost always a weight (often self-imposed) to be strong, to be perfect, to uphold the image of whatever ministry I found myself leading.

As a matter of fact, what drew me to my now wife Jamie was that she never accepted that version of me. From the beginning of our relationship she would tell me that she knew there was more to me than my public image. She gave me the freedom to step down off the pedestal I had been put on.

I still feel that weight at times. I still have felt the expectation to not crack under the pressure of leadership.

Yet, when I look at Scripture, I see only one strong Man. His Name is Jesus. Every other character was broken. Every other person in the story had flaws and failures. Every other person was weak.

I just recently started looking closely at the book of Genesis. It’s a beautiful book. It’s not its own set apart story. It is the beginning of a much larger story that spans all of Scripture: the story of God’s redemptive work on behalf of and through His chosen, covenant people.

We quickly see just how insignificant we are. How weak we are. It’s counter-cultural. It’s certainly not going to be featured in any self-image, self-help blogs. But it’s the reality of our lives.

then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. – Genesis 2:7 

I am of dust.

Meaning, I am insignificant.

It also means that I am reliant upon God in everything.

Acts 17 echoes this.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. – Acts 17:24-25

One of my favorite prayers is “Thank You Lord for this day, thank You for giving me life and breath and everything else.”

It keeps going in Scripture though.

Look at 1 Corinthians 15.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. – 1 Corinthians 15:53

One day our dusty, broken bodies will be replaced with spiritual, heavenly bodies that will not fade.

Until then, I believe that we need weak leaders. Not in the terms of timidity, cowardice, and the like, but rather in terms of confession, emotion, prayer, and admitting weakness.

1. Confess Sin

One of the worst misunderstandings in Christian culture is that pastors are supposed to be perfect. Yes, they are clearly held to a higher standard in the Scriptures, but there is only one holy man, and again, His Name is Jesus.

In my pedestal days at OBU, there was so much sin in my heart that I felt like I couldn’t take to anyone about (again, until Jamie). Which was again likely self-imposed. I bought the press of being different and unique in regards to sin.

I look around and literally bi-weekly, some famous pastor in our country falls into moral failure of some degree.

I combat that path by consistently and constantly bringing my sin into the light. I meet with a counselor/mentor a couple times a month, and I do my best to drag sin into the light.

When wise and applicable, I speak about sin struggles from the pulpit.

When wise and applicable, I speak about sin struggles to my students as well.

My hope and prayer is that no one in the church I attend ever sees me as perfect.

2. Admit Weakness

Until pretty recently, I thought I had to have all the answers and had to excel at every area of my job. Thankfully God has taught me that a true leader admits weakness. And honestly, it’s freeing. It’s freeing to acknowledge that I have a great team of volunteers around me that are way better at certain things than I am.

But think about how counter-cultural that is.

Our culture flocks to leaders that exude confidence and bravado, who act the part.

Saying “I’m weak in this area” is one way for me to acknowledge my dustiness.

3. Pray. Pray. Pray. 

Lord help me for all the times I’ve acted like I don’t need You.

Prayer is the clearest proof of acknowledging weakness. It’s the clearest way to say “God, I need you for life, breath, and everything else.” This season of my life without a pastor has given me a new appreciation for how much I need Jesus. Every hour I need Him.

If you aren’t prayerful, you likely have bought the lie that you’re strong.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Share Your Emotions

One part of American leadership that I’ve always wrestled with is the idea of stoicism. This is even more imposed on masculine leadership.

I acknowledge fully that I’m wired differently. I am an emotive person. But when I look at Scripture, I see more than enough room for emotions being displayed, even by those in positions of leadership.

Yes, wisdom and maturity are important. But acknowledging sadness, discouragement, fear, and the like is a practice that I have started to do with the team around me (I literally talked last night at youth about how I wrestle sometimes with my identity in Christ, how I get discouraged). And so far, none of them have told me that they no longer want to follow me. Maybe, just maybe, it’s refreshing to people.

I am imperfect at being weak.

But I do think that our churches, homes, and communities need more weak leaders.

If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing it! You can follow my blog down below or via the menu on the right side of the page! Also, I appreciate any and all feedback, so comment below as well! 

