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Why Be A Leader?, by J. J. Turner

    A preacher met with a group of men in the congregation for the express purpose of motivating them to attend an upcoming leadership class. During the question and answer period, a man asked, “Why should I want to be a leader?”

    This is a very good question and deserves an answer. I have an idea that many men are asking or thinking it. I am persuaded that when men have it properly answered, they will be motivated to become leaders. There must be a valid reason for attempting the demanding responsibilities of leadership.

    To the group that asks or thinks the above question, we need to add another attitude, the attitude expressed by this statement: “I am not a leader—I am a follower.” This attitude is keeping several good men on the sidelines; they will not involve themselves in leadership on any level.

    How do we motivate these men? Again, I think if they could really see and understand the “whys” of leadership, they would be more inclined to accept leadership responsibility.

Some Negative Reasons

    Before we look at the positive reasons for being a leader, it would be appropriate to notice some reasons why a man should not lead or want to be a leader.

  1. He shouldn’t lead because he wants to issue orders. Such an attitude will lead to constant conflict with followers. Leadership is more than issuing orders.

  2. He shouldn’t lead because he wants to be a “dictator.” This is out of harmony with being Christ-like. Such leadership sparks rebellion.

  3. He shouldn’t lead because there wasn’t anyone else for the job or position. A brother once told me that he became an elder only because another man was needed to meet a certain quota. This is wrong! Leaders should lead because they want to lead. This is why, for example, the first qualification of an elder is a desire to lead (1 Tim. 3:1).

  4. He shouldn’t lead for personal gain. Some “work” their way into leadership positions for business purposes or other ulterior reasons. This approach is soon spotted and tagged for what it is—wrong!

  5. He shouldn’t lead to satisfy ego. I heard about one man who became angry when he wasn’t given a certain leadership role in a congregation. “The very idea.” he said, “I have always been a leader and I expect to be one in the church.” This attitude is out of harmony with the Lord’s command to be “last” if you want to be great or first.

  6. He shouldn’t lead because he controls (i.e., gives) a major portion of the contribution. Persons in this category have been known to “cut off” their contributions because they didn’t get their way or certain leadership positions. Money must not “talk” in church affairs.

  7. He shouldn’t lead because of pressure. There are some men who have been pressured into leadership roles by their wife, family, members of the congregation, or some other person. One fellow said, “I took the job just to get them off my back.” God doesn’t use pressure—why should we?

  8. He shouldn’t lead out of selfishness. Some men accept positions because they want to see a “pet” project or work accomplished. One man joined the preacher-selection committee so that he could push for the hiring of his brother-in-law. His actions “split” the church.

  9. He shouldn’t lead because of insecurity. This may sound a little out of place because we don’t normally think of an insecure person accepting leadership responsibilities. The insecurity I am thinking about, however, has to do with salvation. Some think they will be lost if they don’t accept certain responsibilities. This attitude causes one to “work” for his salvation daily.

  10. He shouldn’t lead if he isn’t prepared. This is why leadership training is so important in the church. Many men are struggling to do the best they can without any real know-how or training for the jobs they have been assigned. This doesn’t have to be the case. If men will study and prepare themselves, they can be successful leaders for the Lord.

Some Positive Reasons

    The previous ten points dealt with attitudes. They are the keys to good, effective leadership; that is, good attitudes are the keys. The following points should help us answer the question: Why be a leader? These deal with attitudes, too, as well as positive reasons.

    There must be a valid reason for attempting the demanding responsibilities of leadership.
  1. God’s cause needs good leaders. His work is the most important in the world—a work which relates to time (now) and eternity (future). Through the centuries, men have given themselves to both honorable and dishonorable causes. But when we come to the work of the Lord, every cause is high and noble. Take, for example, teaching the lost or caring for the needy. These are works that are blessed of the Lord (Mark 16:15,16; James 1:27). The Father’s cause is so great that dedicated men and women are needed to fulfill it. Stop for a moment and think about the many works we have been privileged to do. Think of their value and benefits. This is why we must pray that the Lord of harvest will send forth laborers. Will you be one of them? The choice is yours!

  2. The work cannot be left to chance. Some seem to think that some way, some how, even without prepared leaders, the work of the Lord will be accomplished. This is false reasoning. It is like saying that it isn’t important to train medical doctors to treat the sick because if the ill are meant to get well, they will. God’s work must not be left to chance or haphazard approaches. God needs dependable leaders who can accomplish the work he has given his church. This is why you need to be a leader!

  3. The lost are waiting. Suppose you were told that you would be given a million dollars upon completion of some basic training to prepare you for rescuing persons trapped in dangerous circumstances. What would you do? If you are like most, you would rush into training and then on the rescue mission, so that you could get the million dollars. No doubt you would reason that it was not for the money, but to help those in the dangerous circumstances. Think for a moment. The spiritual lost are in the worst circumstances of all—without hope (John 8:24-28; Eph. 2:1,2). They are waiting for you to “rescue the perishing.” This is why you need to be a dedicated leader in the cause of Christ.

  4. The Lord expects you to lead. I base this statement upon what I believe to be the basic definition of leadership. Leadership is based upon what you say and upon what you do. Therefore, whether we like it or not, the Lord expects each member of his church to “say and do” those things that will bring glory to him. This is not saying that every man must do a certain task or accept a specific responsibility. It merely means that you are leading in one way or another. Why not, therefore, prepare yourself to be the best you can possibly be? Study the commands of the Lord and see how many of them apply to you—you will soon conclude that God wants you to lead.

  5. Because of the results. Consider the rewards of being a leader for the Lord’s cause. The personal blessings and satisfactions are enough to motivate a person to be involved in the work of the church. When you add to this the additional blessings of helping others and the reward of heaven, you have results that are almost beyond comprehension. No other field of endeavor provides the results that the work of the results that the work of the church provides. Want results? Try church leadership!

  6. Because of the times. No other generation has faced the challenges and complexities that the churches of today face. A population of over five billion, mass communications that bring the world into you living room, technological advances that stagger the mind, giant financial resources, and a host of other factors underline the challenging times in which we live.

    There are many valid answers to the question: Why be a leader? The six I have listed, however, should serve as a beginning point for further thought and study on this important question. Young and old within the church must come to grips with it. It must be answered before a man will move ahead as a dynamic leader for the Lord’s cause. How about you? Have you answered the question?


This excerpt is the first chapter from Christian Leadership Handbook by J. J. Turner.

J.J. Turner presently serves as Director of the Bear Valley School of Preaching in Denver, Colorado. He has been preaching for more than 25 years, having served churches in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and California. He taught for ten years in the School of Biblical Studies in West Monroe, Louisiana, where he also served as Dean. He presently serves as editor of Christian Bible Teacher magazine and is the former editor of Christian Family Magazine. He is the author of 55 books on a variety of subjects, as well as eight study guides, six tracts, and numerous video study courses. Turner has had a number of years radio and television experience and presently is the speaker for The Positive Way. He has conducted meetings, seminars, workshops, and retreats in 40 states and 12 countries. He has earned the B.A., M.A., M.R.E., D. Min., and Ph.D. degrees. He and his wife, Isabel, have two children.


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