What is Biblical Leadership?
Pastor Ernie Brodie Jr., Ed.D.
Eugene Peterson wrote, “The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeepers’ concerns - how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money.”
Church leaders have a different priority than a corporation - a different purpose - a different standard of success.
Greg Daman wrote, “. . . the reason why pastors struggle in small churches and often become discouraged is not because of their work ethic or the inherent nature of small churches, or because their congregations are unwilling to change; it’s because they have an inadequate view of what constitutes successful leadership.”
What is biblical leadership? While biblical leadership is often confused with secular leadership, which focuses on authority and power, biblical leadership emphasizes service, humility and spiritual development (Matthew 20:24-28, Luke 22:24-27). Glenn Daman states it this way, “Biblical leaders are first and foremost shepherds who care for the spiritual needs of the people. Spiritual leadership focuses on joyful service and spiritual growth rather than personal gain and success (2 Corinthians 1:24, 1 Peter 5:2-3).”
In other words, the primary task of preaching, mentoring and providing spiritual care is the work of the church. This means that the emphasis of biblical leadership is not organizational growth but spiritual development. In a secular model of leadership, character is secondary to organizational success. In the biblical pattern, character is essential (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1).
Success in ministry is therefore different than corporate leadership. Take for example the concept of being efficient, task-oriented and accomplishing goals. Glenn Daman wrote, “Some of the most important shepherding is ‘inefficient’, accomplished not in a formal teaching environment or in a scheduled counseling appointment, but over a cup of coffee, in the cab of a combine or on a golf course, where pastors have casual opportunities to discuss real life issues from a biblical perspective.”
Please note the weight of the ministry does not rest upon the shoulders of the pastor alone. 2 Timothy 2:2 reveals that we should train others. Ephesians 4:11-16 shows the purpose of spiritual leadership. Verse 12: 1) To equip the saints (believers); 2) For the work of the ministry; 3) For building up the body. Success as a church relates to spiritual development. God can use each of us to develop others for Christ. Your ministry starts at home and moves to others.
Daman, Glenn C. Leading the Small Church: How to Develop a Transformational Ministry. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2006.
Peterson, Eugene H. Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987.