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

Currahee

The summer after my freshmen year of college, my dad and I watched the Band of Brothers HBO mini-series. It was a sort of coming of age moment for me, and to watch it alongside my dad was a great experience. This blog is not the space to address thoughts on entertainment, war, etc. I will say however that if you choose to watch this, skip the start of Episode 9.

Anyways, the first episode is entitled “Currahee” and it documents the training of Easy Company, which the mini-series will follow throughout the entirety of WW2. In this episode we see two leaders. One is a horrible example and the other is worthy of emulation. The entire series is big on leadership, but this opening episode teaches us a lot on what makes a good leader.

You see, our churches are full of broken and imperfect leaders. Broken and imperfect men and women. Broken and flawed leaders who hurt people in their congregation. There is obviously a wide range of leadership deficiencies resulting in a wide range of damage done.

Just today a humongous network of priests in Pennsylvania I believe got busted in a sexual sin cover-up that had over 1000 victims involved. That is an extreme example of the way that those in spiritual leadership have abused their power and shown their flaws.

Again, that is an extreme example. But misogyny, deception, abrasiveness, anger, pride, and the like could describe way too many ministers and leaders in our churches. I’ve sadly heard many stories from those I love who have been burned by the church, particularly those who are in positions of authority in the church.

Even people raised in churches have been let down, bruised, and abused by those who claimed to be Christ’s shepherds. – Jonathan Leeman 

To be in leadership in a church is to be serving a flock under the Lordship of Christ. Yet many men and women, including yours truly at times, make it about their own kingdoms of sand. That is why I deeply desire men and women to be praying for me daily. I know that left to my own selfish and sinful devices, I will harm those in my congregation and make ministry about my name instead of His.

Anyway, all that to say, let’s look at Band of Brothers and Scripture to teach us about what anyone in ministry should look like (whether that is vocational ministry, volunteer ministry, teaching a Sunday school class or organizing a meal for those in your church who can’t get out).

Herbert Sobel

Captain Sobel is best described as a turd. He is power-hungry, leads with fear, antagonizes his troops, deceives them, manipulates them, and altogether makes them hate him. Now while there is a component of his leadership style that actually lended itself to good results (they all banded together in their mutual hatred of him), he ultimately was removed from his position of leadership over Easy Company. In part because he was ill-equipped to lead in combat drills and in part because he did not have the respect of his men.

I find it intriguing that Scripture has its fair share of Sobels. Scripture has plenty of examples of poor leadership. Now I would for sure caution us against approaching Scripture as primarily a leadership manual or handbook, treating it as if producing godly leaders is its purpose. That being said, there are sections of Scripture that can teach us quite a great deal on the subject.

For instance look with me at 3 John.

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. – 3 John 9-10

Diotrephes. Dio-stinking-trephes. John was writing to a house church, encouraging them in their hospitality towards those who were carrying the good news of Jesus. Yet we have this man in a role of leadership, who loves to be first, loves the praise. He not only loves being the center of attention, he also kicks out of the church any who are choosing to be hospitable because it goes against his opinion on the matter. What a turd.

Major Winters 

Here we see a man of courage, humility, quiet strength, meekness, and integrity. Throughout the entire mini-series, he leads with dedication first and foremost to his men. He braves the scene of battle with them, and is incredibly frustrated when he is not able to be with them. He is full of integrity, and although he has the right to be abrasive and lead with as much meanness as Sobel, he decides to lead instead with meekness and quiet strength.

Again, the Bible is not about leadership primarily.

Nor is Paul a perfect leader.

However, in the small book of Philemon he exhibits an aspect of leadership that I pray I and every pastor I know would model.

Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you – since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus – Philemon 8-9

Paul was an apostle. This made him a big deal in the early church. Again I don’t think he was perfect, and Scripture makes it pretty clear to me that he was far from it. But this apostleship gave him incredible authority. Authority that meant what he spoke to a church should be followed because he had seen the risen Christ. But here in this letter, he chooses to appeal to them out of his love, not his authority.

Man, that’s a good example of leadership.

Loving those under your leadership, not simply commanding them. I am grateful to be in a season where I am under such loving leadership. It gives those who are under this type of leader the opportunity to thrive outside of fear.

