In Exemplary Spiritual Leadership author and pastor Jerry Wragg takes on the notion of much of modern evangelicalism in the realm of what characteristics and qualifications a man must possess in order to be a leader within the Church. The entire tome works to explain the differences between what God demands and what the world seeks in a leader. In the conclusion Wragg offers the following definition of leadership,
“It is the God-given ability to influence others through the power of a godly life and the wisdom gained in the practice of truth.” (p. 144).
From an experiential perspective, this is perhaps the best definition of the term as it applies to the Church I have come across so far in my Christian walk. The entirety of the book is geared toward supporting this end-state idea so that the reader is already convinced when reading the conclusion to which Wragg has already arrived.
As a volume the work is easy to follow and can even be completely read in one sitting without much of strain. This is not because of lack of weight given the subject matter but speaks more to the skill of Wragg as an author in being able to communicate truth in an easy to grasp manner. The book is divided into three parts; 1) The Dynamics of Leadership, 2) The Dangers of Leadership, 3) The Development of Leadership. These sections deal with the roles, responsibilities, temptations, and character traits of leaders in a way that point directly to the source of power/authority of every leader-Jesus Christ.
In all I did not find anything in this book with which I disagreed, therefore I will now direct my attention to topics which struck me hardest and how those topics will likely affect my approach to serving as a leader as well as developing and shepherding other leaders within the local Church.
In chapter 2 Wragg addresses the issue of personal holiness, especially in the life of a leader. This standard of what is expected of a leader within the church stands in stark contrast with what is acceptable in the secular realm. The simple reminder that the Lord looks upon the heart of a man and not on his outward appearance (1 Sam 16:7) is much needed in order that as leaders we might not falsely convince ourselves that somehow there is a different, more lenient standard for us. This is exactly the opposite of what Scripture teaches (Heb 13:17b) and if this warning is taken seriously should be motivation toward godliness and not hypocrisy. With this warning I believe it is all the more important that the one in spiritual leadership have those around him in whom he can confide, from whom he might receive counsel, and even admonishment so that he is able to be focused upon what God demands and not be left to his own judgment of himself. For this reason I am all the more convinced that a plurality of elders is necessary as a protection to the leaders from prideful behavior, dictatorial rule, and a do as I say and not as I do example to the flock of God.
The second area in which I was most challenged in my thinking and approach to leadership is the entirety of section 3, The Development of Leadership. Perhaps because of my military background I had never given this responsibility of the church’s human leadership very much thought. This is primarily because within the military this activity is somewhat organic and automatic. I have always been a bit surprised by the apathetic attitude toward being active in leadership that many Christian men display, primarily because I agree with Wragg and many others that all men are called to be leaders at some level. After reading this section I realized that the antidote to this apathy is for the leadership of the church to be actively seeking out and training the men who will replace them in the local body of Christ. I believe that this can be accomplished without much difficulty if one follows some of the sage advice given by Wragg. Namely, the men in current leadership should be actively observing the men of the flock to see whom if any demonstrate a desire for the work of an under-shepherd (1 Tim 3:1). Furthermore, they should be looking at all the men to see who among them is already displaying the character traits demanded of a leader in Scripture (1 Tm 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9). When these men are discovered they should be invited into a “training program” to determine if they possess the giftedness that is likewise required of a leader in Scripture. This is not to say that each man must be perfect in all or even any of these areas but is displaying a discernable effort at being conformed to the standard set by Scripture in a way that is motivated out of a love for God. It should also not be assumed either on the part of the leaders or the men in the program that participation is guaranteed spot on the elder board as only God makes elders, it is merely the responsibility of the local church to recognize and affirm these leaders.