The 4C’s of Christian Leadership

Try googling “Christian leadership” and you’ll be inundated with over 10 million hits. Numerous Christian conferences have raised and attempted to answer the perennial question “What is Christian Leadership?” During this robust discussion, concepts of qualities, characteristics, capabilities and behaviors were addressed; however, a definitive answer never seemed to emerge in the end. Bruce Winston, professor at Regent University, provides a framework that emerged throughout a 10-hour automobile drive where the answer of this question began to emerge. His spouse stated her observation that some character-flawed old testament leaders seemed to be blessed by God and that didn’t seem to fit the general notion that “good” leaders are high-character leaders.

The four key elements of Christian leadership follows the sequences (aka 4Cs):

Calling – doing the willing of God

Competence – doing what you do well

Confidence – knowing what you can do by yourself and what you can do with God’s help

Character – living a life according to Old Testament and New Testament character values
The underlying of the framework is that with each successful level of the four Cs, greater success happens.

Jesus’s words in John 5:30 makes a profound statement “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As a I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” The word “will” is translated as qelema (Thelema) that implies what God wishes or commands.  The same word occurs eight times in the Gospel of John.

If Jesus have proclaimed in different context that his primary role is to do the will of God, then it seems logical that as a Christian leader it is our primary responsibility to comply to God’s will. In terms of how one discovers the will of God is not clear from the verses. 1 Samuel 3:1-10 gives us insight into how one might know the will of God in which we find God calling Samuel. He thought Eli called him but learned later that it was God who was calling him instead. Dr. Winston notes that “calling is something that comes from God and is not something that one can be educated/trained to receive.”

God has endowed us with unique set of God-given talents, strengths, and potential. While knowing and acting on your calling without competence can still lead to success – calling with competence can lead to greater success.

There are numerous supporting verses in the Old Testament that support a need for competence. In Genesis 47:6, we find a call for capable men.

“The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among then, then put them in charge of my livestock.

Exodus 35:25 also talks of “skilled” workers who were selected to make elements for the test of meeting. It is interesting that the preceding verses denote that these people’s hearts were stirred by God (called).

Exodus 35:21: Everyone whose heartstirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’Scontribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.

Exodus 35:25: All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen.

In 1 Kings 7:4 also talks of how Hiram’s employment by King Solomon originated from his wisdom and understanding as well his skill (competence in craft): He was a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.

Most famously, in Proverbs 22:29 – we realize there is compelling evidence for a need in competence.

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

Calling and competence are fundamental building block for success, however, with a paucity of confidence the leader fails to maximize his/ her potential. Confidence in this context can be viewed on a similar vein as self-efficacy in that people perceive their ability to do or not do something. The focus here is on self-perception rather than reality.

A great example where we see this play out is the account of Elijah’s confrontation with Baal’s priests and then Elijah’s subsequent confrontation with Jezebel. Imagine the scene of Elijah challenging the priests to a contest in which the priests of Baal would invoke their god to send fire down and light the sacrificial fire. After the priests failed, Elijah took his turn and increased the difficulty by soaking the wood and offering with water. Being filled with absolute confidence, Elijah prayed and the God sent His fire which not only consumed the wood but the entire altar.

1 Kings 18:38: Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

Consequently, Elijah decimated the 450 prophets of Baal. This implies the calling, competence, and confidence. However, ensuing his success, we learn that Jezebel is ferocious and seeks his demise. Here we see Eljiah’s lack of confidence where he is ready to give up.  Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”

We see another example in Matthew 14:28-31 from the account of Peter asking Jesus to let Peter walk on the water.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

From this exchange, Dr. Winston makes a discerning observation that we can see that calling without competence (presumed that Peter did not get trained in walking on water) but with confidence can lead to success, but that calling without confidence (“little faith” leads to failure).

The prior elements of calling, competence, and confidence are foundational elements of leadership. One defining element that makes Christian leadership unique in its core is character. Though Character is the last C is the Bible has a plethora of supporting verses. However, when we look at Moses who killed the Egyptian, Abraham who presented his wife as his sister to the King, and David who committed adultery, character is not the determinant for success. Nonetheless, the righteous behaviors are the outgrowth of character.

Psalm 1 provides us the perspective of the upright leader who through his/her beliefs, demonstrates characteristics in synch with biblical principles. The passage below shows that a ‘blessed’ leader does not interact with the wicked nor participate with evil people.Psalms 1:1-6: How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

1 Timothy 3 provides us with the traits and characteristics of a good leader or overseer as Timothy states.

1 Timothy 3:2-7: An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Dr. Winston makes noteworthy commentary on these verses:

From verses 2-7 we can see that a good leader must demonstrate integrity. What we translate as reproach is anepileptoß (anepileptos) that means to be caught or arrested. The intent here is not to do what is wrong and not get caught, but rather to do nothing that might lead to getting caught. In other words, live your life in such a manner that no matter how finely your life is scrutinized, you will not be found “in reproach.” In addition, in the passage, we see that a leader must be temperate nefaleoß (nephaleos), meaning to remain sober and not under the influence of alcohol; prudent sofron (sophron), meaning to curb one’s desires; respectable kosmioß (kosmios), meaning to be modest; and hospitable filoxenoß (philoxenos), meaning to be generous to guests. In addition, the passage says that leaders should not be pugnacious plekteß (plektes), meaning to not be quarrelsome, which is similar to the beatitude “to be meek.” In support of this requirement to not be pugnacious is the requirement to be gentle and peaceable. The passage concludes by indicating that the leader must be seen in a positive light by people outside of the organization. In Titus 1 we see a recasting of some of the character elements from 1Timothy 3.

Titus 1:5-6: For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict

“James helps us understand the character of a leader by admonishing us to listen well, react in a controlled manner, similar to what the beatitude “blessed are the meek” calls for, to be humble, which is akin to the beatitude “blessed are the poor in spirit,” to be active rather than passive, and controlled in his speech.”

James 1:19-27: This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. 
What qualities do you believe make up Christian leadership?