Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Pastor as a Transforming Leader (Pt 4) – Characteristics

In this segment, we will look at the characteristics that make the transforming leader effective in his organization of the people in carrying out their God-given vision.

A very important, if not the most, feature of the transforming leader’s ministry is his relationship with his congregation. He is able to nurture a special leader-follower relationship that induce devotion and emotional attachments that stirs up a drive to accomplish greater things for God’s Kingdom in pursuit of their shared vision. The following are some characteristics that result from this feature.
  1. Esteem. The pastor should prompt respect and regard from those whom he leads. It makes his task easier to mobilize people towards the vision and I am sure followers will bring to bear great effort to the vision and expect no other reward that to emulate their leader and take pleasure in a shared victory. However, while many may admire qualities such as excellent oration, outstanding intellect or charismatic character, I think to have a good relationship with his followers, the pastor should manifest gifts of grace that displays God’s workmanship in him, such as nobility and godliness. Leaders who exhibit a good blend of both will appeal to their followers.
  2. Trust. The pastor inspires trust because his followers believe that he prayerfully pursues God’s agenda and walks according to God’s ways. They trust in his competence, uprightness and strength of character. His followers affirmation of his leadership should however be balanced with the leader’s honesty, accountability and humility to the trust engendered. In this way, a cultic situation can be averted where the leader induces slavish and blind devotion. Many Christian leaders, such as John Wesley, Hudson Taylor, etc. have had their ministries expanded because they were able to inspire their trusting followers to carry forth their visions into other areas.
  3. Love. Charismatic leadership has many qualities in it – persuasiveness, eloquence in handling God’s word, knowledge, faith, self-sacrifice. Yet Paul tells us that it is worthless if without love (1 Cor 13:1-3). The love described is agape (self-sacrificing) love and the leader should model this to his followers so that they too may reciprocate in love to him and to one another.
One aspect of a pastor’s ministry is to influence people for good. In this regard, he works to expand God’s kingdom by inspiring others to the same vision. One such example is Hudson Taylor who remains the most widely used of God missionary in China's history. During his 51 years of service there, his China Inland Mission established 20 mission stations, brought 849 missionaries to the field (968 by 1911), trained some 700 Chinese workers, raised four million dollars by faith (following Mueller's example), and developed a witnessing Chinese church of 125,000. It has been said at least 35,000 were his own converts and that he baptized some 50,000. His gift for inspiring people to give themselves and their possessions to Christ was amazing. Today his legacy lives on through the work done by the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF). This aspect of influencing/inspiring others remains very important in pastoral ministry if the pastor’s vision is to have any lasting impact in the life of the church.

The Bible addresses the church as the body of Christ (Romans 12:4-6). In any team endeavour, solidarity enables the team to manifest its strengths and its people to effectively use their gifts and talents. Just as Jesus prayed for all believers to be united (John 17:22-23), the pastor should make a core belief of his ministry. Groups have dynamics in their relationships and often these dynamics are affected and perhaps even upset when new members join as others leave. The pastor should remember to repeat the vision so as to ensure the complete unity of the people. When he is diligent in keeping the people united in one common purpose, creativity abounds and dynamic energy is exuded with the result of people having synergy and enthusiasm to attain the goal set.

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