My prayer is that every follower of Jesus would be more like Christ. Yes, Dick Winters was an amazing man. But even he is simply a shadow of Christ.

My prayer is that every follower of Jesus would lead in whatever area they find themselves in with humility and love.

I always appreciate feedback and discussion. You can follow my blog below.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Boys Will Be Boys

When I arrived at OBU, I was a fairly terrible man when it came to my interactions with women. I fell headlong into jokes that were saturated in a sexist view of life and the roles of men and women. My interactions with girls were full of flirtatiousness and selfishness as I saw the affection of a young woman as a way to feel better about myself. I approached almost every relationship or friendship with girls with this jaded and honestly vile mindset, whether intentionally and consciously or not.

Thankfully, by God’s grace, God drew me out of this sinful view of women. The abhorrent ‘stay in the kitchen’ jokes and the like dissipated and my interactions with women slowly became one of mutual respect. That being said, I am way too honest with myself to pretend like I still don’t have room to grow.

What has saddened me deeply is the way that the church has seemingly added to (at times) the epidemic of disrespecting and dehumanizing women. The statements made by Paige Patterson (albeit many years ago) regarding the physicality of a teenager and the responsibility of a woman being abused made me sick. The kicker though is when in his sermon he states that two teenage boys speaking lustfully about that teenage woman were simply being Biblical. This is abhorrent and needs action. It would be one thing if Patterson repented and apologized. However, there has been no such statement from him. Rather he has claimed he did nothing wrong.

Let me be clear, this post is not anti-Paige Patterson per se. Rather, I am wanting to correct a tendency in our churches to unintentionally (trying to give the benefit of the doubt) allow the ‘boys will be boys’ mantra (which is unBiblical) to seep into what we teach men and women.

I have been in way too many men’s Bible study settings where ‘ball and chain’ type of jokes are rampant. I have been in way too many settings where apathy, cynicism, sarcasm, and vulgarity are allowed to run rampant in the midst of men in our church communities, a practice that is disdainful. We teach men that they can be lone wolves with Christ devoid of accountability and repentance. They can be vulgar, obscene, complacent. They can be workaholics obsessed with their favorite sports teams, as long as they pray before meals and before bed. Now this is at times hyperbole, but it does unsettle my spirit to realize just how much of this behavior has crept into the church.

When I was met by young women in my college community who began to speak out in search of fair treatment of women in the church, unfortunately my immediate response was to view them as liberal psychos who probably didn’t shower or shave their armpits (again, hyperbole). Yet I slowly began to wrestle with the fact that we have silenced the voices of many who have had so many good and necessary things to say to the church. We give women a women’s ministry full of scrapbooking and surface-level theology, instead of equipping them to be deep-rooted disciples of Christ.

The worst part of this whole thing to me is the fact that men have departed from the church in droves. Rather than leading in the church, they have stopped showing up. Or when they do they are complacent fence-sitters at best. Yet in this immense absence of male leadership, we failed to equip women. We were content with clinging to the dregs of Christian masculine presence rather than equipping the hundreds of thousands of women in our midst who loved God.

Now I personally believe that men are the head of the household. I believe also that men are to be the pastors in our churches. However, I believe that women are able and willing to speak, teach, and lead in our churches and it’s about time that we equipped them to do just that.

I have found myself impacted by women when it comes to my faith in great ways. Auburn Powell, another former fellow OBU Bison, has encouraged me in my appreciation for God’s Word and the study of it. Jen Wilkin has blown me away with much of her writing, namely None Like Him. I’ve even found myself encouraged in my faith by Tish Harrison Warren and her book Liturgy of the Ordinary (she’s an Anglican priest, proof that you can learn from people who you don’t agree with on all accounts). All around us, women are full of love for God and His Word. We should be equipping them. Throughout recent generations a plethora of gifted and godly women have gone out to international mission work in some ways because they haven’t found places here in the United States to use their gifting.

It is time that we take sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual jokes, and sexism seriously in the church in America. It is time that we repent of our sins and seek reconciliation with our Christian sisters.

