Here are 26 things I noted down from the FIEC Online Local Conference on Leadership and Legacy with talks from Johnny Prime on ‘A Leadership Legacy to Imitate’ from Hebrews 13:7, and from John Stevens on ‘A Leadership Legacy to Avoid’ from 1 Peter 5:1-4.
1. Hebrews contains words of exhortation designed to keep us going as disciples of the Lord Jesus.
2. Deliberately thinking about the legacy of former Christian leaders will encourage us to persevere.
3. Leadership in the church is uniquely leadership by speaking the Word of God.
4. The Word of God which leaders spoke to us is the message of salvation in the Lord Jesus that we are to put our faith in, persevere in, must not drift from, and be encouraged by. Remembering involves thinking about the significance and implications of what the leaders did – their faithfulness in speaking the Word of God in spite of the pressure around them not to.
5. Make a list of those leaders who spoke the Word of God to you. Those who pleaded with you passionately to trust in the Lord Jesus and follow Him wholeheartedly.
6. Consider means looking at what they taught and how they lived. Consider those who were completers – running with perseverance the race marked out for them, throwing off sins that so easily entangle, fixing their eyes on Jesus.
7. We are to persevere by faith not by sight. But we benefit from and are inspired by real life examples of those who persevered by faith.
8. You are impoverished if you don’t read biographies, especially of those like Robert Murray M’Cheyne.
9. Imitating leaders does not mean idolising them or putting them on a pedestal or doing everything they did like they did. All Christians leaders have flaws. It is their faith in Jesus and hope in Him that we are to imitate.
10. Human leaders are always replaced; Jesus is never replaced. Pastors are only temporary; Jesus is always Head of the church.
11. We are legacy receivers and also legacy givers.
12. Leaders who didn’t persevere are examples to avoid and not follow. Yet we can remember what they taught us about Jesus and remember that it is faith in Him not the leaders that keeps us going.
13. The Bible warns against the danger of abuse in ministry. It is vital that this warning is heeded because leaders 1) are given authority over the church; 2) minister to vulnerable people in the congregation; and 3) have experience and theological understanding that can impress or intimidate younger Christians.
14. Abuse happens because of the reality of sin.
15. In Christian ministry there are false pastors who deliberately set out to abuse and there are fallen pastors who don’t fight sin and give into the temptation to abuse.
16. Culture is challenging us to recognise abuse in pastoral ministry. Culture wants to expose, punish, and prevent abuse. It is essential that every church has a safeguarding policy in place.
17. Covering abuse up prioritises the reputation of the church over care for victims.
18. Spiritual abuse describes something the Bible condemns – the misuse of power in pastoral office or in the language of 1 Peter 5, lording it over others. Examples of this include exercising coercive control over others; bullying; offering friendship and closeness and threatening to withdraw it if don’t comply; strong control over congregation’s lives – where live, who marry, whether they should go into ministry; adopting absolute insistence on issues not laid down in Scripture e.g. home-schooling, dress code for church, dating rules; believing they are above contradiction; not allowing people to disagree or reject counsel. In the past this would have been called heavy shepherding.
19. Ordinary Biblical counselling is not spiritual abuse.
20. We need to guard against abuse. This will involve guarding our hearts (fighting sin fiercely, scrutinising our motives, following Jesus’ example), guarding our teaching (abusive teaching makes wisdom and opinion the word of God, making our opinions law for their lives), guarding our practices (in personal discipleship of others meet in public places at sensible times for limited duration; share pastoral care with others). If we recognise the tendency in our lives, we must get help.
21. Take abuse of all kinds seriously. It damages churches, dishonours Christ, and harms victims.
22. Pastors need other leaders to whom they will submit to. The danger is that we read Hebrews 13:17 and think that it does not apply to us. It is an instruction to all believers. I need to submit to my fellow leaders in the church.
23. “Omissions make way for commissions.” I am most in danger of doing what God calls me not to do, when I fail to positively obey what God calls me to do.
24. If we don’t actively obey 2 Timothy 2:2 we are in danger of saying it is all about me.
25. None of us are sufficient for the task but we have a God who equips (Hebrews 13:20-21). Our God is an expert in making us fit to do all He calls us to do.
26. How can we leave a right legacy to pass onto the next generation? Only as He equips us to.