We’ve all heard the popular phrase that leaders are born, not made. While I’m not going to argue whether or not that statement is true or not, I will contend that faithful leaders are made not born.
The reality is that our region needs faithful leaders more than ever before.
Each and every one of us stands on the shoulders of faithful men and women of God. We’d know some of their names, but the vast majority of these faithful leaders are nameless. Single mothers who prayed daily. Fathers who would awaken before dawn to meet with the Lord. Youth group volunteers who were regularly inconvenienced on our behalf. Grandmothers who never missed a prayer meeting. Sunday school teachers who opened up the word of God week in and week out. Pastors who faithfully preached the gospel, discipled new believers and ministered to broken families, addicts, orphans, and widows. The list could go on.
South Florida — this beautiful yet broken place we all call home is known for fame, yet the story of the church in South Florida has been built and is sustained by the work of faithful leaders – not famous leaders. Yet Faithfulness is so counter to what our culture clamors for in leaders – especially in South Florida.
Front stage gifting versus backstage character
Let’s be honest for a second. If you’re anything like me, you’ve often associated the word faithful with that pastor or ministry leader you know who has been going for 30 years, plugging along week in and week out, yet doesn’t seem successful by many of the measures we use to determine success.
I think it’s fair to say that we living in a time and age where a leader’s front stage giftedness is celebrated far beyond their backstage realities of character, humility, integrity and fruits of the spirit that are only cultivated through a lifestyle of daily communing with the Lord. In our region we’ve painfully experienced what can result when a pastor’s frontstage gifting is elevated and celebrated beyond that of their backstage character. It’s caused tremendous pain in the life and prophetic witness of the broader church.
What we need is a renewed emphasis and reorientation back to the cultivation and celebration of humbly following the Lord, reading his word, and spending time in prayer – getting back to the basics of what it means and looks like to follow Jesus. When I asked half a dozen national Church leaders how they would define a faithful leader, the theme across every single one of their answers was that a successful leader is often confused with a faithful leader and that a faithful leader is almost never considered successful in the eyes of the world and much of the modern church.
Becoming more like Christ
Faithfull leadership is more concerned about character than charisma. A faithful leader’s definition of success is not measured by butts in seats, followers on social media, speaking engagements, book contracts, budget numbers or buildings. A faithful leader defines success by asking the question: am I and those under my influence becoming more Christlike? Am I known more for the fruits of God’s spirit in my life than my charm, whit, intellect, charisma, preaching ability and drive for success?
Faithful leaders win people with Christ, the aroma and demonstration of his love and the external, fruitful evidence of sanctification. Nothing more. When the emphasis of our ministries is placed on external giftedness rather than cultivated, inward realities of Godly character, the results in the end are always faithlessness rather than faithfulness.
A reorientation of our hearts
The transformation of South Florida begins with the daily transformation and reorientation of our hearts and minds towards Christ. We can have the most talented staff, the most resourced churches, the latest and greatest technology and outreach ideas, yet if you and I, leaders and followers of Christ in this region trade faithfulness at the altar of metrics, we’ll have nothing more than flash in the pan success rather than sustained transformation.
Faithful leaders are forged through the choices made in the midst of pain, brokenness, temptation and despair. Faithful leaders are made, not born. Faithful leaders are made new in God’s mercy and grace each and every morning.
Edwin Copeland serves as the Director of Church United with the National Christian Foundation of South Florida where he works to unify the Church through collaboration and celebration to see faith, hope, and love spread throughout South Florida. To learn more about Church United, visit churchunited.city For more articles by Edwin Copeland, visit goodnewsfl.org/author/edwincopeland/