by Chris Tenneriello
GRAND BLANC, MI – As I reflect upon my first pastorate, I remember how uncertain I was as a leader of a local congregation. I had learned many principles of leadership in seminary, but learning principles about leadership and being a leader, I found, were two different things. The principles of leadership are easy to know, being a leader, however, has taken me 30+ years to learn.
Over those years of ministry I have learned 3 key leadership principles that have sustained me over the years of ministry in a local church. The first principle I learned was that to be a good leader I had to be a dedicated follower of Jesus. My life in Christ is the foundation for my abilities to lead a local congregation.
I learned to nourish my soul as I worshipped Jesus daily by spending time with Him in His Word. Over the years in ministry, I cannot total the number of hours I have spent in study to teach His Word to others. But my quiet time with Him, when He was shaping me, made me both the man that I am and the leader He wanted me to be.
Another key leadership principle I learned was that I had to be a man of integrity. My heart had to be completely devoted to Jesus. In the Old Testament book of Kings, integrity was described as having a “whole heart” for the LORD. In the New Testament integrity could be described as character traits that should reveal the life of Jesus in those who follow Him.
In various lists in the New Testament that delineate leadership, character traits are repeatedly mentioned. One such list is found in 1 Timothy 3 “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” I recognized early in my life as a follower of Jesus that character does matter. Who I am, preceded what I know. To be a shepherd for God was to be a man of God.
A final leadership principle I learned was the ability to say NO — to myself. Jesus clearly stated that …“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” I learned that delayed gratification is a necessary characteristic of a leader. If I could not say no to myself, then I would conflate my will with His. As a servant of my Lord, I had to be committed to do His will. The Lord expects nothing less. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
I can never think that I have a better way to build His church. I must always be mindful that I follow an ancient way that the Lord has used to build His church and I have been entrusted to adhere to that way as long as my ministry lasts.
While I could continue to list more leadership principles that I have learned over my years of ministry, those three were and continue to be foundational for me. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Tenneriello is an Elder at Bethany Baptist Church, Grand Blanc MI. He is also a Certified Leader for the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development.