Dead leaders make dead people

Elliot Ritzema » Church Church Leadership Wisdom

A leader’s spiritual well-being is vital to a ministry’s well-being.

Your sermon lasts but an hour or two. Your life preaches all the week.

If you read many books on leadership, even Christian leadership, you’ll see a lot of focus on technique. We want to know “how to” lead a church or other organization—and other questions like “where to” and “why to” remain in the background. One of the most important questions we forget to ask, or ask in the wrong way, is “who to.” We may emphasize the leadership and communication gifts a person possesses. But throughout church history, leaders acknowledged the importance of gifts while remembering something we often forget: A leader’s spiritual well-being is vital to a ministry’s well-being. When a leader struggles, the numbers may still look good for a while, but death is around the corner. Leadership gifts, on their own, aren’t enough.

1. Dead leaders make dead people

A dead ministry will always make a dead people, whereas if ministers are warmed with the love of God themselves, they cannot but be instruments of diffusing that love among others.

—George Whitefield

2. Your example can have a greater impact than your sermons

Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this. Your sermon on Sabbath lasts but an hour or two; your life preaches all the week. Remember, ministers are standard-bearers. Satan aims his fiery darts at them. If he can only make you a covetous minister, or a lover of pleasure, or a lover of praise, or a lover of good eating, then he has ruined your ministry forever. Ah! Let him preach on fifty years, he will never do me any harm. Dear brother, cast yourself at the feet of Christ, implore his Spirit to make you a holy man. Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine.

—Robert Murray McCheyne

3. Self-examination before taking on leadership is necessary

No one would venture to undertake the building of a house were he not an architect, nor will any one attempt the cure of sick bodies who is not a skilled physician; but even though many urge him, will beg off, and will not be ashamed to own his ignorance; and shall he who is going to have the care of so many souls entrusted to him, not examine himself beforehand?

—John Chrysostom

4. Leaders must practice what they preach

Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine, and lest you lay such stumbling blocks before the blind as may be the occasion of their ruin; lest you may unsay that with your lives which you say with your tongues; and be the greatest hinderers of the success of your own labours.

 —Richard Baxter

This adapted excerpt, courtesy of Logos Bible Software, is from 300 Quotations for Preachers. 300 Quotations contains quotes from more than 70 authors and works, including Augustine of Hippo, Richard Baxter, John Calvin, G. K. Chesterton, Martin Luther, and more. Purchase 300 Quotations for Preachers today.

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