What happens when we excuse ourselves from the obligations of the Gospel? Every Christian leader knows they must undergo a steep learning curve to progress from new believer, to follower, to disciple to ultimately becoming a leader.
It may come as a surprise to some that the pace of church growth is so rapid that there aren’t enough leaders to keep up with demand, particularly in continents such as Africa and South America. In fact, nearly 95% of those in leadership roles in the developing world have no formal qualifications.
Shaped and Formed by the Gospel
But who teaches them about Godliness as leaders? What are the qualities that are non-negotiable for Christian leaders? And what happens if we excuse ourselves from meeting these sorts of obligations? There is so much we can we learn from the Bible about the essential qualities of Godly leadership.
Dr Gary Millar is Principal of the Queensland Theological College in Brisbane, and Co-Founder of the Gospel Coalition Australia. He recently joined us on 20Twenty to share his thoughts on how we can equip and train people to serve and lead effectively, both in the local church and beyond.
‘Essentially it’s my role to do everything to lead a staff to speak into the lives of students,’ says Gary, ‘with the great goal of seeing the local church flourish across Queensland and beyond. What we want to see is people being shaped and formed by the Gospel and growing in their knowledge of themselves and of God.’
God is Speaking
Gary believes it’s vital for the students to never lose sight of the fact that ultimately God is speaking to us through His word. We need to bring our minds, our thinking and our lives into line with that. Every conversation should flow out of God speaking to us first.
‘Godliness is essential,’ says Gary. ‘It’s an umbrella term that sums up what it means to live in a way that is like the Lord Jesus and pleasing to our Heavenly Father. You could almost substitute it for holiness. God says, be holy, for I am holy, although that focuses on being different and morally pure. Godliness is even broader. It’s living in the way that God asks us to, which in turn reflects the way in which our God, father, son and spirit lives.’
According to Gary, there is great value in actually being part of a cohort of students all studying together. There’s something very different about being in a room with people, as opposed to studying online. As in church, we do need each other as we seek together to find the mind of God and then live it out.
The Glory of God
‘Jesus Himself ultimately embodies godliness,’ says Gary. ‘And when we read the Gospels or the Sermon on the Mount, we see Jesus describing the kind of life that we’re called to. Where do you see the glory of God? You see glimpses of it everywhere. But doing justice to the whole thing is difficult.’
Gary was prompted to explore the concept of Godliness after repeatedly witnessing leaders, both on an international and local level, spectacularly crash and burn. In each instance, one of two issues was at play: either the individual had become comfortable excusing behaviours that most right-minded Christians would recognise as unacceptable, or they had isolated themselves from others to the point where those around them were either too intimidated or unaware to intervene.
‘When we start to think about those two things,’ says Gary, ‘we have to ask how do we take responsibility for our own Godliness and how we ensure that we are accountable to other people?’
‘It just makes sense that every leader at every level in the Church of the Lord Jesus needs to have both those things in place.’
Listen to Gary’s full interview on 20Twenty below: