September 6, 2019


By Russell George

A servant of the Lord needs to be a leader. If you are a servant of the Lord your job is to help people make good decisions. You want them to follow your advice. If a stranger walks up to me and starts telling me what I should do, I’m not very inclined to take his advice. People need to get to know you before they will take your advice.

The purpose of this article is to give you some advice from what I have learned about being a good leader. To a certain extent, it is a God given gift, but our gifts must be perfected. Some have the gift of music, but they still need to study music to perfect their gift. To be an effective servant of the Lord we need to acquire knowledge. If you feel that God has called you to serve him you need to study. You will need to have a good knowledge of the Bible. You don’t need to wait until you can go to Bible college to start learning about the Bible. You gain Bible knowledge by reading the Bible. You can study it, memorize key verses, and meditate on it.

Servants of the Lord, who have a limited knowledge of the Bible, won’t be looked up to as leaders. You can’t be trusted to lead people to a deeper knowledge of God’s Word if your knowledge of it is limited. We grow in our knowledge of God’s Word as we serve him.

You will, however, need to go to Bible college. Be careful which one you go to. Unfortunately, some don’t still have the high standards that they had just a few years ago. They lower their standards, thinking it will enable them to attract more students. Some have lost students because they lowered their standards. Some have even had to close their doors.

When I graduated from Bible college and seminary I hadn’t learned all I needed to know about leadership. I learned many valuable lessons from experience and from the counsel of others. A leader needs to be a life long learner. I’m still learning some good things about leadership, but now that I’m retired I may never have occasion to put it into practice.

Good leaders are people lovers. They have a genuine desire to help people. They must make themselves available. They must identify with the people they serve. They need to get to know their people and find out what their needs are. They should find out how they think. If they aren’t thinking right you may need to preach and teach on that. If they are thinking right you can commend them for it. Especially in your first year at a church, you can ask them what they expect of you as their pastor. Be open and willing to accept counsel. You might ask them, “How can I better serve you as your pastor?”

A pastor can commend himself to his people by the way he conducts himself among them. He can do that by visiting them in their homes. When he is there he should read a portion of the Bible and exhort them to have a close walk with the Lord. He should also ask them, “Do you have any special needs that I can pray about?”

If he wants his people to be followers he needs to win their respect. He needs to dress himself in a manner appropriate for his high calling. He won’t turn people off just because he is dressed better than they are. For him to preach the holy Bible behind the sacred desk in casual dress is degrading to the Bible and the pulpit. In all my years as a missionary in Argentina I, and all the other missionaries I knew, always wore a shirt and tie on Sunday. No one else did, but they still looked up to me.

A leader needs to win the confidence of his people. Many people have personal problems and are bearing burdens. There are things that they share with their pastor that they don’t want to become common knowledge. It is a comfort to them to know that they can share those things with their pastor with full confidence that he will not pass it on. You as a pastor shouldn’t even share all you know with your wife. By the way, sometimes women in the church feel confident with sharing things with the pastor’s wife that they don’t want others to know. She too should keep it in confidence.

A successful pastor needs to get his church behind him. Perhaps the proper concept of who leaders are is reflected by the fact that the word “leader” is found only once in the New Testament (Mat. 15:14). The word “servant” is found over 80 times. A pastor is a servant of the Lord and also a servant of the church he pastors. The best way to do that is by consulting with his people. It starts in the deacon’s meetings. Before he moves ahead with something he needs to consult with them. If they aren’t in agreement with what he wants to do he had best not do it. The deacons are men who have been chosen by the church members. They have confidence that they have enough wisdom to make good decisions. If they have voted in favor of what the pastor wants to do the church members will most likely get behind him and help him accomplish what he wants to do.

In Argentina I sometimes only had one deacon. I consulted with him, but I also met together with and consulted with all who held an office in the church. That included women also. Often there were more women than men. I learned a lot from all of them. If you don’t have your church members behind you, you are a dictator, not a leader.

Pastors need to have a close relationship with the Lord. Many times you will feel overwhelmed with the burdens you are bearing. You and the Lord are in this work together. It’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t see the progress you would like to see. When that happens, don’t lay the blame on your people. Share your concern with the Lord and let him give you the consolation you need.

Being called of God to be a pastor is a high calling, but don’t be proud of who you are. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” You are just a servant. If you are proud you won’t be able to hide it from your people. It will cause them to lose respect for you. You need to make them feel that you are just one of them.


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