Putting the “God Factor” Back Into Leadership
By F. Joe Ellis
Luke 6:12-13 NKJV
Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:
John 15:5 NKJV
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
So what is the God Factor?
In short, it is to know and understand we will accomplish nothing of eternal value without Jesus Christ! As leaders in the kingdom of God, we are called to be stewards of HIS divine purpose, not owners or lords of it. Therefore, HE must be the Lord and Master over every decision we make. HE must be allowed to cast the deciding vote and be the primary decision maker over HIS business called the church; otherwise, HE ceases to be Lord.
The example and instructions Jesus set for us in the above two scriptures are so clear to understand, yet admittedly, at times, difficult to put into practice on a daily basis. The pendulum of leadership styles, and protocol, has swung very wide over the past century, unlike any other time in history. There have been many positive leadership shifts that have brought the church closer to its original apostolic structure and pattern as given to us in the book of Acts.
However, there must also be a twenty-first century application to the example set by Jesus, in the above verses, if the church is ever going to quantum leap into its God-ordained potential. The God Factor must be a living daily practice, not just an ideal that is only talked about.
* Why did Jesus feel it was necessary to pray all night before selecting the twelve apostles? Did HE totally lay aside HIS divine nature and omniscience while he walked the earth as the man Christ Jesus, or could it be that HE was giving us a visible living example of the need humanity has for divine guidance?
* Are we supposed to take literally the words of Jesus? HE said, “Without ME, you can do nothing.” You decide!
Reflecting the God Factor
So what are the most important factors to consider when selecting those who will serve in leadership, or, even more importantly, in selecting those who are to be successors? Obviously, the list becomes endless when trying to identify the specific needs of a local church. The same is true at all levels of the church as well. No policy becomes more weighty or important than the process that governs the selection of its leadership.
To set in stone one particular method of selection in my opinion, would greatly limit the sovereignty of Jesus Christ over HIS church. Neither is this writing designed to say what process is best. There is, however, one overriding core principle that must take precedence over everything we do. There is NO substitute for the God factor! Jesus Christ must be given back HIS church and permitted to be LORD once again. Every church policy and procedure that governs this post modern Apostolic Church should reflect the God factor! Every church service to every business meeting should reflect the God factor! Every leader at every level of leadership should reflect the God factor!
Never forget-without HIM we can do nothing.
Quite honestly, how strongly we believe in the God Factor and how desperately we need HIS direction and help can be clearly identified by the way we conduct business meetings, choose future leaders and make kingdom decisions. How important is the God factor to you?
Who vs. What
Building an effective leadership team is not an easy process and more than likely will be one of the most challenging efforts any senior leader will ever face. The bible clearly proves that “who” the leader is, and the character and integrity that he or she brings to the table, far outweighs the importance of their skill and “what” their able to do.
Best selling author Jim Collins and his “Good to Great” research team also discovered this in their five years of research studying over three hundred different corporations. Their research proved that it does not matter what needs an organization has. The fact is, policy and procedure flows through people. Nothing happens efficiently or effectively without the right people. The right “who” has to be on the bus and in the right seat. (My paraphrase)
Sometimes this requires that those in senior leadership do the more difficult task of getting the wrong people off the bus. This is especially difficult when the same people occupy specific roles in the church over extended periods of time. Unfortunately tenure of service sometimes causes people to lose their servant’s heart. They forget the God factor, and become a lord and master of their position. Removing them becomes more difficult than pulling an eye tooth from a caged Pit Bull.
Taking ownership without taking lordship is not easy, but it is right. The God factor will always remind us’ Jesus has the right to change my seat and position anytime HE chooses. It is what is best for the church, not what is best for me, that matters!
The God Factor and the Right People
Experience has taught that rarely, if ever, do people who love God and have served faithfully for years, need to be completely removed from the bus. They only need repositioned in the right seat that better compliments their gifting. Time and experience has a way of changing all of us, as well as what we do. Why would we ever want to hold on to a position that is not God’s will and does not fit our present reality? Our gifts should always compliment and help advance the future direction of the church… never slow it down!
