Gardner’s 9 Leadership Tasks adapted for Christian Leadership. Matthew Johnson CL 612 Final Project. What is Christian Leadership?.
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Christian leadership is the process of leading God’s people toward’s God’s purpose so that they might understand and embrace their role in the Missio Dei. A Christian leader is a person formed in the Imago Dei with a servant heart whose God-given skills and talents are purposefully surrendered to the Holy Spirit so that He might use them to Influence a specific group of God’s people towards God’s purpose.
-Adapted from Dr. Rick Gray
As someone who learns from practical thinking and concrete steps, I find myself asking how the Christian Leader might practically guide God’s people. Gardner offers 9 tasks of the leader, and I will attempt to see how they might fit under the three essential areas in which a Christian Leader works.
Gardner lists five ways that leadership encompasses management responsibilities. He lists those tasks as:
Management falls into the area of governance. Yet, several management tasks come into conflict with Christian Leadership.
As noted above, an important Christian value is people over the institution. How does a leader respond when growing the people and managing an institution conflict?
Christian Leadership happens best in the team setting, while Gardner seems to state that management is partly individual decision-making. How does Christian Leadership understand management in a team setting?
Leaders must be able to negotiate conflict and build trust so that a team might have a sense of unity and not be destroyed by internal strife and conflict.
Workable unity is a type of governance. It is an absolutely necessary skill for Christian leaders, as conflict often surfaces within the Kingdom of God. Christian leaders with conflict resolution skills are especially valuable in organizations that are polarized around particular issues.
People want to know what the problem is, why they were being asked to do certain things, how they related to the larger picture. It is the role of the leader to communicate and explain what is going on. In this sense, leaders are teacher. Great leaders are clearly teaching.
Explaining falls under the idea of direction and governance. Christian leaders have an understanding of the overall picture, and are able to enlighten those who follow. Christian leaders must also be aware of their role as communicators as it gives direction to the followers.
Leaders serve as a symbol to their organization. Leaders are set apart and examined by the followers, and no longer speak for themselves alone. Leaders are called to serve as a symbol that galvanizes and empowers their followers.
The idea of serving as a symbol can be seen as direction or governance. Do Christian leaders merely serve as symbols, or is our call something greater?
2. Christian Leaders are not to be seen for outward appearance. Christian Leadership is an attitude of the heart, thus integrity, character, and one’s regression to holiness is crucial. Christian Leaders must serve as examples, not simply symbols.
Leaders cannot merely focus on their own followers; instead they represent the group the world at large, and serve as a representative between those inside the group and those outside of the group.
I do not believe that the idea of representing the group falls into any of the three essential functions of Christian leadership. I believe that Christian Leaders must be representatives, but not simply of a group of people, but representatives of Christ. Christian leaders must not only focus on the current followers, but those who need to hear the message of Christ.
Moreover, Christian Leaders are called to grow and mentor the people so that the people are prepared to represent the Gospel of Christ to a fallen world. Christian leaders do not hold the key; all of God’s people must be involved in God’s redeeming work in the world, living their lives as ambassadors of Christ.
Gardner states “All too often on the long road up young leaders become ‘shapers of what is’ rather than ‘shapers of what might be.” Leaders are called to help bring about appropriate change to an organization that will breathe new life into that organization.
Renewing falls into the category of direction. Christian Leaders, though, are guided by two important ideas. First, what is God doing and how can we be involved? Second, is the change that we seek brought about by the Holy Spirit?
We realize that true change and true renewal in an organization only comes when it is God-breathed and Holy Spirit ordained. Change for the sake of change is not our responsibility; Change for the furthering of God’s Kingdom must become our goal.
As Christians, we must realize that programs and ideas do NOT bring renewal. Throughout history, renewal comes from a rediscovery and proclamation of God’s Word. Whether King Josiah, Martin Luther, or John Wesley, renewal happens as people continue to interact and be changed by the Word of God.
All information regarding Gardner’s 9 Tasks were found in an article entitled “What works, what matters, what last, Vol IV.” The article is available at