Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 2 (by Manik Corea)

Last week, we look at the first C of Jesus-shaped Leadership – the Calling (or appointment) of God. God calls; we answer.

But answering God’s call to leadership is not enough for us to be and become the leaders God seeks. We need the next ‘C’ of Character. If calling is the chef that conjures up the meal, then character is the key ingredient that makes the dish. Leadership ultimately thrives or falters on the character of the leader.

Character has been defined as ‘the aggregate of a person’s moral qualities, demonstrated through the values, beliefs, and choices that person makes.’[1] It is the inner reality of our person as God sees us. Who we are in truth will largely determine the strength and legacy we build on and leave.

Consider the story of Alexander the Great. The epithet tagged to his name signified that he was a military strategist par excellence, a super-hero of the day. He led his armies on an 11-year military campaign, conquering most of the then known-world by the tender age of 30.

But what was he like apart from name and fame? ‘He had multiple wives, lived out a number of sexual distortions, descended into paranoia, and died, at age thirty-two, after a two-day drinking binge.’ [2]

His greatness was ultimately usurped by his weaknesses.

We live in a world that continues to hearken after the ‘Alexanders’ of our day, whose achievements and talents are at the forefront. People are too easily willing to overlook the character flaws of our leading figures (in practically any field – politics, business, sport, the entertainment industry) so long as they deliver on results and performance.

Often, what you say and do before others matters more than who you really are behind them. Performance seems to devour integrity for lunch.

But Jesus’ called an entirely different tune – “It shall not be so among you.” (Matthew 20:26a)

Character and personal integrity matter pre-eminently. This is borne out in the Scriptures. 1Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 present a list of qualities to be sought for in leaders of the church– overseers/bishops (episkopē) and deacons (diakonos). The majority of things that qualify us to leadership have to do not with ability, but with character – how we behave towards others in particular.

  1. L Moody famously said, ‘Character is what you are in the dark’. But godly character must also show up and shine bright in the glare of a watching world. (Matthew 5:16).

Leaders with integrity are in demand in the Kingdom of God. In Exodus 18:21, Jethro encouraged his son-in-law Moses to select and appoint for leadership over Israel “men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain”.

The Psalmist intoned that “David shepherded (Israel) with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.” (Psalm 78:72). This pleased God, who saw him as a man after his own heart, unlike his predecessor Saul, who though called and anointed, acted ultimately out of rebellion and spiritual pride to his own demise.

What does it take to be leaders after God’s own heart? Our character must be transformed by him.

Character can change for the better or be hardened by sin. In the long run, it reflects the cumulative effect of consistent choices and acts pursued in both the critical and ordinary moments of life. Christian character, like fruit, will need above all to be grown and developed in the soil of grace, perseverance and faith in Christ.

Jesus is ultimately not interested that his leaders simply perform well. He is interested that his leaders do the will of the Father.

We often get confused on this point. Edmund Chan, the influential Singaporean pastor, said that we think effective leadership is all a matter of skill. He said, ‘We look at how we lead. God looks at how we live.’

The difference is critical. We may falter and fall or get it wrong, but the righteous will be swift to get up and flee to Jesus.

Ultimately, Jesus-shaped leadership will show more in our character (who we truly are in relation to Him) then by achievements, awards and acclamations (what we’ve done in front of others). The question then ultimately that every true disciple-making servant leader must answer daily: ‘Is all my life being laid down today as a living sacrifice to God?’

[1] John E. Johnson Missing Voices. (Langham Partnership, 2019), 90.

[2] Thomas Martin, Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellnistic Times. (New Haven, 1996), p.197 as quoted in John E. Johnson Missing Voices. (Langham Partnership, 2019), 91.

Jesus-shaped Leaders – The 5 ‘C’s: Part 2 (by Manik Corea)

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