Sisters in Christ, I apologize for the way that I have viewed you in the past. I apologize for taking so long to start listening. While we may not see eye-to-eye on every issue, that is no excuse for me to not have a listening ear. I apologize that you haven’t been treated as an equal in our churches. Although I believe we have different roles, I believe that they are designed to complement each other. Walk with us brothers towards mutual leadership as we all seek to pursue Christ and the glory of God together.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Scary Close To Leaving The Church

Donald Miller exploded onto the landscape of my life when I was in late high school. His book Blue Like Jazz came with a considerable amount of buzz and hype. Each book since then has generated even more excitement in the lives of peers. While I love his heart for storytelling and his fight against a mundane approach to life, I think that his view on one certain aspect of the Christian walk is eye-opening (yet wrong in my opinion).

Donald Miller wrote (albeit it several years ago, but there hasn’t been a retraction) that he did not find regular church attendance necessary, going so far as to allude to the church as a university that he had graduated from. He wrote that he looked upon the traditional church with fondness, but that he no longer needed it. His avenue to the Lord was personal and intimate and he was able to find community outside of the local church.

While few people have the reach in our current day and age as Donald Miller, I have heard this line of thinking hundreds of times from peers and other voices in the Christian community (i.e. – John Eldredge and the wild, rough around the edges view of manhood and faith).

I originally set out to write this blog as a critique against Miller. Instead I have felt God moving in my heart recently to consider why so many people are leaving the local church behind (while still respectfully disagreeing with those who choose to do just that).

To the Donald Millers of the world I believe that an apology is needed. Those who have left the church behind have been wounded by the church, or they have seen it as empty religiosity and unnecessary for their personal walk with the Lord. To me, looking at the Pastoral Epistles is the route necessary to see where we have gone wrong.

In his commentary, Thomas D. Lea has described the Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy, Titus) as “helpful, insightful, and pulsing with spiritual warmth.” The book of Acts no doubt walks narratively through the practices of the early church, but these letters to Timothy and Titus shed light on what the church and church leaders should be like.

1. The church should be a family of faith full of mutual respect and love.I 

I could rant about the need for intergenerational discipleship all day. But for the sake of time, let me just point us to 1 Timothy 5:1-2. When it comes to our interactions, conversations, and relationships, how are we doing as far as respect and purity is concerned? The church should be a family. Not a program. Not a machine. Not a business. It should be a family where everyone is treated with respect, regardless of age or honestly regardless of behavior. Someone in our churches deserves respect and pure love not because of their actions but because they are purchased by the blood of Christ just like us.

2. Church leaders should be full of humility due to grace. 

That leads to this understanding. We see this in 1 Timothy 1:16, as Paul even late in his ministry continued to recognize his own personal need for grace, how grace was not something that he left behind. Our elders and deacons and Sunday school leaders and volunteers are most effective and most God-honoring when they understand that they are desperately reliant upon the grace of God each and every day of their lives. I am afraid many leave the church due to pastors and overseers who walk not in gratefulness for grace but rather as professionals, know-it-alls, dictators, or manipulators.

3. The church should prepare its people for the reality of life as a Christian.

2 Timothy 2:3 reminds us that the Christian walk is a battle. It is not easy to follow Christ. When our churches do not allow church to be a place where people can open up about the difficulties that they have been experiencing for living for Jesus, our when our churches preach a false gospel that is the American Dream dressed in a choir robe, people who are experiencing the realities of suffering feel out of place in the masquerade of the church. Let us be communities of faith where suffering is a reality we prepare for and walk through together.

4. Church leaders are to preach the Word with patience and instruction. 

Believe it or not, many in my generation abandon the church for a similar reason as number three. They go to church and see pie-in-the-sky optimism combined with gimmicks, facades, programs and the like. What they don’t see unfortunately in many local churches is the preaching of the Word. Solid, Biblical, sound teaching of God’s Word. 2 Timothy 4:2 encourages the pastor to do just that. Many are leaving the church because they are getting carnival games and parlor tricks instead of the theological preaching that is necessary for the health of their souls.

So to Donald Miller and company, I apologize that our churches in the United States have failed in some ways to look like the church painted for us in the Pastoral Epistles. If you’re scary close to leaving the organized local church yourself, I urge you to not. With a right understanding of what it means to be part of a local church, you can find yourself being built up in your faith. I promise. No church is perfect because it is full of imperfect people. But it’s full of imperfect people that Christ died for.

