In The Book on Leadership, Pastor John MacArthur speaks clearly to pastors about the nature of Godly church leadership. He structures the book around the ministry and leadership of the Apostle Paul, making keen observations most often from Acts 27 and the books of First and Second Corinthians. MacArthur offers twenty-six key principles for Christian leaders to follow, supported by practical, expository insight into Scriptural standards for Christ-like shepherding.
MacArthur begins by emphasizing that leaders earn trust through selflessness, and that they must take initiative, and demonstrate confidence. Speaking of Paul at the time of his shipwreck in Acts 27, MacArthur points out that where “lesser men would have been passive or given up, Paul took charge and became an example to all who are called to be leaders” (57).
MacArthur then discusses Paul’s connections and dealings with the Corinthian church. He argues that a Christian leader must be dedicated, understanding, and tender with his people. Because a spiritual leader will always suffer many personal attacks, it is paramount that the pastor understands that his strength and sufficiency cannot be found in himself, but only in Christ. Thus, what makes a pastor a good leader is not his own physical, emotional or mental strength, but his devotion to and reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit.
In part three, “An Approved Workman: Leadership Held to a Biblical Standard,” MacArthur discusses the foundation centrality of the Word of God. He argues that the role of the pastor must be defined, driven, and bound, not by secular, corporate or pragmatic ideas, but only by biblical standards. MacArthur is also clear that “Scripture, not the corporate world or the political arena, is the authoritative source we need to turn to in order to learn the truth about spiritual leadership” (11).
In the book’s final section, titled “The Measure of a Leader’s Success,” MacArthur defines Paul’s success by his far-reaching impact on a wide range of people. MacArthur says that Paul’s “continuing influence in the lives of so many people gives ample proof of the effectiveness of his leadership to the very end” (206). Here is where I found myself readily disagreeing with Pastor MacArthur. While the far-reaching influence of a pastor upon the lives of many people may be an indication of his external effectiveness, I do not believe this is what Scripture views as success. To me, it seems that God defines the measure of a leader’s success, or anyone’s success for that matter, by his faithfulness. The question is not how many people you have reached or influenced, the question is whether you were faithful in the calling to which God has called you.
One of my biggest takeaways from this book is the seriousness of the call to leadership, and viewing that leadership as a stewardship. Any and all positions of leadership in the church are delegated by God, and this is just as true of the pastoral office. The pastor is given his authority by the Chief Shepherd – Christ Himself – and thus must give an account to Christ for the godly character with which he has stewarded that position of leadership and authority.
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in getting a clearer understanding of the gravity and calling of church leadership. This is an especially helpful resource for those seeking to become a better steward of their calling as spiritual leaders.