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What does a Christian Leader look like? - Christian Unions Ireland
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What does a Christian Leader look like?

Helen Blakey, 19/03/19

“A leader is…” “A leader must be able to…” How you would complete those sentences? Share your thoughts by sharing this post and tagging us in it, to win a free copy of “God’s Leader” by Andy Mason. In the meantime, here’s Helen’s (Staffworker in Connacht) thoughts on the question.

What does a Christian Leader look like?

There are many opinions about what makes a leader and what is expected of them. There are numerous books, conferences and quotations on leadership.  In the secular and Christian world, we see some similarities between good leaders– leading with excellence and vision and empowering others for a task, communicating well and developing strategies. We can think about questions such as:

‘What makes a great leader?’ 

‘What motivates someone to lead as they do?’ 

‘What qualities of that leader would I like to see in my own life?’

It is important to note that are some characteristics which are vital for spiritual leadership–such as that in a Christian Union. (You can see one of those in our previous blog post here)

“Leaders serve in order that Christ is formed in people’s hearts by faith and in order that non–Christians are invited to commit their lives to God”

Marcus Honeyset, Fruitful Leaders

Serving for Jesus’ sake

Leaders who display Jesus are those who are following him and his example of love and humility.

In 2 Corinthians 4.5, the Apostle Paul writes “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake.”

In this verse, Paul explains that spiritual leadership is being willing to serve others for the purpose of them growing in relationship with Jesus. As Jesus himself washed the disciples’ feet, so leaders are called to ‘wash the feet’ of those they are leading. Jesus did not use his position for his own gain, rather, He humbled himself in order to demonstrate the character and purposes of His Father. Leaders are called to be those who want others to think that Jesus is wonderful, not that they are wonderful.

 “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” John Maxwell

Galatians 5.13 reminds us that as Christians we are called to be free. But we are not to use that freedom to indulge the flesh; but to serve one another humbly in love. As leaders serve people in love, they will have the opportunity to grow in Christ–likeness and help others to do the same.


prayerful leaders

Gifts of God’s Grace

All of the gifts, resources and talents given to us by God are for the purpose of extending his kingdom! We have a responsibility for how we steward them and use them for God’s purposes, especially when in a position of leadership.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Romans 12.6–8

This passage in Romans reminds us that not only does God give us gifts, but he provides each person with something different. All leaders do not have the same strengths and abilities and that is a wonderful thing! It demonstrates God’s creativity and our need for a Christian community where everyone is encouraged to use what God has given them. God works through individuals, as part of the whole body for his purposes. 

The important thing to remember is that these are all given by God’s grace and therefore should be used in a way that brings God glory and equips people to live for him. In Ephesians 4 there is a great picture of people using their leadership gifts and ministries ‘so that the body of Christ may be built up… and become mature.’ 1 Peter 4.11 reminds us that we should use our gifts ‘with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.’ This removes any possibility of boasting in our abilities or thinking that one leadership gift is more useful or important than another.

The purpose of serving and using our gifts in spiritual leadership is always to point people to Jesus and bring glory to the Father, through the Holy Spirit.

Let’s think about what these things mean for your CU…

  • What could servant leadership look like on your campus?
  • What does it mean to lead with Jesus as Lord?
  • What opportunities do you have to encourage others in the gifts God has given them?
  • How would remembering that your gifts and talents are because of God’s grace help you use them for his kingdom?

If you are an incoming CU committee member, please join us at Catalyst for a more in depth look at what it means to be a Christian leader

  • 10am – 4pm, Saturday 6th April, Saintfield Road PCI, Belfast
  • 10am – 4pm, Saturday 13th April, Grosvenor Rd Baptist, Dublin

Cost: £5 or €5 (includes lunch and resources)

To book, click here (available 20th March onwards)