By Mark A. Taylor
No group will understand or fulfill its mission without a leader sounding the charge and setting the example. Eddie Lowen and I talked about this during my Beyond the Standard interview with him July 31.
Churches need to be led, he said, and led by leaders with high integrity.
We could say the same for school boards, corporations, or the government of any nation. But our experience with bad leadership in all of those environments may be one reason some are suspicious of leaders in the church. Can we find a leader more interested in his followers than himself? Can we name a leader sacrificing his own desires for the larger needs of the group? Can we identify leaders who take up the task because they’re committed to the cause more than advancing their own careers? Of course we can. Many of us have such a person in the minister or the elders at our church. But not all of us will acknowledge this.
Integrity is the key factor here, and not just among leaders. Effective leaders flourish with followers who also have integrity.
But integrity alone doesn’t guarantee leadership. A leader gifted to lead must be willing to lead—and the church must be willing to let him.
“We have established a culture of leadership,” Lowen said of the congregation where he ministers, West Side Christian Church, Springfield, Illinois. Any group will be led by someone, he said. At West Side, everyone realizes that the church’s leaders will do the leading.
Or at least almost everyone. “There will always be resistance,” he said. The effective leader isn’t dissuaded by this. He referred to Romans 12: “If your gift . . . is to lead, do it diligently.”
“Invest energy in communication,” he added. “Do this humbly.”
I asked him what I thought was a tough question. “What changes have you initiated that were not your personal preference?” He paused only a second before giving a good answer.
“Productive ministry is full of things that are not the preference of the leader,” he said. And then the zinger: “Some people have decided they can never change their mind about things. But I can.”
You may change your mind about what a leader must do and how a leader can flourish after listening to everything Eddie had to say.* But one thing is sure. Leadership—bold, God-centered, prayer-supported leadership—is at the forefront of any congregation making an impact.
*Listen to the hour-long interview with Eddie Lowen here. Tune in to the August Beyond the Standard episode, “Christian Colleges, the Challenges and the Opportunities,” Thursday, August 28, 11 a.m. Eastern. Details here.