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A Leadership Guardrail

Guard Rails

What can a pastor do to keep himself under the influence of God’s downward force of humility? How can a pastor avoid
the temptation of Satan, and the lusts of his sinful nature to be lifted up with pride? What protections can a leader have in his life to help him stay in the Lord’s will to serve rather than to rule? Here is one very practical Biblical guard rail to keep leaders on track.

Love Accountability

One very helpful “guard rail” to keep leaders in the right leadership attitude is to maintain an attitude that loves to be held accountable. When a leader is open to being held accountable to his responsibilities, it disarms the devil. Loving accountability takes the hot air out of the pride balloon that lifts a leader up in his own heart. The rock of humility is a safe and powerful foundation for leadership to stand upon.
Accountability means the pastor intentionally denies the honor of his position in order to hold himself accountable to his lifestyle, teaching and care for those he has been called to serve. Loving accountability means a leader invites people —any person — to hold him accountable to do his responsibilities. God wisely put the church leaders’s responsibilities in the Bible for everyone to see and read. Solomon considered the task of being king, saw himself as the servant of God’s people and concluded that he was a debutante. This in turn brought him to the conclusion that he needed wisdom; not strength, money or long life.

Solomon had God’s leadership focus

1Kings 3:7 —And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 1Kings 3:8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 1Kings 3:9—Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
Rather than focus on his position and power as the king of Israel, Solomon focused on the great responsibility he was given as a leader of God’s people. This focus on responsibility pulled him down to a place of humility where he asked for divine resources. Jesus reiterated Solomon’s words when He told his disciples that the greatest among them will be as a servant and a child.
Luke 22:26—…he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
Solomon’s joy to serve the Lord translated into a kingdom with joyful servants. Solomon reigned among God’s people, not above them. A kingdom ruled by wisdom is a kingdom where the leaders don’t assume they know everything. They are open to everyone for correction, feedback and advice. This gives the people a sense of value, ownership and importance because they are part of the leading process — the most important part. Here are some of Solomon’s thoughts on the matter of leaders being corrected.
Proverbs 9:8—Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Proverbs 13:1—A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
Ecclesiastes 4:13—Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

Leaders Need Help

Great leaders know they need help. They know they need feedback, correction and rebuke. From where do they get this vital information? Those they serve are perhaps the most important source of accountability for the leader; the teacher is accountable to her students; the husband is accountable to his wife; parents are accountable to their children; and pastors are accountable to their people.

In 1 Timothy 5:19-22, we can see how the Apostle Paul saw the importance of leaders being accountable to the congregation. In these important church leadership verses, Paul teaches leaders that the congregation has the right and responsibility to hold the leaders accountable (verse 19); “to bring an accusation against an elder.” This is hugely important because it means leadership’s role is 1) to be open to accusation and 2) to take accusations seriously.

For sure, Satan can work in the congregation to discredit the office of the pastor by lies and gossip, but he also can work in a leader to isolate him from accountability. A leader can cause a lot of trouble in the church when he doesn’t hear his staff ’s or congregation’s attempts to hold him or his assistant pastors accountable to the Biblical responsibilities of a church leader. A leader who loves accountability has no problem with being corrected or “accused” of doing something he shouldn’t.  It takes him from being above the church and puts him in the church with everyone else. Some pastors like holding others accountable but don’t like being held accountable. The opposite is a better leadership characteristic he should rather hold himself accountable to the beam of responsibility in his eye and then others to their splinter. This attitude is a guard rail that keeps the leader from seeing himself as too honorable to be criticized.

Specifics on Pastoral Correction

The “double honor” mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:17 is material support needed to help the pastor cover the costs of his time and expense to carry out his responsibility of laboring in the word. It is not honor, respect or deference given to a leader because of his position. Paul goes on to teach that church leaders have the responsibility to hear the accusation and determine if the accusation is true based on 2 or 3 witnesses (verse 19). This means the accuser is held accountable to have two or three witnesses when a leader is accused. The first reaction must be to ask if the accusation is true. It must not be presumed that he is innocent on the grounds that he is a leader rather, the truth of the accusation is the most important issue. A common leadership mistake is for the leader to try to stop people from holding them accountable by calling them critical or negative when in fact they are God’s messengers of correction for the church’s sake. In every situation regarding a pastor, it is the pastor who has the greater accountability. If it is determined after due process that the accused leader is in sin, the church leaders then have the responsibility to hold him accountable. This is not to punish him, but rather to correct him and to protect the flock over which Jesus made him an overseer. Paul says to rebuke him so that other leaders will respect their responsibility and know they are accountable. Accountability is based on the leader’s responsibility to oversee, care for, and feed the flock. The trust, influence and access the leader’s position carries is huge and must be tempered by his responsibility to care for, edify and feed the flock. If on the other hand the accuser is found to be false or there is insufficient evidence to establish the veracity of the accusation, then the leaders are responsible to either hold the false accuser accountable or to declare the elder to be innocent This is all to be done in a way that does not disturb the church and discredit people This accountability process, though difficult and uncomfortable, can be simple and untroubling to the church if leaders love accountability and the people understand the process. This short teaching from Paul to young Pastor Timothy shows us the important balance between the congregation holding the leaders accountable and vice versa.

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