What Type of Leader Are You?

Leading in church is challenging already, but today, members and the community closely watch pastoral leadership under a microscope. The pastor’s leadership style can create a nurturing place to grow in faith or a toxic environment that fosters unhealthy relationships. 

The ability to more closely align with the leadership traits of Jesus makes a pastor more effective in reaching others. 

Ivory Tower Leader

This leader leads from an office desk and views things from a 30,000-foot level without asking for suggestions or listening to other people’s thoughts. This type of leadership might be the most dangerous leadership style in the church because it relies on one person’s judgment to make all the decisions, and this person does not have all the information because they do not ask others for their opinion. Sadly, this leadership style has been seen countless times and each time, the pastoral leader needed an inner circle of subordinates who could speak truth into this leader’s life. 

White Board Leader

Churches desperately want a leader who helps them overcome their obstacles. A White Board Leader is seen as a futuristic leader who sees the problem before the church; evaluates needs; reviews all dimensions of the past, present, and future needs; and begins to draw up ideas to solve the church’s problems. In fact, this leader might have so many ideas that some fall to the wayside because they lack focus on the main issue before the church. 

Having a strong supporting cast around this type of leader helps them focus on the task by narrowing the problems they are facing and being guided long-term by the original vision, but with a visionary team that can work backward to complete the task on the task dream wish list. Without a team, the leader who can trust or will listen to this leader will become disjointed in thinking and could miss the overall mark. 

Consensus Leader

This type of leader wants to make everyone happy, and in the process is willing to lose their voice. In a world that is polarized in many ways, this leader tries to find the middle ground for every considerable agreement that needs to be made in the church. They will slow down the process to ensure everyone feels heard, seen, and valued. Along the way, the leader will deal with strong personalities that try to dictate the conversation and will have to be willing to veer the decision-making back to the center to garner a larger vote share in the decision process. The downside of a consensus leader is that nothing gets done beyond hosting meetings and talking about projects almost to their death. When a church urgently finds itself in a significant decline, this type of leader could harm the process and sink the church. 

Compassionate Leader

Jesus led through the example of humble teaching, living, praying, and seeking out others who might not have felt a part of a future leadership team. The compassionate leader leads by following the principles of Jesus and striving to obtain a higher calling in their ability as a leader. This type of leader is seen by others as approachable, a good listener, and a person who challenges the status quo by trying to include everyone in the process of leading in the local church. The negative side of this type of leadership is compassion sometimes overtakes the logistical needs that the church is facing. This type of leadership may delay long-term decision-making for short-term compassion. 

Community Leader 

This leader sees the community as not separate from the church but as a part of what the church is. These leaders value the needs and voice of the neighbors around the church and strive to connect the two (neighborhood and church). They are seen through the community center model church that values people and interactions over Sunday liturgical teaching. This type of leader sees through Jesus’s eyes the needs around the church and strives to reach them by using the church campus as an extension of Christ’s hands and feet to reach the lost. 

Each of these five leadership traits has positives and negatives. Spend some time reflecting on your current leadership model by writing down the pluses and minuses of where your leadership stands and see if tweaks could be made to make you a more effective leader.

Desmond Barrett
Desmond Barrett
Desmond Barrett is the lead pastor at Winter Haven First Church of the Nazarene in Winter Haven, Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently, Helping the Small Church Win Guests: Preparing To Increase Attendance (Wipf & Stock Publications) and has done extensive research in the area of church revitalization and serves as church revitalizer, consultant, coach, podcast host and mentor to revitalizing pastors and churches.