Biblical Examples of Team Leadership

Gone are the days when a senior pastor is looked at as the “one man show.” There are some churches still operating in that system and the senior pastor does everything, but most of those churches are not growing and the senior pastor is left with the weight of the ministry on his shoulders.

Today churches are embracing a much-needed philosophical change of ministry called team leadership. Churches are embracing leadership models that are defined by words such as “team” and “teamwork.” In his book, Advanced Strategic Planning, Aubrey Malphurs says, “Excellent leaders understand that they can accomplish far more through the wisdom of a gifted and committed strategic team of staff and lay leaders.” The pastor is no longer the “one man show,” but is the lead pastors among other gifted and well-trained leaders.

Some Christians and church goers don’t like this model because it may seem to “corporate” or like a “business” model. But before you make that assumption and write off churches that operate with this team leadership philosophy, take a look at some examples of this team leadership in Scripture. Yes, this idea of team leadership is clearly seen in Scripture.

Moses took the advice of Jethro and formed a team to work with him (Exodus 18:24-26). Jethro saw that Moses couldn’t handle his wilderness ministry on his own. He needed help and he needed a team. You can read about the situation Moses was in and the advice of Jethro in verses 1-23. Moses followed Jethro’s advice and formed a team of able men to help him carry the load of his ministry.

Jesus recruited a team of disciples to be with Him and minister alongside Him (Mark 3:13-14). The fact that Jesus operated with a team leadership philosophy should be enough to motivate you to do the same! In Mark 3:13-14 we see Jesus chose twelve men He could be with and could send out to do His ministry.

Paul understood the significance of a team as he led and ministered through numerous teams (Acts 11:22-30). As you read this passage in Acts, and many other passages as well, it is evident that Paul understood the effectiveness of doing ministry as a team. Because he equipped other leaders to share the load of ministry, he was able to reach more people with the Gospel and minister to many more churches than he could have if he was in it alone.

Please don’t dismiss team leadership because the church has neglected it for so long. This idea if seen in the pages of Scripture. Churches can do more with they are led by a gifted team of staff and lay leaders. God wants to do great things through us and we can accomplish more for His Kingdom if we operate as a team.

Most of the content in this post came from Aubrey Malphurs book “Advanced Strategic Planning.” I would encourage you to check out this book and get a better understanding of team leadership, particularly about how to strategically plan as a team.

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The Hardest Person to Lead

In leadership, the hardest person to lead is not other people, but it is ourselves. We can see that even Paul faced the frustration of trying to lead himself well. In Romans 7:15, Paul says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Even though Paul faced the struggle of trying to lead himself well, he knew the importance of leading himself well and what was at stake if he did not. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” We too, need to understand the importance of leading ourselves well and realizing what is at stake if we do not.

Personal commitments determine the direction I lead myself. The direction I lead myself determines how I lead others.

From the statement above, we see that personal commitments is the starting place of leading ourselves well. The results of leading ourselves well is being able to lead others well. In order to lead yourself well, you must be committed to six things:

1. Commitment to love Christ supremely (Matthew 22:37). In Christian leadership, it’s easy to fall in love with the work of Christ more than the person of Christ. We must make sure we love Christ more than everything, even ministry! Our commitment to love Christ supremely is the foundation and driving force to all other commitments. Without it we become legalistic.

2. Commitment to unwavering integrity (Proverbs 10:9). Is there an area of your life, if brought into light, would damage your testimony? In his book, Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs says that people don’t follow ministry’s mission or vision statement for very long, they follow you. Personal integrity is the foundation to leadership.

3. Commitment to live a disciplined life (Proverbs 6:6-9). One of the most neglected areas of many Christians life’s, especially Christian leaders, is physical discipline. We focus so much time on”spiritual disciplines,” which are important, we neglect physical discipline. We don’t take care of ourselves physically the way we should. We must commit to spiritual disciplines and physical disciplines.

4. Commitment to having a teachable spirit (Proverbs 19:20). Part of leading yourself well is being able to stay teachable. Once a leader a leader stops learning and growing, their leadership will level out. Leaders must intentionally seek Godly counsel, surround themselves with leaders who are better than them in certain areas, respond graciously to criticism, and read good books.

5. Commitment to personal accountability (Proverbs 27:17). You cannot lead yourself well alone. You cannot remain focused spiritually alone. You cannot live a holy life alone. You need accountability in your life! Who in your life asks you the “hard question”” or will tell you the honest truth? Awhile back, I wrote a post called “How Leaders Can Prevent Moral Failure BEFORE it Happens” and in that post I said one of the best ways to prevent moral failure in leadership is to have accountability in your life. The leader who does not have accountability in their life is asking for the enemy and their flesh to destroy their leadership position.

6. Commitment to push outside of your comfort zone (Matthew 14:29). Often, leaders tend to settle. Leaders must have a God-sized dream for their ministry or organization. A good question to ask yourself to see if you have a God-sized dream or not is this: Do you have it all figured out, or does your dream push you to your knees in prayer?

It’s important leaders take these commitments serious. Until leaders learn how to lead themselves well, they will always struggle at leading others well.

I do not take credit for the majority of these thoughts. Majority of this post comes from a workshop lead by Chris Finchum at a recent Word of Life Associate School Conference. You can find Chris on Twitter @chrisfinchum.