What Happened to Male Leadership in Our Churches?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve got a lot of scared men in our churches. Men who are afraid of teaching classes, praying in public, and serving at the Lord’s Supper table. The fear doesn’t end there though. If you really look around you’ll men who are afraid to evangelize and afraid to train their children. At the root of it all we’ve got a lot of men in a lot of churches that either don’t care about leading or are too afraid to do so.
I’m not trying to bash those males who aren’t leading, but push them to do so. Why? Because our churches will die if Christians don’t do what they’ve been called to do. This extends to not only men, but women and children too though I want to focus my attention solely on the men today. We’ll do this first by laying out what Scripture says about male leadership and end our conversation discussing ways church leaders can encourage and challenge men to step and take the leadership role God has called them to.
What the Bible Says About Male Leadership
The Bible has quite a lot to say on the subject of male leadership. For the sake of length we’ll just hit some of the highlights.
Men are expected to become teachers – In fairness this is expected of all Christians, not just those who are male though the point still needs to be made that God expects men to become those able to teach. This teaching may be to a group or just to an individual, but the teaching is expected all the same. We see this expectation in places like 2 Tim. 2:2 where Paul instructs Timothy to teach others what they need to know in order to go out and teach others themselves. The Hebrew writer is embarrassed that his audience hasn’t grown to the point of being teachers (Heb. 5:12). The expectations of Christians, and men, haven’t changed. We are still expected to lead through teaching.
Men are expected to lead in every area of their life – Men are expected to lead their family to godliness. They are to lead their wives closer to God (Eph. 5:22-33) and train their children to follow God (Eph. 6:4). Parents have always been expected to teach their children and lead them spiritually (Dt. 6:4-9). Paul writes to Timothy that he desires that in every place “men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Tim. 2:8). Men are expected to be leaders in their marriages, in their families, in their churches, and in their everyday lives.
Men are expected to embody characteristics of leaders – Elders and deacons don’t develop the characteristics written in 1 Timothy 3 after they’ve been chosen to be elders and deacons. The qualities necessary to become an elder or deacon are present in the men chosen before they are chosen to those offices. Don’t get caught up in the “deacon” or “elder” thing here though. Men who aren’t deacons or elders are still expected to embody characteristics of leaders. All men in the church should fit the description of Galatians 5:22-24 (the fruit of the Spirit). It does not matter if you hold the position of elder or deacon in the church, if you’re a male you are expected to embody the characteristics of a leader.
How to Fix the Lack of Leadership
What do we do about all these men in our churches today who don’t lead? Here are a few suggestions:
Challenge your men – Some men don’t lead because they haven’t been challenged to do so. If we want the men in our churches to step up, we need to ask. I truly believe that people want to do what they’re supposed to do most of the time. I also believe that shyness, nervousness, and fear exist. Some guys don’t want to assert themselves into a leadership role, but would be happy to serve if they were asked. Leaders, don’t be afraid to challenge the men in your congregation to step up.
Encourage your men – Along with the challenge to lead you should to provide encouragement. Let the men who are serving know how much their service means to the church. Without them the church would be unable to function. Encourage their development as they tackle praying, speaking, or reading in front of others. I’ve heard many preachers thank the song leader, Bible reader, or prayer from the pulpit before the sermon. Leaders, make sure you encourage them men in congregation as they try to step up and fulfill their leadership role.
Lead your men – Leaders, if you want other men to step up and lead you have to be willing to show them the way. Jesus showed his disciples what leadership looked like when he preached to the multitudes on the mountainside, when he healed the hurting masses, and when he knelt down to wash their feet. If we want others to lead we have to get down with them and do the work. There were times when Jesus said “go” (Mt. 10:1-5) and times when Jesus said “let me serve you” (John 13). If we want better evangelists we need to show our men how to evangelize. If we want better servants we need to first become great servants ourselves. Leaders, if we want the men in our congregation to step up and lead, we need to show them what leadership looks like.
There’s more that could be said on this topic and maybe we’ll address that in a future article, but for now I want us to know these two facts: 1) The Bible expects all Christian men to be leaders and 2) it’s never too late to step up and fulfill the expectation God has for you. If all men in the church would fulfill that expectation the church would see unprecedented growth. What a glorious sight that would be!
Have any thoughts you’d like to add to the discussion? Post them down below in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the Bible says about leadership and how we can make the men in our congregation’s better leaders.