On July 10 I began a series of blog posts on J. Oswald Sanders' classic, Spiritual Leadership. The first post is here, and contains the rationale for the series along with a personal testimony of how God used this book in my life. Today we come to chapter 8, Sanders' second chapter on qualities essential to leadership. The qualities that Sanders includes in this chapter are: humor, anger, patience, friendship. tact and diplomacy, inspirational power and executive ability. This chapter reminded me of why Spiritual Leadership is such an excellent book and is still in print: Sanders addresses the whole person. This aspect of Sanders' work is what I want to think about today.
One of the many challenges facing the church when it comes to leadership is the abundance of specialists lacking a complete palette of paints. Their leadership portraits (both the pictures of themselves and the pictures of the organizations that they lead) lack the richness and diversity of past leadership. So, we often hear that Leader W is a great teacher, but terribly irritable. Or, Leader X is a good visionary, but a terrible executive. Or, Leader Y is pragmatic and effective at generating growth, but theologically weak. Or, Leader Z is grave and serious, but he has no sense of humor and children fear him.
All leaders will have their strong suits, but no true leader can completely neglect crucial aspects of leadership. Can we imagine saying of Jesus or Paul, "Great vision, but no heart for the flock." Or, "They love people, but are not strong enough to stand for what is right." Or, "These guys are all about reaching people, but have no doctrinal foundation." Or, "They love theology, but have no heart for mission." Or, "Great hearts, but not the sharpest knives in the drawer." No way. When it comes to pastors and elders in the local church we need well rounded men with a full palette when it comes to character, gifts, skills and disposition. Sanders gives a vision for that type of man. It is a book to be read and re-read.
What's your strong suit? Where are the cracks in your armor? Praise God for your gifts. Pray to God for the Holy Spirit to transform your character and hone your skills. Have a holy ambition to be more like Jesus Christ. In the gospel you are free to fail in your quest for Christ-likeness, and guaranteed to succeed. Jesus has paid the price for failure, and provided the power for transformation.