I was asked not too long ago what I thought the character makeup of a missional leader should be. Of course the definition of a “missional leader” could vary greatly. But for our purposes I will argue for “someone who is leading a group of people into the mission in some way to encounter the lost”. With that in mind here are my thoughts on the character traits that are necessary-in no certain order:
1. Integrity-this is the idea that a person is the same outside as they are inside. There is congruency between their governing center and their actions. This is the quality that makes a person trustworthy. It is also the quality that makes people want to follow. I believe this is the quality of consistency-and that is critical in leading people into true engagement for the cause of Christ.
2. Humility-I have commented before on the necessity of this trait for leaders. This is the quality of not thinking of yourself. Be sure-it is not the quality of making little of yourself-that can actually turn into a subtle form of pride. It is the recognition that all one has comes from Christ-the privilege of leading, the power to lead, the talent to lead, the followers to lead. Humility is what will allow you to go the distance in leading. This is the trait that allows a leader to give away credit and admit mistakes. This is another important factor in drawing followers.
3. Faith-The mission is about people. And people are messy. Not only that but the essence of the mission is getting people to change their very reason for living-to point them to a glorious Christ-by admitting their absolute need for Him. This takes great faith in a great God. Because He is the only One who can actually accomplish it. And best I can tell from the Scripture-this is not so much about “trusting” God for huge numbers-but about prayer! We lead on our knees.
4. Endurance-Every leader goes through times of doubt, times of criticism, times of tiredness, etc. And so do the followers. Endurance is the quality of long suffering-of not quitting. I am a long distance runner-to be able to endure you have to keep your eye on the prize-on the finish line. That reference point is Christ Himself. I had a professor in seminary that talked about the principle of a “slave leader” from Scripture. One of his key points is that a slave leader can never quit-on God or others. That’s endurance.
5. Generosity-This may seem like a strange trait to bring up in a top five list. But I mean this sincerely. A missional leader must be generous in every way. First and foremost-he or she must be generous with the Gospel-to believers and unbelievers alike. They must be generous with their time. They must be generous with their money. He must be generous with their knowledge and experience. They must be generous with their power and authority-raising up more leaders better than themselves. The mission is meant to be given away-even that can be hard for the leader looking to make a name for himself.
Well-there are few thoughts. What are yours? What traits would you add or take away? Join the discussion.