Should Church Ministers be Leaders or Servants?

I was completing an online form for an insurance quote recently and I was asked to pick a category that best described my job. The sorts of options were things like Professional, Manager (senior), technician, clerical, sales, engineer etc.

In that moment, I was reminded how hard it is to categorize my job as a Baptist Minister.

I’m theologically trained and I am also accredited by the Baptist Union and so that must mean I am (allegedly anyway!) a professional.

I lead a church and so I am a manager or a leader.

It’s not unusual (although thankfully it’s not frequent) for me to hoover the church or to do photocopying, so I’m a servant.

I believe in the Priesthood of all believers (that every Christian can hear and be led by God) and so at times I am being led by others in the church.

I believe that Church Ministers are called to provide vision and to lead but that we are also called to serve.

Some Ministers make me cringe as I hear them talk about their vision which they are going to impose on their congregations. Their plan for the church is like a straight jacket that they are wrestling their church into so that God’s people can do nothing else but follow the Minister’s grand plan.

Some Ministers make me cringe because all they seem to say is ‘what would you like me to do’. They come as caretakers to churches expecting just to serve, clean and pick up the pieces in practical, emotional and spiritual ways.

I believe that God wants us to minister in the midway point between these two extremes.

There needs to be vision and leadership but that is usually exercised in consultation with the congregation rather than imposed on it externally.

Ministers needs to have servant hearts but we are also called to make disciples rather than running around doing everything for everyone.

Which of the two do you lean towards? Are you more naturally a leader or a servant?

Now take a few moments to look at your diary and how you spend your time. Are you acting like a leader or a servant or a healthy balance between the two?

If we want to minister in God’s church effectively we need to find that balance place where we do both, that we minister to the church as servants and leaders.

About honestaboutmyfaith

Hi, my name is Graeme and I’m married to a very patient wife. We have 4 children, 2 rabbits, a terrapin (and not a lot of peace and quiet!). I’m a Regional Minister for the Eastern Baptist Association in the UK (the views expressed in this blog are my own) and I am especially interested in making Church accessible to people who have no church background and also in how we disciple people in order to equip them to live out their faith in the 21st Century.
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3 Responses to Should Church Ministers be Leaders or Servants?

  1. ianchisnall says:

    I think the headline here is something of a false dichotomy, even within in business the call for those who lead to do so in a servant like way is very evident. Perhaps a more accurate comparison is between directing and leading.


    • I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we need to get a balance between different elements of what good leadership is eg visionary, serving, directing, caring etc.


      • ianchisnall says:

        I understand that and it is of course a valid issue, but the risk is that we end up with a polarised view of both servanthood and leadership when they are not necessarily the opposite ends of the spectrum.


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