Leadership is a buzz word. A simple google search on leadership will return thousands of books, podcasts, and blog posts. You’ll get leadership as it applies to vision, to strategy, to principle, and everything else.
Of course, you might argue that the resources currently being produced around the subject are far too many; that the subject matter is bloated, and that at least some (if not most) of those resources ironically come from people who are not currently in leadership positions.
But then again, we would have to recognize that all of us are leaders. Too often we confine this word to the vocational realm, but in reality, all of us are leading something. We are leading a group at church, we are leading our families in the home, we are leading others in conversation – at the very least, we are leading ourselves under the lordship of Jesus. By that standard, there is something around leadership for all of us.
And also by that standard, we can recognize that the gospel has very real, tangible impact to the manner of our leadership. At that suggestion, we might point to the obvious – that the gospel makes us, as leaders, more understanding, more forgiving, and more patient. All those things are true, and yet all those things are also true of us generally as people. Because God is forgiving, we also ought to be forgiving. Because God is understanding, we also ought to be understanding. Because God is patient, so also should we be patient. This should be true of us as Christians in general.
So let’s not stop there. Let’s think even more specifically – and when we do, we will find a number of more specific ways that the gospel impacts our leadership:
1. The gospel compels us to be organized leaders.
At times it does indeed feel like God’s plan is unorganized. We feel like victims of circumstance; we are forced time and time again to acknowledge that there is precious little under our control. But it’s important to remember that God is doing a billion things at one time for a billion different reasons, weaving together a majestic and sovereign tapestry for the good of His people and His own glory. God consistently brings order out of chaos.
I would imagine that in the days after the crucifixion of Jesus that it felt that way to the disciples too. They thought they understood the times in which they were living and the work God was doing, and then everything went sideways. They were confused, dejected, and afraid – and yet God was not acting haphazardly. He was organized. Methodical. Intentional. And a few weeks later, the disciples knew it:
“Fellow Israelites, listen to these words: This Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through him, just as you yourselves know. Though he was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him” (Acts 2:22-23).
God is not chaotic. Because He is not, neither is the message of the gospel. The gospel brings our lives into right order, and one of the implications of that is that we must also, as leaders, bring organization and order to what otherwise might be chaotic.
2. The gospel compels us to be calm leaders.
Leadership is synonymous with responsibility. Of course, those responsibilities vary depending on the scope of your leadership, but there is always an element of responsibility accompanying leadership. And with responsibility comes weight and pressure. And with that pressure comes anxiety. That’s the progression:
Leadership = responsibility = pressure = anxiety
That is, unless, our leadership is being shaped by the gospel. The gospel enables us to joyfully accept the responsibility and the accompanying pressure and weight that comes with it in a calm manner. How does that happen?
One reason is because when we believe the gospel we are also believing that as His children, God is working all things together for our good and His glory. We can lead with a sense of calm because we know God is good and wise and that the future is already and completely in His hands.
But another reason we can lead calmly is because the gospel frees us from the compulsion to lead and work for the validation of others. When we believe the gospel, we are believing that we are fully justified because of the work of Jesus. We can lead and work from a posture of rest because ultimately, we don’t have anything to prove:
“Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience” (Heb. 4:9-11).
3. The gospel compels us to be clear leaders.
One of the hallmarks of great leadership, whether leading an organization or a home, is the ability to take that which is very complex and simplify it so that it is understandable for those you are leading. In many ways, this is actually THE act of leadership – it’s boiling everything down to a few simple principles and actions that are foundational. Leaders must have the ability to cut through the fog to the core issue before them, and then have the courage to clearly and articulately name that specific issue.
Here, too, the gospel compels us. The gospel compels us to an ever greater sense of clarity. This is true first and foremost because the gospel is clear. It may be difficult, it may be limiting, it may require faith, but one thing the gospel is not is complicated:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
God loves us enough to be very clear with us – He is clear about who we are, what our problem is, and where to find the solution. That alone is enough to compel us to seek clarity for the good of those around us.
But another reason the gospel compels us to be clear leaders is because the gospel, as we continue to believe and grow in Christ, forces us to reckon with our own selves on a daily basis. When we believe the gospel, we cannot merely look at our sinful acts, our fear, or our habits on the surface level; we must go deeper to the heart. In so doing, we are gaining clarity on the true doubt or failure to believe that is driving those things.
We are all leading something or someone today, friends. Let’s make sure to consider how the gospel shapes that leadership in big and small ways.