Many types of church leaders span generations. The ones most are familiar with are either the overtly pious leader spewing sermons on hellfire, or a church leader who preaches only what people want to hear. Each of these options is problematic for obvious reasons, the most important is that their congregation is not getting an accurate, comprehensive, or even convicting view of what it means to live according to their religion. In short, one’s faith is not easy. It is challenging, sometimes harsh and offensive, but it is also uplifting and a foundation of faith.
A quality church leader should reflect these real but uncomfortable traits, allowing their congregations to know they’ve got a leader worth listening to. The following five characteristics are those that make up a quality church leader who not only guides their congregation well but goes above and beyond the call of duty and responsibility.
Look for These 5 Characteristics in Your Church Leader
A quality church leader should have many good qualities about them, but the following five characteristics help identify not only a quality church leader, but one that goes above and beyond.
1. They Are Inclusive
One major fault of the modern Church is that many find it to be incredibly exclusive. Whether this is true of the church or not, certain groups and demographics feel mostly shunned and unwelcome by religious organizations. A quality church leader will make it known that all people are welcome in the church no matter what they look like, believe, practice, or how they live. All people are worthy of receiving love and grace, and a quality leader will reflect this.
2. They Talk About What’s Uncomfortable
Many people feel as if they cannot bring the “underside” of life to the church. Topics like racism, sexuality, identity, abuse, doubt, and other difficult issues are expected to be glossed over, but a quality church leader will not do this. These are the topics the church most needs to illuminate, and a quality church leader is one that will welcome open dialogue about the “shadowy” areas of life. This is the best way to offer healing and reconciliation, and a quality pastor will recognize this.
3. They Are Accessible
If a church leader is only ever seen on Sunday mornings or at the head of important church meetings, chances are they are not actually a quality church leader. Instead, an excellent church leader is one who is accessible to anyone who has need of them. If a church goer needs prayer, to talk, advice, or wants to tell the pastor a story or testimony, the church leader should be there to engage with them. This is not to say that church leaders are not allowed to have down time and rest, but a quality church leader will find balance between their own rest and meeting the needs of their congregation.
4. They Speak the Truth
A church leader who simply teaches the sweet, easy, and pleasing parts of the Bible or other religious text are likely not giving their congregation the entire story. Many people only listen to what they want to hear, and if a church leader is only preaching what they know people want to hear, they are actually doing them a grave disservice. In short, a quality church leader must tell the truth even when it is hard, uncomfortable, or downright devastating. Preaching one side of the coin is not efficient, and a quality church leader understands this even if it means losing members, receiving harsh emails, or other (inevitable) backlash.
5. They Encourage Diversity
If you find yourself in a church where everyone looks like you and thinks like you, chances are you are a poor church leader. A quality church leader will encourage diversity in their church, making a point to include all walks of life to hear the good news they are preaching. A quality church should consist of all races, ages, political views, and schools of thought in order to help others learn and encourage tolerance and understanding. It may not be the most comfortable setting at times, but a quality church leader understands that diversity is important because it reflects this world.
A quality church leader is one who embodies each of these five characteristics and more. They understand the importance of going to the uncomfortable places in life and preaching the truth that goes along with them. They may not always be the most popular, but a quality church leader knows that truth and honesty far outweigh popularity.