As I’ve spent some time studying leadership this week, I’ve returned to three books that were important to me as a young pastor and professor: Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership (1968; 1980), Joseph Stowell’s Shepherding the Church (1997), and Lynn Anderson’s They Smell Like Sheep (1997). Here are some excerpts about character that still speak to me today:
Spiritual leadership is not won nor established by promotion, but by many prayers, tears and confessions of sin and heart-searchings and humblings before God, and self-surrender and a courageous sacrifice of every idol and a bold and deathless, and uncompromising and uncomplaining embrace of the Cross and an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves (Jer. 45:5), but rather, like Paul, by counting those things that were gain, loss for Christ.
Stowell, Shepherding the Church:[ii]
Character is infinitely more strategic to effectiveness than credentials. For instance . . .
- Character is universally obtainable. Credentials are attainable by only a gifted few.
- Character develops a legacy that will cast its shadow over generations to come. Credentials are quickly forgotten.
- Character is transferable from the leader to those whom he’s leading. Credentials are not transferable.
- Character makes a point about Him. Credentials make a point about us.
- Character is what we will be held accountable for. Credentials won’t count on the day that we stand before Him.
- Character is only forged through a growing, sincere relationship to Christ. Credentials can be gotten quite apart from Christ.
- Character is deepened and developed in crises. . . . Credentials are of little avail when the chips are down.
Anderson, They Smell like Sheep:[iii]
Good spiritual leaders know full well that they are only shepherds, not saviors; they know they are leaders, but not lords; they understand that they may be skillful guides, but they are not gods.
Maybe these words will challenge you today like they’ve challenged me!
[i]Samuel Logan Brengle, quoted in J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership (Chicago: Moody, 1967; 1980), 21.
[ii]Joseph M. Stowell, Shepherding the Church (Chicago: Moody, 1997), 151-152.
[iii]Lynn Anderson, They Smell like Sheep (West Monroe, LA: Howard, 1997), 74.