A word of warning is in order; there should always be much prayer and great caution taken when adjusting people’s roles and responsibilities that have given their life serving HIS cause to best of their ability. The church is not a cut-throat greed-based organization, but a life giving organism that loves and cares about people. Helping people find their God given purpose should be our ultimate desire as leaders. The God factor requires us as leaders to never forget that as well and understand we hold the souls of men and women in a delicate balance. The decisions we make will affect not only their present life, but their eternity.
On the other hand, to effectively build the right leadership team, the church does not just need people to fill positions. It needs the right people in the right position placed in divine order by their God given calling and gifting! That is the God factor!
Culture and the God Factor
Every church has its own unique culture or style of ministry based on the founding pastor or long standing Senior Leadership of that local church. Any congregation that has been under the influence of the same pastor for at least five years or longer has more than likely taken on his or her personal characteristics and vision. However, if their length of tenure has been twenty years or longer, there will be a leadership culture that has been shaped into the core of those people and it will not be easily changed.
That is why it is so critical for those who serve as founders or senior leaders of the church, be it local or corporate, to stay humble, God fearing, and never forget the importance of the God factor. No matter how long they serve, it is not about them! They must never lose their passion and need to seek HIS will in every decision they make; especially when they are setting the course of direction for the next generation. Leaders at any level and regardless of their length of tenure or level of sacrifice must never take ownership of the church. It was God’s own blood, not theirs that purchased it!
Since, we are dealing with the church, and not just an organization, The God Factor must be our first and foremost concern! When considering the God factor, there are some questions that should not be ignored or minimized. When the God factor is the priority, fervent prayer and waiting on God will precede every decision and leadership selection. As a leader, I would ask you to prayerfully consider the following questions:
The God Factor- Self Evaluation
* Is Jesus truly Lord of the church you are leading?
* If so, how intentional are you in seeking HIM on a daily or weekly basis, over the decisions you make?
* Are you presently and intentionally grooming someone as your successor, regardless of your present age?
* Can you say without hesitation, it is God’s choice and not just yours?
* Have you clearly and intentionally attempted to identify people in your congregation that God is raising up to serve with you at some capacity? If so, what are you doing to get them in the right seat with you?
* Have you possibly overlooked a misunderstood Joseph in your midst? Someone with a God-given calling may be hidden by God, until it is God’s time to make his gifts known?
* Could you possibly have overlooked a David in your congregation who has served you faithfully for years, but has such an off-colored past, that you have not even considered him as a worthy candidate for leadership at all, let alone to be your successor?
* Could there be a Peter God has spoken to you about; unlearned, rather impetuous, even bold and brash at times? But it is so difficult because there are others who are more qualified in the eyes of the people.
* Remember the God factor! Who among us would have looked at Peter’s qualifications and ever thought he would be God’s choice to be the key note speaker at Pentecost, and the chief apostle to the Jews?
* Would God be able to call and elevate a modern day Saul of Tarsus to lead us, using our present day measurement for ministry and leadership?
* Should God expect the church to accept a Saul of Tarsus as the chief apostle to the gentiles?
Yes- because of the God factor! As Bro. T. F. Tenney once said, “God has this problem: He thinks He’s God!”
A Call to Revisit the God Factor
Make no mistake about it. There is a “God Factor” that challenges the leadership paradigm in this post modern apostolic age. Education, prominence and talent, just to name a few, have taken center stage as the standard for leadership. God help every leader of the church to reconsider and revisit the God Factor. May we all who have accepted this high and holy calling to allow HIM to be Lord over who HE calls, who HE anoints, and who HE chooses to elevate to lead HIS church! Help us all as leaders to put the God factor back into leadership!
As God called, God anointed leaders, we have been trusted with the God factor, to act on HIS behalf, as stewards of HIS purpose and to serve HIS best interest. Because of this, I would like to present two final questions for your prayerful consideration.
Is it reasonable to think that if Jesus felt the need to pray all night before selecting the leadership team for HIS church, that we should do the same? Just a thought.
How different do you suppose our decision making would be if every planning or business session at any level of the church began with fervent prayer and waiting on God with no business being convened until there was an obvious release of the Holy Ghost to do so? Too idealistic you say? I don’t agree; I say let’s reach for it!
“Putting the “God Factor” Back Into Leadership”. Written by F. Joe Ellis.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”