At this exact moment, I have now been married for 43 years and I have always believed that it takes a lifetime to build a God-honoring home. A God-honoring marriage and home is something that is fluid … something we should always strive to attain, but never feel as though we have “arrived.” I feel the same holds true with my thoughts about Christian leadership. I have sought to be a Christ-honoring leader as a pastor of Southern Baptist churches for the last 37 years, however I feel that I fail in so many areas. God continues to use these failures to help build me into the man of God and leader that I desire to be.
I have always attempted to base what I believe about Christian leadership on four key imperatives:
The first key imperative is Lordship: I believe in order to be a Christian leader, I must, first and foremost, be rightly related to God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In that right relationship, I must be surrendered in my position by allowing Him to lead and direct my life.
The second key imperative is Relationship: There is nothing more important in life than relationships. I often say at wedding ceremonies, “You are making the second most important decision of your life; the first being a relationship with Jesus Christ and the second being a relationship with your spouse.” Relationships are what give meaning to life. From the people I have the privilege to serve with daily at First Baptist Church Woodstock, to the pastors and missionaries around the world that God has brought into my life, I am blessed with many wonderful, meaningful relationships.
The third key imperative is Stewardship: One thing is a given, we only have a certain number of days here on earth. Our earthly future is uncertain to us, but is precisely planned by our Creator. Each day, God gives us the privilege to decide how we will use our time. I desire to honor the lordship of Jesus Christ, but also to use my time wisely and steward it to God’s kingdom by redeeming the time. The Lord has given me time, talents and treasures, and I must steward all of them. I find myself constantly reflecting on how I can do a better job with each of those responsibilities.
The fourth key imperative is Partnership: This is where I get strategic with how and where I invest my time, talents and resources. I always ask, who can I partner with in life to make a greater impact for the Kingdom? Typically, I partner with mission agencies, such as our International Mission Board, or church planting partnerships through the North American Mission Board and other local churches.
One thing about Christian leadership that has become crystal clear in my life is that you cannot transport that which you do not possess. I realize that before I can encourage others to do something, I must first be emulating that in my own life.
In Titus 2:6, Paul is speaking into the life of Titus after leaving him to develop leaders on the large Mediterranean island of Crete. Paul tells Titus to teach these leaders to be sober-minded. He only taught that one exhortation. Simple. He then followed that with five or six major statements concerning what must be displayed in that person’s individual life. Emulation must be a reality if we desire for the exhortations we present to be embraced by those we are attempting to influence.