Faithful Leaders

It can be discouraging to see Christian leaders sometimes falter and sometimes fall. We feel residual shame when yet another well-known pastor is caught in scandal, when yet another Christian celebrity succumbs to a web of his own weaving. Yet we need to be careful that we do not make the extent of the problem greater than it is, for behind every one of these well-known, unfaithful leaders is a legion of ones who, though unknown, are faithful to God’s call.

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Rico Tice’s Faithful Leaders and the Things that Matter Most is a brief guidebook to the kind of faithful ministry that so many aspire to and so many achieve. It is a book that is designed for the pastor or leader who wishes to remain faithful and to hear God’s ultimate “well done.” “This book is about what it takes to live that kind of life,” he says. “What it looks like to hear ‘Well done’ instead of ‘You fool.’ It is a book for anyone in any kind of church leadership.” Thus it is not only for pastors, but also for elders, youth workers, Bible-study leaders, and so on. “I want to be a faithful leader. I want to hear my Father look me in the eye and, surveying my ministry, say ‘Well done.’ I want you to hear it too. That means we need to define success, to fight our sin, to lead ourselves, and to serve our churches.”

These four categories form the outline for what is a brief and simple book, but one that punches above its weight. In chapter 1 Tice guides the reader into properly defining ministry success. Looking to the example of the Apostle Paul, he defines such success primarily as correctly handling the Bible—to labor to understand the Word of God and then to rightly minister it to others. For a leader to do this he must not get waylaid by numbers, as if the size of a ministry can negate the need for faithfulness. It also requires distinctly Christian character, for no amount of raw talent can overcome ungodly habits or temperament.

Chapter 2 calls on the leader to be diligent in battling sin—to identify the sins to which leaders are most prone and the sins to which each individual is most prone, then to put those to death. The third chapter turns to the notion of self-leadership for “find a failure of pastoral leadership and, if you look underneath, you’ll see a failure of self-leadership.” This involves living a godly, consistent life not just within the public eye, but also outside of it. The final chapter calls the Christian leader to serve the church—not to use it, not merely to lead it, not to exert power over it, but to diligently serve it. After all, we follow in the footsteps of the one who served the church at the cost of his own life.

Every pastor and every ministry leader needs to be reminded of the simplest truths on a regular basis, and Tice focuses on four of them here. To be faithful, to hear the Father’s commendation, they must define success in a biblical way, fight hard against sin, exercise self-leadership, and faithfully serve the local church. Anyone in any kind of leadership will benefit from reading this book and being reminded of such basic but crucial truths.

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