What are the makings of a good leader?
Jesus death and resurrection offers us all the hope of a new beginning. Herein lies both the joy and the power of Easter. Jesus’ death has dealt with the sins of our past, and his resurrection and his Holy Spirit’s presence offers us the hope of a much better future.
It’s very timely that someone who will be having the opportunity of experiencing beginning again this Easter is our very own Malcolm Jefferson, as he is welcomed as the new leader of St Andrew’s Leckie Church in Peebles. As you know, Malcolm has been serving with us here for the last 15 months, but the time has now come for him to move on.
I well remember what it felt like at the beginning of my own ministry here at Liberton. I’ve often described it as feeling as if I’d jumped aboard a stagecoach which was hurtling down the road, and someone had just handed me the reins. Looking back, I’m so thankful that I wasn’t alone. I soon discovered that God was still around to give me directions, and that there were lots of fellow passengers who were happy to offer encouragement and support.
One question which I have been pondering recently, however, has been, “If I were to begin again at Liberton, what would I have done differently?” The answer I would now give is, “Focus much more of my time and energy on training up leaders from within the church.” Over the last fifteen years I have found out the hard way that the main thing which stops us being the church God wants us to be is not a lack of money, or a lack of people (he always seems willing to provide them both). It is a lack of leaders – of people who are confident enough in their faith and in their ability to lead others.
This is a problem which Jesus too had to face, and when we look at what he did about it we discover some interesting things. None of his disciples, for example, were from ‘religious’ occupations, nor were they well known or prominent citizens. In fact, Jesus didn’t seem to choose them because of their background at all, or their knowledge for that matter, or their experience. He seems to have chosen them because of their character. He saw in them the potential to be leaders and that was good enough for him.*
Later on, in his letter to Timothy, Paul gives some good advice about choosing leaders. He suggests that they be “…temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Timothy 3.2b) As I sit writing this, what strikes me most is that the description Paul is giving here is one that, in my mind, seems to fit Malcolm to a tee. The Folks at St Andrew’s Leckie have certainly chosen well, and, as the fellow passengers on his stage coach, we wish them God’s blessing as they set off on this new stretch of their journey together.
*For a good book on the subject, see “Twelve Ordinary Men”, by John MacArthur