During my time as an officer in the United States Army, our leaders emphasized our need to display confident leadership in front of our soldiers. They taught us that there might be times when we are unsure of an answer or a particular direction; however, we must not let our soldiers see hesitation or insecurity in our leadership. Such lack of confidence displayed by an officer has the potential of killing morale in a unit.
A leader who lacks confidence can also hurt the church. Church members need leaders who are confident in the direction they believe the church or their ministry areas should be going. They should sense a spirit of optimism and expectancy from their leaders.
How can church leaders display confidence in their leadership without succumbing to pride or self-reliance? Here are three tips for developing confident leadership as a church leader.
It’s imperative that church leaders remember that they can do nothing apart from God. He is their sole sufficiency and source of life, strength, and wisdom as leaders. Church leaders are totally dependent upon God and should approach their leadership by acknowledging that reality. Speaking of the power and work of Christ, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV) We are totally dependent upon God for our lives and our leadership in the church.
Seeing God’s creative and sustaining power, leaders can have confidence in His ability to work His will in our lives and the lives of our church members. God is sovereign and omnipotent. There is nothing that he cannot do. Regarding God’s ability and our inability, Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26b ESV) Nothing is impossible with God. Our confidence as leaders is not in ourselves but in Him, not in our ability but in His.
Church leaders can be confident when they share their leadership with other mature Christian leaders who seek God’s will for the church. The Apostle Paul reminds us in several of his letters that we are part of the body of Christ and are meant to live life and advance the gospel together. (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Philippians 1:27-30) The writer of Proverbs advises, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22 ESV)
God places each person in the church for a purpose. Each leader makes a valuable contribution to developing and implementing the various strategies the church utilizes to advance the gospel and the Kingdom of Christ. Wise leaders will share their leadership. They share their decision-making processes. In so doing, they can have more confidence in the direction they take the church because multiple mature Christ-followers contributed to the leadership plan.
The church in the book of Acts gives the secret to the rapid multiplication of the early church–prayer. Luke described their actions, “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31 ESV) Prayer made the members of the early church bold evangelists.
In addition to needing boldness in evangelism, leaders in the church also need wisdom for making decisions. We are not left without answers or a source for this wisdom. In his letter to the church, James gave us a powerful promise as leaders, stating, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV) Notice that this statement is a promise from God to grant us wisdom when we seek it. This promise should comfort us and grant us confidence as we lead.
So our confidence is not in ourselves but in God. Because we share the decision-making and implementation processes with other leaders, we can have confidence that the body of Christ is seeking God’s direction for the church. Finally, we pray for God’s power and wisdom, knowing He will give us both because He promises them. So, we can lead with confidence, when our confidence is in God.
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Tim is the Director of the Global Center for Youth Ministry and Associate Professor for Youth Ministry & Missions at Anderson University. He is lead pastor/planter of Mosaic Church of Anderson. Tim is also the author of Engaging Generation Z (Kregel Academic), No Better Gospel (Seeds Publishing Group), and the author and editor of Navigating Student Ministry (B&H Academic). His comments do not reflect the views of his employers and are his own personal views on various subjects.