4 Must-Haves of Effective Christian Leadership

What does it take to be a good leader?

Every nation, every organization and every church needs effective leaders. Because so much hinges on the quality and performance of leaders, leadership has emerged as a major area of study. Key question: What makes effective christian leadership? What qualities are important for effective Christian  leadership in society generally, and in the church?

More basically: What is leadership? “Leadership is influence,” some say. That’s only partly true. It would be equally true to say, “Leadership is character,” because what a person is fundamentally shapes what she or he does. People of strong character and moral integrity do have influence and often become leaders, perhaps unintentionally.

But good leadership is more complex than this. It can’t be reduced to just one quality or dynamic. From a Christian standpoint, effective leadership is a combination of four basic ingredients: character, ability, vision and experience.

4 Must-Haves of Effect Christian Leadership

1. Character

Character denotes a person’s inner being; their fundamental moral nature. Character is shaped largely by family influences and by the choices a person makes throughout life. Good character results from good choices; bad character from choices that are bad and ultimately self-destructive. Good character includes the virtues of integrity, patience, humility, moderation, self-control and determination.

Biblically speaking, good character means embodying moral wisdom. The book of Proverbs, especially, teaches character formation. For the Christian, good character is having the mind of Jesus Christ (who is “the wisdom of God”) and manifesting the fruit of the Spirit.

The greatest leaders are those with upright moral character—people who recognize their own character flaws, but refuse to yield to them, controlling themselves so they focus their energy and creativity on worthy goals.

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Formerly professor of the history and theology of mission, Asbury Theological Seminary (1996-2006); now engaged in research and writing in Wilmore, Kentucky. Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, 2007-2012. Formerly taught and pastored in São Paulo, Brazil; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. Howard Snyder’s main interest is in the power and relevance of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom for the world today and tomorrow. He has written on a range of topics including church history, cultural trends, globalization, worldviews, evangelism, and various cultural issues.