What makes a leader?

This is a big topic indeed, so I will attempt to put forward some points and convictions that I have built up over the years; being led and at times having the opportunities to lead.

Regardless of whether it is leadership in missions or leadership in general, the challenge in this day is to be able to remain focussed; focussed on what God would have us do “in our generation” and in our areas of ministry. What this requires is for us to have a clear vision. Proverbs 29:18 says “without a vision, the people perish”. This vision must be from God and the leader must be alert to what He is doing in this time and be alert to His leading. He needs to be sensitive to what God wants done – Proverbs 19:21 reminds us that “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”. Only when the leader has a vision, God’s vision, can he lead a team. Only after having a clear vision can he have a clear mission and strategies to accomplish that God-given vision.

Besides a clear vision from God, the leader in Missions must also have the ability to rise up and look beyond his circumstances and challenges that are ever-present in Missions work because we are involved in ‘the very thing’ that Satan is most concerned about – the expansion of His Kingdom. In the process, he has to be able to see why God is allowing some things to happen and what HE is doing in the grand scheme of things. The leader must always remember that God is Sovereign and HE is in control no matter what the situation looks like or how crazy and heart-breaking the realities are. As they say “when God closes a door, He opens another”; and sometimes it may not be another open door but just a ‘little window’. The question is whether we are sensitive and alert to what God is doing and not be overwhelmed by what is happening. The persecution in some Creative Access Nation places and foreign missionaries being ‘kicked out’ is a kick in the teeth for a lot of people serving in those places. But we also realise that that may be God’s way of raising His own workers amongst the indigenous church.  Indeed, in some of these places, we have seen the local church rising to the occasion. How comforting to know that God is stirring and doing a marvellous work in His own church in these places.
除了来自神的清晰异象外,宣教领袖也必须有能力起来并超越他的处境,況且古往今来宣教事工始终存在的诸多挑战,因为我们投身的,乃是撒但最担心的"这件事"──扩展祂的国度。 在这个过程中,他必须能够看到为什么神会允许一些事情发生,以及祂在大格局中的作为。 领袖必须永远记住,神掌权,无论局势看起来如何,或者现实如何令人疯狂和心碎,都在祂的控制之下。正如人们所说的,"当神关上一扇门时,他会打开另一扇门";有时不一定是另一扇打开的门,而只是一扇"小窗"。问题是我们是否对神的作为有著足够敏锐和警觉,而不是被所发生的事所压倒。一些创启地区发生的迫害,外籍宣教士被"踢出国门",对很多在那里服事的人而言是当头一棒 。但我们也意识到,这可能是神在本土教会兴起祂自己的工人的方式。事实上,在有些地方,我们已经看到当地教会迎刃而上。知道神在这些地方祂自己的教会里搅动和推动奇妙的事工,是何等令人欣慰的事。

Following from this, the leader in Missions when knowing that God is in every situation and having His way regardless, must also learn to “enjoy the ride” and count himself privileged to be part of what God is doing in the world. This is something I believe that leaders, especially Mission leaders should have, besides a sense of humour (the ability to look beyond himself), able to rest in Him and to enjoy the ride and see God doing His mighty work in our midst.

Lastly, but most importantly, we can never talk about Missions leadership without a close relationship with God. John 15:5 – only when we are in Him can He use us and can we understand His heart and know what He wants done in our generation.
最后,但也是最重要的,我们永远不能脱离与神的亲密关系来谈论宣教领导力。 约翰福音15:5 —— 只有当我们在祂里面,祂才能使用我们,我们也才能明白祂的心意,知道祂想要在我们这个世代做什么。

The above four points are by no means an exhaustive list of missionary leadership qualities. But I believe they are foundational. God has been speaking to me and reminding me of these qualities that I must pursue while writing this short article.  I pray that He will speak to you too. 

by an OMF Member working in the area of teaching and leadership development

This article was originally published in OMF Serving Asia, August/September edition, and has been republished with permission.

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