Distinctives of Christian Leadership -- By: William D. Lawrence

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 144:575 (Jul 1987)
Article: Distinctives of Christian Leadership
Author: William D. Lawrence


Distinctives of Christian Leadership

William D. Lawrence

Associate Professor of Pastoral Ministries
Dallas Theological Seminary

What makes Christian leadership unique? In what distinctive ways does following Christ mark leadership?

There is a kind of leadership which is Christian and which unbelievers can talk about but never accomplish. The distinctively Christian marks of leadership form the foundation for Christian thinking about this subject, as Leroy Eims emphasized when he wrote, “We need to look at leadership from the standpoint of the Bible.”1

The aim of this article is to discuss seven aspects that are unique to Christian leadership, that is, leadership that seeks to pursue the purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian Leadership Is Distinctive as to Its Position

Christian leadership is different from other kinds of leadership because no Christian leader can assume the position of being “number one,” that is, the leader. This is true because those who believe in Christ know there is only one “Number One,” namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore a Christian leader must know who the Leader is. He must know who is in control and that he is not in control. Jesus

commended His disciples for calling Him Teacher and Lord (John 13:13), titles that show Him to be their superior in knowledge and authority. These titles show that He was the One to whom they were accountable, the One they were to follow. There was no confusion as to who the Leader was.

The chief characteristic of a Christian leader must be submission to Christ, and only those who have learned that submission is the key to power2 can be effective Christian leaders. “The crown of…Christian leadership is a crown of thorns.”3 It is when the leader learns to submit to Christ as the Leader, that is, when he learns to fly “the white flag of victory,”4 that he becomes an authoritative Christian leader. The Apostle Paul demonstrated this throughout his ministry as Butt observes:

Christ’s authority gave authority to Paul! Of his authority Paul had no doubt; he exercised it decisively and continuously…. This is no namby-pamby egalitarianism, no wishy washy leaderless group. Paul had a magnificent sense of command. Slave to Christ acting like a general! He showed us leadership up close; he was in charge and he knew ...

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