When you finish college, it’s easy to think that success will come with the first job offer. Go to college. Get a job. Check and check. But in order to ensure one is prepared for ministry leadership, there are at least four leadership qualities to consider. Within these key aspects are some common traps to thinking you have arrived.
Let’s dive in and parse these qualities like you would the scripture for your next sermon.
If you have a degree in business or an M.Div. from seminary you are likely to believe that your educational achievement is a guarantee that you will succeed at your job, profession, or even at leadership in general.
Not so. Being qualified is a good thing, but on its own, your degree or certification is not much. You may have a teaching certificate, but that won’t guarantee your students are learning anything.
To be sure, Grace College & Theological Seminary is going to equip you with the tools to ensure you are qualified. All our professors are experts in their field and continue to find opportunities for ministry experience. Our Deploy students receive one-on-one mentorship as well as the Logos Bible Software Gold 9, theirs to keep for life.
Being qualified is key, but there are a few other factors.
Landing the Job
Now that you are qualified and have a job…maybe even the job, it seems to many that they are home free. All is well; just show up and do your best.
Not so. Landing the job is a very good thing, but it does not guarantee anything more than an opportunity. Finding opportunities within your field is the goal. We’ll help by being a connecting force on your way to successful ministry leadership.
So what could be more important than achieving these first two leadership qualities? In ministry, getting your degree and becoming a youth worker, pastor, or missionary seems to be all that is needed to assure your ministry successfully impacts people.
Not so. We’re just scratching the surface, but within the next quality is a trap.
Seasoned people find it amusing that the qualified people who have landed their first job imagine that they are well-functioning and impactful professionals.
Not so. If you show up for work with your smile pasted on and have the briefcase that your mom or spouse gave you, you are not guaranteed success. The most important thing to do is to consistently work to attain a worthy level of competence. Many people fail here, but learning from their mistakes (suddenly less impressed with their own certificate or licensure), they grow and they move on.
Within competency is a natural gift that can be disguised as a leadership quality. It’s charisma! If you were a big deal in high school, this may be you. Charisma is a way to bypass a lot of awkward relationships and credibility-building experiences on the way to the good result of people trusting and following you.
Because it is a shortcut, charisma cannot help you meet the need for a plan or a reason or a rationale. People with charisma are not famous for being able to meet such objective needs. This can have two results. One possibility is you keep moving to a new ministry as your charisma shifts from being an asset to a liability. The other possibility is you hit the wall and learn the benefits of attaining authentic and biblical leadership qualities.
If this is as far as you get, that’s pretty good. A competent person with the job is a wonder. But there is a distinction that is important when it comes to going beyond competence to impactful leadership.
Having a Burdened Heart
If you are competent AND you have a burden for your work, you are a rare wonder. Right now, you can name very few people who fit this much happier description. These are the people who do not just do their job well, they are “all in.” They talk endlessly about their passion for whatever it is they do. They want you to be excited about it too; they refuse to take second-best efforts from their co-workers or employees; they read, talk, listen. They discuss this with everyone all the time, even on vacation.
This is where the best and even godly leadership comes from. Do not stop with competence and do not envy those who rely on their charisma.
If you’re feeling the call to ministry, or you’re looking to further your leadership qualities with a master’s or doctoral program, rest assured that Grace Theological Seminary is committed to transforming the whole person for local church and global ministry. Explore our different paths and discover one that will prepare you for fruitful ministry.
John Teevan is the Adjunct Professor in the Seminary and SOMS. He has taught a variety of courses since 2000. He comes from two long pastorates and twelve years working for Grace College in the Indiana State Prison system as an educator/director. He also served in the four cities where Grace worked to open commuter sites. These diverse experiences along with community involvement have sensitized him to social side of ministering to people in a variety of situations. A five-year engagement with the Acton Institute led to the publication of his book on Social Justice.