I shouldn’t have been surprised that behind the scenes of every prevailing ministry I discovered courageous, servant-oriented leaders. Throughout history, whenever God was ready to begin a new work, he would tap a potential leader on the shoulder and give him or her a leadership assignment. In the Old Testament, he chose leaders like Moses, David, Nehemiah, and Esther. In the New Testament he chose people like Peter and Paul. In more recent times, when a wayward church community needed to be called back to its true heart and mission, God used leaders like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley to be the initial catalysts for change.
Ten years ago I sat in a little restaurant during my summer study break and wrote these words: The local church is the hope of the world and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders. For the first time, I realized that from a human perspective the outcome of the redemptive drama being played out on planet Earth will be determined by how well church leaders lead. Many churches are filled with sincere, talented, godly people who would love to leverage their spiritual gifts in order to impact the world for Christ. The question is this: Will the men and women who have been entrusted with leadership gifts take their gifts seriously, develop them fully, and deploy them courageously, so that the willing and gifted believers in their churches can work together to make a difference in the world?
Romans 12:8 tells those of us who have the gift of leadership that we had better sit up and take notice, we had better “lead with diligence.” Why? Because the Church, the bride of Christ, upon which the eternal destiny of the world depends, will flourish or falter largely on the basis of how we lead. If you’re a leader, please reread that sentence and let it sink into your consciousness. Also, please understand that I am not writing about leadership simply to highlight this particular gift. My ultimate concern is not leadership. For me, the bottom line is the Acts 2 church. But I am absolutely convinced that the church will never reach her full redemptive potential until men and women with the leadership gift step up and lead.
People supernaturally gifted to lead must yield themselves fully to God. They must cast powerful, biblical, God-honoring visions. They must build effective, loving, clearly focused teams. They must fire up Christ followers to give their absolute best for God. And they must insist with pit bull determination that
the gospel be preached,
the lost be found,
the believers be equipped,
the poor be served,
the lonely be enfolded into community,
and God gets the credit for it all.
Scripture tells us exactly what will happen if leaders will do what God has called and gifted them to do. The forces of darkness will be pushed back. The Evil One, who has had his way in the world for far too long, will be forced to give ground. And the church will fulfill the redemptive purpose for which Christ called it into being.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about the world we live in — a world where evil manifests itself in ways that defy imagination, where little boys in airports smash each other’s faces, and where madmen reign terror on innocents — I can’t help but commit myself with even greater fervor to the beautiful, powerful, vital Church of Jesus Christ. Where else would I want to employ the leadership gifts God has graciously given me? The church is the hope of the world!
Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.