Character Traits of a Christian Leader
Part 1: Integrity
Engineering a Life of Integrity
- NOTE: It is possible for someone to be a person of integrity and not be a leader, but it is impossible for a person to be an effective and long-term leader and not be a person of integrity.
- NOTE: When I speak of “Christian Leader” I am not only speaking of people in full-time Christian service; I am speaking of any Christian that holds a position of responsibility. In other words, it would be impossible for a Christian to live a God-pleasing and God-honoring life and not be a “Christian ________” (you fill in the blank).
Integrity = A life built on the Word of God and held together by making decisions based on the principles taught in God’s Word. In other words, integrity is “living Biblically” or put another “living wisely”.
- A leader’s commitment to “living Biblically” will be so strong that they immerse themselves into the reading, study and assimilation of the Scriptures to the point that living a life of integrity is not a decision but a habit (the natural overflow/response of their life).
Thoughts and principles:
1. Integrity has to do with interconnectedness.
- For example, if a bridge is to have “integrity” (able to fulfill its function) then all the different parts of the bridge must be in synch with each other.
- The same is true in the life of a Christian leader. He or she must “practice what they preach” at home, at work and at play. There must be a consistency in their lives. This consistency must become so ingrained in that leader that it is done “thoughtlessly”. In other words, integrity is not something we do, it is something we are.
2. Integrity has to do with a pre-determined standard of truth (standard operational procedures).
- For example, building a bridge is not something you do on the fly or as you go. There are predetermined laws of physics and engineering that must be learned and then applied in order for a bridge to have the interconnectedness (integrity) to handle the pressure and weight of human traffic.
- Our society tries to operate on the principle of relativism, i.e. there are no absolutes (except for the absolute that there are no absolutes).
- This is a recipe for disaster! If every situation has a different set of rules or responses the leader and the followers both are in a constant state of flux wondering if the “bridge” is going to hold up when they put their weight on it.
- The Christian leader does not have that “luxury”. The Christian leader has a divine pre-determined standard of truth (SOP / How do you like that JonathanJ) that allows for predictability and steadfastness. This divine pre-determined standard of truth is the Holy Scriptures.
- It is here that I must offer a strong warning. It is not enough to be a leader that is a person of strong integrity. If our integrity is not grounded in “divine pre-determined truth” (the Holy Scriptures) we can be like a compass that has a magnet near it. The magnet will cause a compass to malfunction by disturbing the magnetic field of the compass. So though the compass is pointing due north like always, in reality the compass would lead you wrong.
- A horrifying example of this is Adolf Otto Eichmann. He was one of the Nazi masterminds of “the Final Solution” and was directly responsible for the murder of millions of Jews, Gypsies and other “undesirables”. In referring to a time that he was called upon to take his superior’s place in running the entire extermination of millions of innocent humans beings, he made the statement that he was honored to follow in his superior’s footsteps.
- Normally you would equate a strong work ethic and loyalty with coming from a man of integrity. But the chilling truth is that integrity that is not anchored to the Divine can a deceived integrity. Like a compass gone awry, we can lose our bearing and be like the blind Pharisees leading the blind that Jesus described (Matthew 15:14)
3. Therefore, integrity requires continual growth in understanding the Word of God and constantly measuring every decision by the Word.
- The most frequent words from our lips must be, “What does the Bible say about this issue?”
- As leaders of the FMCOG we must be the most passionate people in our church about reading, studying and assimilating the Bible into our lives.
- As leaders of the FMCOG we must lead our church in Bible reading. A church member that is more passionate about the Bible and that reads the Bible more than us should be a rare anomaly.
- We are not Christian leaders of integrity if this is not the case.
4. Suggested Bible Reading:
- Three chapters daily from the New Testament (you will read the N.T. through four times a year)
- Three chapters daily from the Old Testament (you will read the O.T. through each year)
- In addition, read the Proverbs chapter of the day, a short sections of the Gospels (I suggest reading John’s Gospel over and over), and a short section from the Pastoral Epistles (1/2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon) which were written specifically to full-time Christian leaders.
In conclusion, being a leader of integrity means that we are not passive about our character. Just as a bridge that has the integrity to accommodate massive amounts of pressure and human traffic did not happen by accident, so to the Christian leader will not be a leader of integrity by accident. We must be engineers of our integrity.
If we are going to be able to accommodate the massive pressures of serving a large congregation like the FMCOG we must be leaders of integrity who live biblically and make wise decisions.
It is a privilege to serve God’s people in a full-time position and our people deserve our best. I know that you share this sentiment and I know from working with you these many years that you already are men and women of deep integrity. All I ask of you (beginning with myself), using the words of the Apostle Paul to the believers at Thessalonica:
- 1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-2)
Bottom line, I count it a privilege to work with such a great team of integrity like you. I don’t just go to work to work, I go to be with friends that I love and care for very much. I believe we have a great year ahead and I believe that we have the integrity to bear up under the pressure of the Mission that our Lord has given us and I believe that our lives and example will be a bridge that allows our people to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)
david l. kemp
January 3, 2012 / First Staff meeting of the year