According to the Ministry Tools Resource Center, Christian education should facilitate the spiritual growth or discipleship of believers into Christ-likeness. This goal may be achieved through the administration of various programs or strategies. Christian education differs from secular education in that it seeks to transform believers into the image of Christ; whereas, secular education merely seeks to make one a more successful and intelligent person. Matthew 6:33 admonishes us to “… seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Christian education addresses the whole man; natural and spiritual.
As we go about our daily activities, it has become very apparent that the mindset of many is not that of pleasing God. With the advent of social media, we are bombarded daily with news of religious leaders falling prey to greed, self-promotion, moral indignation, and temptation. If carefully examined, it would not be surprising to discover that many individuals in positions of leadership were never formally trained to be effective leaders. As a result, many ministries fail to grow because their leaders learn to dictate and control (manage), rather than learn the principles of Godly leadership.
Dr. Jeff McMaster published an article on February 3, 2015 entitled “Effective Christian Leadership: Ezra’s Model of Team Leadership.” Using the Book of Ezra, particularly Chapters 7 and 8, the article highlighted some important concepts in Ezra’s preparation to lead the Israelites back to Jerusalem; the assembling of his team, and carrying out the mission. The article examined three key components of a team: the leader, the team, and leadership of the team.
The Leader. Ezra 7:10 states, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” From this verse, Dr. McMaster postulates a sequential, three-step process that is essential in the development of a Christian leader. The first step is to “learn.” A leader must learn to know God intimately by spending dedicated time talking and listening to Him, as well as studying His word. A leader must then understand the history of the organization, be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of team members, and understand the potential issues the team may encounter. A leader’s relationship with God yields the capability to lead. The second step is to “live.” The actions of a leader must reflect what he or she is teaching. When there is consistency between actions and values, a leader establishes the credibility to lead. The third step is to “lead,” which cannot occur without first establishing steps one and two. A leader leads by teaching, guiding and showing others the correct way. This can only occur after a leader has committed to growing in a trusting relationship with God and applying God’s word to every aspect of his or her life.
The Team. In Ezra 8:15-18, Ezra took some time (3 days) to examine his followers and found that someone was missing from his team. Ezra knew that in order for him to successfully complete his mission, he needed the right people in the right positions. As Ezra formed his Temple leadership team, he chose “chief men” (people who had proven leadership ability and experience) and “men of understanding” (those with a special gift of insight who could serve as advisors). By submitting to God and by following God’s leadership, Ezra successfully assembled a team that would meet the needs of the mission.
Leadership of the Team. In Ezra 8:21-31, Ezra presents four components that he incorporated into his leadership style. First, he presented himself as a spiritual example by calling a fast. This demonstrated his humility in recognizing God’s authority in their mission. Secondly, Ezra began assigning responsibilities and instructions for managing the resources that were to be carried into the Temple. Thirdly, he motivated his team. In verse 28, Ezra reminded them of who they were by declaring “… Ye are holy unto the Lord…” Lastly, Ezra maintained unity within the team. He knew that the mission could not be completed by one individual; it required a team effort.
Dr. McMaster asserts that as Christian leaders, we must recognize and submit to God’s divine will for our lives and the tasks He sets before us. We must emphatically pursue an intimate relationship with God and ensure that our actions are consistent with our values. As we assemble our teams, we must ensure that we surround ourselves with those with proven leadership ability, those with wisdom and understanding, as well as spiritual leaders who are humble and truly committed to God. When all of these attributes are obtained, we are prepared to lead our team.
“Church Christian Education Ministry Overview.” Ministry Tool Resource Center. http://www.mintools.com/christian-education.htm
Accessed June 29, 2016
The Holy Bible: King James Version (1989). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
McMaster, J. “Effective Christian Leadership: Ezra’s Model of Team Leadership.” Center for the Advancement of Christian Education (CACE). February 3, 2015. http://www.cace.org/effective-christian-leadership-ezras-model-of-team-leadership
Accessed June 29, 2016