You will find effective, competent leaders everywhere — from boardrooms to intensive care units to libraries, and in churches. Leadership in ministry settings is crucial not only for ensuring that the organization operates smoothly and fulfills its mission, but also for serving as a source of inspiration and guidance.
What is Christian leadership, and what are the main principles of Christian leadership? Below, you can learn about the top seven qualities of a Christian leader. You’ll also explore a degree option for learning more about leadership in ministry settings, as well as what you might choose to do with your degree following graduation.
In This Article:
- Characteristics of Christian Leaders
- What Is a Christian Leadership Degree?
- Applying the Principles of Christian Leadership
- Career Options Involving Leadership in Ministry
- Begin Your Christian Leadership Education With GCU
Characteristics of Christian Leaders
Christian leaders come from all walks of life, but they are all united by their faith in God and their desire to serve others. While there are many important qualities for a Christian leader to embrace, the following are seven of the top characteristics and practices1:
1. Leading by Example
The first of the top seven qualities of a Christian leader is to lead by example. Wise Christian leaders do not consider themselves to be better than the church’s congregants or above adhering to biblical principles. Rather, effective Christian leaders understand that it’s important to try to understand their congregants and experience the hardships and struggles they experience. Just as police officers are not considered “above the law,” neither are church leaders above following the practices and principles they champion. Ultimately, Christian leaders must follow the example of Christ. Christ followers lead by setting a Christ-like example for others. As the Apostle Paul once said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, ESV).
Another important quality for a Christian leader is humility. No matter how far up the ranks of the church leadership a person ascends, they must always remember that they are still ultimately under the Lordship of Christ. It’s important for ministers and other Christian leaders to embrace a humble mindset, meekness of heart, and Christ-like humility in their behaviors.
3. Integrity and Ethics
Worshippers place a considerable amount of trust in their church leaders, who are in a position to exercise power and authority. It’s essential for a church leader to stay true to their personal and professional code of integrity; to live in a manner befitting the position and to practice what they themselves preach. Church leaders must remember that trust is something that must be earned by maintaining personal integrity as they lead others to grow in character. As we read in the First Epistle to Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16, ESV).
The Christian faith is infused with the light of love. Church leaders should remember that love of God and their fellow humans is the force that should drive their every decision and behavior. By embracing this principle of Christian leadership, church leaders can strive to keep their motives pure.
5. Growth Toward Maturity
No matter which credential a Christian leader may earn at a seminary or how far up in the church leadership they progress, they must remember that living a life of faith is a lifelong endeavor. A focus on continual, never-ending growth and maturity is crucial for following God’s Word. Throughout a Christian leader’s life, they will encounter both personal and professional challenges. In order to overcome these challenges, Christian leaders need to devote themselves to personal development and continuous spiritual improvement.
6. Servant Leadership
Jesus may have been a leader of men, but he was also their servant (Mark 10:45). He washed the feet of others and attended to their needs (John 13:1). A true Christian leader must embrace the humble principles of servant leadership. Servant leadership involves respecting those around you and placing their best interests ahead of your personal desires (Philippians 2:3).
An effective Christian leader must be a follower of God’s Word, but they must also be a visionary. Every ministerial setting has a vision — to serve God and to serve the faith community. Some ministries focus on feeding the poor, housing the homeless or uplifting refugees. No matter what the vision is, a Christian leader must be able to communicate that vision in an inspirational way to their congregation, and to lead others toward fulfilling it.
What Is a Christian Leadership Degree?
Featuring an interdisciplinary approach, Grand Canyon University’s Master of Arts in Christian Leadership can position you for possible leadership opportunities in a variety of settings. In this program, offered by Grand Canyon Theological Seminary, you will be taught the leadership development practices that can help guide guide others in community and in ministry contexts. Furthermore, this curriculum can offer opportunities to enhance your administrative knowledge and skills, so you can go on to transform your church or community as a more effective leader.
In addition to a foundational platform in leadership best practices, this master’s program incorporates an exploration of Christian doctrine. Throughout your coursework, you can participate in supervised field experiences. In the classroom, you can examine topics such as biblical leadership, ministerial ethics, Christian doctrine, biblical interpretation and leadership through change and crisis.
Applying the Principles of Christian Leadership
The master's in Christian leadership degree program guides you in developing a solid biblical and theological foundation on which to construct your management philosophy. While developing strategies, setting goals, inspiring collaboration and managing priorities, you will be taught how to apply biblical teachings within church, business, nonprofit, public service and community organizations.
Career Options Involving Leadership in Ministry
Now that you’re familiar with the top seven qualities of a Christian leader and GCU’s Christian leadership degree, it’s time to look at your career path possibilities. There are several roles involving leadership in ministry and parachurch settings. Reflect upon your options carefully and consider speaking with your own church’s leaders to solicit their guidance on your future. Some of top ministry leadership careers include:
A vocation as a minister often involves regular public speaking in the form of weekly services, memorial services and community events. A minister’s administrative duties may include supervision, budgeting, hiring, training and organizing meetings.
A church youth director is often responsible for developing and organizing programs for older children and adolescents that are designed to aid in their spiritual development. These individuals may create activity schedules, offer counseling for troubled youth and work with other parties to organize events.
Responsible for running their church’s daily operations, the role of a church administrator is to ensure that income and contributions are expended efficiently. Generally, church administrators are second only to the pastors when it comes to managing the worship group. These professionals work with the pastor to ensure the proper funding of church initiatives, that budgets are adhered to and forecasts are met.
Begin Your Christian Leadership Education With GCU
Grand Canyon Theological Seminary strives to transform students into Christian leaders and prepare them to minister effectively and faithfully. The Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree is an appropriate choice for those who aspire to serve Jesus and his church with integrity. If you would like to discover more, fill out the form on this page.
1 Ruggeri, C. (2022). 7 leadership qualities all effective leaders share. Retrieved Sept. 18, 2023.
Approved by the dean of the College of Theology on Sept. 15, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.