As a big fan of Major League Baseball and Christianity, I like to keep my ears open to hearing of Christian ballplayers. It’s not that their statistics are going to be any different or that they run faster or slower. I watch them to see how they live.
I remember Andy Van Slyke, a Christ-following player for the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, saying years ago, “I won’t renegotiate my contract because I believe in the principle of sticking to my contract and what I agreed upon as the Parable of the Worker states in Matthew 20.” Wow! That is powerful because it is so full of character and commitment and is so counter-cultural.
What about managers, owners, coaches, parents, etc.? What makes a leader a Christian leader?
Six topics come to mind for me. Maybe you’ll add a couple of your own.
Now, realize that I am not saying Christ-following leaders are perfect or exhibit each of these qualities all of the time. Not at all. I certainly don’t. I am also not claiming that people who say they are a Christian or that they go to church exhibit these characteristics, either. There are many Christ-following imposters in our world.
What I am saying is that I have seen true, regenerated, transformed Christ-followers exhibit these characteristics on a much more regular basis than those living apart from Christ. See if you agree.
Six characteristics of a Christ-following leader:
- Character – Christian leaders recognize and realize that character is who they are when no one is looking. Christ-following leaders realize that character defines them. As Proverbs 28:6 says, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”
- Prayer – Christ-following leaders are praying people. They pray for those they lead, for wisdom, for protection, for gratitude, for God’s praise and so on. As a result, leaders look at and interact with the people they lead differently because they really care for their well-being and not just their productivity.
- Fruit – Galatians 5 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Christian leaders should be exhibiting the fruit of their relationship with God through their leadership.
- Forgiveness – It is so easy to point fingers and to break down people that we lead. We break our kids, our employees or our competitors. Leaders who have experienced the grace and forgiveness of God should be the types of leaders who are quick to extend grace and forgiveness. This doesn’t make them “soft.” It makes them loving and Godly.
- Priorities – The win in sports and the dollar in business seem to drive everything at times. Everyone has a price is the old adage. Christ-following leaders should be able to distinguish the right priorities in their leadership. As my Christian college baseball coach would tell us, “Make sure you have your 4 G priorities right: God, Grades, Games and Girls.” Not a bad order for a college baseball player, though my wife wouldn’t be too thrilled with that priority list today.
- Mission – Christ-following leaders recognize that they are on mission from God. Part of that mission is being a servant-leader that excels at whatever they are called to as their work. Another part of the mission is allowing their relationship with Christ come out in their conversations, words and deeds. Christian leaders don’t hide their relationship with God under a bowl, they use it as a light to their path.
Again, I am not saying that I have all of these down perfect or that all or even most Christian leaders have these nailed. What I am saying is that the Christ-following leaders I know who are working hard to live their lives in a way that glorifies God are leading more often than not with these characteristics.
How is your leadership living up to this list?
Live well. Lead well.
Eric Rojas loves his role as the executive pastor of Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL, where he oversees a staff of 120 and serves alongside Senior Pastor Jim Nicodem. He has been on staff at CCC since 2000. During his 20+ years of ministry, Rojas has served in churches as a youth pastor, adult ministries pastor, small groups pastor, associate pastor, worship pastor and men’s pastor. He is a contributing author for Group Publishing’s Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century and has written for various magazines and websites. Rojas also serves the church-at-large through consulting and seminar presenting. He has been married to his wife, Rachel, for 22 years. They have 3 children — Luke, 21; Adam, 19; and Chloe, 17. A man of faith, Rojas believes that next year is the year the Cubs will finally win the World.