What type of leader are you?

Though I greatly appreciate the many specialized ministries that exist around the world, I am a strong believer in the local church. Over the years, as we have conducted research, interviewed church leaders, engaged in training, and interacted with church members, I have realized that there are several types of church leaders.

Some leaders are ‘sold out’, totally committed to God’s purposes for their lives and God’s people. They are servants who love Jesus and love people. They see their life calling and purpose not only as a great privilege, but also as a stewardship! They seek God, work hard, love much, sacrifice often, speak truth, depend upon God’s enablement, and bear fruit.

Others, however, are ‘sellouts’ – leaders who, for the sake of acceptance or popularity, or simply because they love the world system and reject the authority of scripture, are full of compromise. I shudder to think of their accountability in the last day.

Sadly, there are also leaders who are self-seeking and even self-indulgent. Their ministry may appear spiritual and even ‘anointed’, but there is one major problem. It’s all about them – for their own glory, based on their own ‘charisma’, and often focused on their own reputation or prosperity. The church becomes an extension of their ego, a testimony to their success. These leaders do not really serve Jesus or His church. They expect Jesus and the church to serve them.

Another aberration is the sanctimonious church leader. Often appearing very religious, these leaders usually delight in ceremony and ritual, but lack true spiritual substance – “clouds without rain” as Jude puts it.

As anyone who watches the news knows, the ‘sinning’ leader is becoming more and more common. Though all of us still sin and need daily cleansing, these leaders find themselves trapped and unable or unwilling to deal with critical personal issues in their lives. Often full of pride and too ashamed to admit they need help, these leaders act as if everything is fine; but inwardly they are in serious trouble. It is not long before they end up in major moral or financial sin – and life becomes a terrible, shameful burden full of secrecy and deceit. Prentending all is well, they lead church meetings, counsel those in need, and teach God’s word on Sunday while fooling around with the secretary on Friday. Tragically, it all unravels sooner or later – and the damage can be extensive.

Perhaps the saddest for me is the leader who is “souled out” – not sold out, but souled out -tired of people, tired of ministry, and sometimes even tired of God. Often victims of burnout, these leaders need time apart to rest and regain perspective, before they get into worse trouble.

I think we all know that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect leader’ – except, of course, THE perfect leader – Jesus. We all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses. Every leader is vulnerable to failure. However, there is good news. The more intimate we become with the Perfect Leader, the more we long to be like him, the more we seek his purposes and glory, the more we rely on His Holy Spirit, the more like him we become in practice and the less likely we are to fail! Let’s allow the Perfect Leader to express Himself through us!