Five tips for Christian leaders
How to lead like Jesus.
Many young Christians find themselves presented, at some point, with the opportunity to take up a position of Christian leadership. Whether it’s at church teaching Sunday school or leading at youth group, or in your school or university Christian group, or in another organisation, leadership is a great privilege that gives you the opportunity to help others, and also grow.
If you’ve been invited to lead, or would like to lead in the future, here are five ways to ensure that you’re leading in a godly, sustainable and joyful way.
Remember it’s not about impressing others
When you’re invited to take up a role that will put you in the sight of others, it’s extremely tempting to make sure everyone knows how amazing you are. You’re going to be tempted to seek praise, take on tasks that are visible to others and bask in the admiration of those who haven’t yet been asked to lead.
But this is not what leadership is about! Jesus calls us to be servant leaders, putting others before ourselves at all times and graciously doing the invisible tasks. Your role in leadership is to show God’s love to others and to bring glory to him, not to show everyone how great you are or to bring glory to yourself.
Recognising this is actually very freeing. Instead of trying to be amazing and perfect and admirable, you can strive instead to please God, keeping your eyes on him, not checking who’s watching you.
Work within the team
Being a leader does not mean suppressing or subduing others. More often than not you’ll lead in a team, and the way you treat those alongside you is just as important as the work you are doing.
Rather than seeking to be the best in the team, work with the team to build things together. Encourage others regularly, learn from those who are more experienced than you and pray for everyone in your team. If you’re leading alone, gather a group of people who you can ask for advice and who will pray for your ministry.
Seek wisdom from God
If you’re doing what you’re doing to glorify God, then it makes sense to seek wisdom from him! Spend time in the Bible, reading about God and his will for you. Consider how what you read applies to your leadership role. How should you behave towards others? What does God want you to prioritise in your leadership?
It’s also extremely important that you ensure you’re regularly being fed from God’s word in community. Even though taking a leadership role may make you more tired, commit to being at church every week, and try and go to a Bible study as well. That way you’ll continue to grow in your capacity as a leader and you’ll bring all that good stuff to those you are leading.
Recognise when you need rest
All of us need rest every once in awhile - even Jesus withdrew from the crowds to rest and pray! Make sure that you avoid burnout by taking breaks when necessary. Your ministry may have breaks built into it (such as school holidays), but if not, talk to those in leadership over you about ways you can take time to rest without harming the ministry.
Sometimes you’ll need a big break. After leading youth group for five years, I took an entire year off in order to recharge, regain my zeal for working with youth and to ensure I didn’t overcommit. It was one of the best ministry decisions I’ve ever made, even though it was hard to walk away.
Say no if you aren’t ready
Sometimes people will ask you to step into leadership roles you aren’t sure you’re ready for. Reflect very seriously whenever you are asked to lead something. Consider honestly how you’re going spiritually, and whether you have the maturity necessary for this role.
If you aren’t ready yet, it’s ok to say no! Make sure you explain why you aren’t ready, because this will ensure the people who asked you can invest in helping you grow, so that one day you are ready.
If you’ve been asked to lead and you’re ready to jump in, all the best! Keep praying, keep learning and stay humble, and God will bless your efforts.
Have you been asked to lead? How are you trying to be like Jesus in your role?