We profoundly need each other. We are immersed in the Christian life together. There is no merely private faith – everything we are and do as individuals affects the church community. – Tish Harrison Warren

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

Warped And Sinful Words

When it comes to sin in the minds of modern Christians, sins of aggression (hate, malice, murder) and sex (lust, adultery, sexual assault) are the ones that we tend to see with the biggest amount of physical and earthly consequences, especially in the church.

We all have heard and read the stories of pastors who have fallen into egregious sexual sin and have been removed from their flock as a result. We have heard stories of men in pastoral roles who led with hatred and malice in their hearts, becoming dictators who trampled on their staff and congregations.

I am not inclined to disagree with this sentiment.

That being said, I want to put another sin in the ring.

There are few sins that are as detrimental to the life of a church than the sin of divisiveness.

There are few sins that are as prevalent in the life of our churches than divisiveness.

Gossip, slander, drama. They are too often saturating the life of the local church. Phone calls, texts, private conversations. All full of disagreements that instead of being addressed in a healthy way are spread through the grapevine. All of these conversations destroy the health of a church.

Look with me at a couple verses out of Titus 3.

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. – Titus 3:10-11

Earlier this week I came across this passage in my devotional time with the Lord and it has stuck with me since. That is heavy stuff, a heavy indictment against this specific sin. These verses come on the heels of a passage in Titus 3 that is all about how as followers of Christ we have been saved by God to do good works and to live lives that are worthy of God.

In verse 8 we read, I want you to stress these things (the gospel message), so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. 

As those who have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, we are saved to do good. What’s the antithesis of that in this passage? Foolish controversies and quarrels (v. 9), and divisiveness.

The book of Titus is such a good book to study as it speaks into the life of a church, and how it is supposed to function. Titus chapter one is mainly about the qualifications of a pastor or elder. Titus chapter two has a lot to say about intergenerational discipleship. Then it concludes with this chapter about good deeds and the dangers of divisiveness. My prayer is that we as followers of Christ would take the format of this book to heart. There is much more to it than this, but here’s a simplistic takeaway:

Titus 1 – If you have appointed or hired pastors or elders in your church. Trust them. Pray for them. Support them. They have not been placed in your church to be used, abused, or be treated like puppets. God has placed them in your midst to shepherd the church.

Titus 2 – Disciple, disciple, disciple. Some churches do this well, others not so much. But the call is clear. The older men are to disciple the younger men in the church, while being willing to learn from the younger men. The older women are to disciple the younger women in the church, while also being willing to learn from the younger women.

Titus 3 – Don’t be divisive. You have been saved for good works. You have been saved to evangelize, disciple, and support the leadership of your local church. This does not mean you have to agree with everything that your pastoral staff does. This does mean that you should talk to them about it rather than engage in gossip or slander.

It pains me to acknowledge that this sin of divisiveness has been present in my life to an extreme degree in my past. Instead of seeking counsel, speaking to my pastoral leaders, or supporting them in their actions, I instead gossiped, slandered, and honestly caused division.

Please do not make the same mistake. Look with me again at how Paul responds to this type of behavior in followers of Christ. We are to warn those who are being divisive. We are to call them out privately for living in a way that is not in line with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Scripture then goes on to use some severe terminology about them. They are warped, sinful, and self-condemned.

That’s harsh but true. It was in my life. I was warped in my beliefs. Church was about me. Pastors were a commodity for me to use, not a shepherd to trust. I was sinful. The fact of the matter is that Christians are called to be unified in the church. Shame on us when we’re not. Lastly, divisive people and gossips are ultimately just condemning themselves each time they talk. Scripture makes clear that every word we speak we will have to give an account for (Matthew 12:36).

I pray that I would avoid the sin of divisiveness.

I pray that you would too.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Leading Like Jesus

Leadership is a popular topic. There are tons of books, conferences, seminars, podcasts, and blogs on the topic (This is ironic since I’m about to add to all the noise). We hear of methods, practices, models, examples, and game-plans worth modeling. I know, I have several such books on my shelves at home. This subject has been on my mind lately in a big way, due to me taking on my first leadership position in ministry. I was still striving to figure out my views on the idea of leading in a Christian vocation when I came across 1 Thessalonians 2:3-12. chess

Now I preface the following blog post with two things:

  1. I am young and not that experienced, with lots of room for growth
  2. There is way more to this passage than it being a treatise on pastoral leadership, that’s just my topic for this blog. Read it not as a sermon but as a topical summary.

Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica, a church that he helped birth. They were a church of incredible faith, ever-present hope, and brotherly love. In the middle of his letter to them, Paul gives a summary of how he led them in the birth of the church, and why he led them that way.

First we see in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 some qualities that we shouldn’t have as a leader.

For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you known, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6

Paul speaks as to how he didn’t lead or act when they came to Thessalonica to present the gospel. But in his speech we see a condemnation on the type of behavior he’s adamantly asserting he didn’t walk in.

  1. A leader is not to be deceptive (v. 3). Paul didn’t manipulate or have a hidden agenda. He presented the gospel in purity and simplicity. We will see later in this passage why he was so straight-forward.
  2. A leader is not to be a people-pleaser (v. 4). It’s easy to sit on the fence when it comes to big decisions, schmoozing both sides, making sure that you’re well-liked by all who are under your leadership. But a leader is not to behave in such a way, flattering for the sake of approval.
  3. A leader is not to be greedy (v. 5). There’s a lot more to greed than just financial gain. A leader should not be in the business of striving for more power, prestige, control, or praise.
  4. A leader is not to be authoritarian (v. 6). Paul and Timothy could have made elaborate demands as apostles, but they didn’t for they were not in the business of seeking personal glory. It’s easy to become dictatorship and accountability-less in leadership, especially when you’re put on a pedestal. But a leader is not to be authoritarian.

In all of this, I want us to see Jesus Christ as the better leader. He is ultimately the example, and Paul strove to emulate Christ in everything he did. So when we talk about what makes a good leader, may we look to Jesus.

Jesus was not deceptive, He had no ulterior motives in the things He did. He came boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God, the good news. Jesus was not a people-pleaser. It seems to me that any time the masses were comfortable with Him, He re-defined what it meant to follow God to the point where people were not pleased. Jesus was not greedy, He was not a glory-hog. He was constantly giving the glory to God the Father. Jesus stepped off the throne of glory, and humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross.

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. – 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12

The unfortunate truth is that far too often knowledge and experience begin to cloud our compassion and love. This is too often the case in the church. Pastors lose their shepherding nature in exchange for a mind saturated with doctrine and theology. Paul shows us in this passage that we don’t need to separate the two. You can have love and compassion while also adamantly teaching right doctrine.

This list of exemplary leadership qualities that follows may make you feel like I’m writing to just pastors. While pastors and those in church leadership should definitely seek to grow these qualities, all Christians are called to emulate Christ in all we do. So regardless of what your vocation is, strive to lead like Christ.

  1. A leader should be sensitive to the needs of his followers (v. 7). Paul had a mother-like deep care for those whom he led. We too should strive to be sensitive to the needs of those we lead.
  2. A leader should value those under his care (v. 8). Paul had great brotherly affection for those who led in the church at Thessalonica. Far from treating his subordinates as just that, Paul came to love and have affection for all whom he led.
  3. A leader should be transparent and real (v. 8-10). Because of the pedestal of leadership, we can hold people at arm’s length. However, a good leader is a transparent one. We should be pointing others to Jesus, not ourselves.
  4. A leader should be encouraging (v. 11-12). Paul exhorted, encouraged, and supported those he led. Sometimes this came through hard words of hard truth, but it was always in the hopes of drawing people closer to God.

We see this in Jesus. Jesus was sensitive to the needs of His followers. He valued and treasured those who chose to follow Him. Jesus was transparent and real, allowing the disciples into his life in more than just once a week Bible meetings. They lived, ate, and had fun with Jesus. Jesus was encouraging. This came through some extremely hard teachings and harsh words. Yet all that Jesus did was to bring His followers closer to God and God’s glory.

Jesus was the better leader.

He’s worthy of following and emulating.

Lead like Jesus.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

  • I appreciate any and all feedback, and you can follow my blog via the menu. Also, special thanks to Charles Swindoll’s work on this passage.