‘Unmask’ is a risky word in the context of the ongoing pandemic because wearing a mask has become the new normal today. But ‘to unmask’ is essential to Christian leadership. Unmasked leadership is nothing but transparent leadership.
While it is crucial to have the vision of a leader, it is even more important to have the vision of a transparent leadership. For all Christian leaders, prominent or upcoming, whether pastors, teachers, evangelists or heads of institutions, organisations, groups, etc., it is imperative to be well acquainted with the Christian concept of transparent leadership.
One of the defining features of a good leader is the integrity of character in the face of temptation. Character is of eternal value; it lives and speaks even after a person’s death and can have a lasting impact, good or bad. Even a great leader like David succumbed to his lust for Bathsheba. Before David committed adultery, he was testified by God as a man after God’s own heart. Alas, David’s family and kingdom bore the brunt of his immoral conduct and he had to pay four-fold for it! David uses three words in his confession and forgiveness for adultery—sin, iniquity, transgression (Ps 32 and 51). These three words show how heinous this sin is before the eyes of God. So, leaders should take their moral life very seriously.
The foremost requirement to be a transparent leader is to follow Christ in His life and teachings. Though critics don’t hesitate in pointing fingers at Jesus’ character in regard to his women followers like Martha and Mary, history does not say that his opponents ever questioned his character. Otherwise that would have been an accusation, too, during his trial. Jesus was blamed for not following the Mosaic law of Sabbath and traditions of the Pharisees, for breaking ceremonial laws and for his open commensality with the gentiles/sinners, but never in his lifetime was he accused of any immoral act. Simon the Pharisee had no doubt about His character, rather he thought to himself that if Jesus truly were a prophet he would know that the woman weeping at his feet was an adulteress (Lk 7:39). When a woman was caught in adultery and brought to Jesus for judgment (John 8), Jesus questioned the character of all her accusers because He was himself irreproachable in His character.
His character was beyond reproach both before God and men. In Mathew 5:27–28, Jesus raised the standards about purity of heart when he gave a radically new meaning to adultery. Not just visible actions, but invisible thoughts should be holy before God. That was the new normal Jesus brought to the people for the first time.
If the leaders follow this concept, they can be looked up to by the people. Their leadership will have a greater impact in their societal and ministerial life. Integrity of character is indispensable for a fruit-bearing leadership.
Other than Jesus, Paul, the apostle, is one of the best role models for Christian leaders. He could say: “follow me as I follow Christ”. Like Jesus, Paul had many opponents who questioned his apostleship, his gospel and doctrine. He had many women associates in his ministry. But his opponents could not bring any reproach on his character. He was a unique leader with transparent character, therefore, had great impact in his ministry.
When leaders are godly, it is also likely that Satan attempts to trap them in his net of immorality. Lust of eye or flesh often weakens the leadership in various ways and destroys the ministry. So, Paul gives the mandate that a pastor or a leader should be husband of one wife. The reason behind this mandate is to keep the leader of the church morally sound in a polygamous and immoral world.
Today we see much masked leadership in churches, institutions, organisations. Many Christian leaders are not transparent in their life. Some have been embroiled in unethical activities like the religious leaders or gurus of other faiths. So, for many believers it is puzzling and becomes difficult to follow such leaders as their role model. Ministries are being ruined because of an individual’s mistake. Let the world persecute and blame Christian leaders for doing good; not evil.
Without any moral authority, a ministry becomes just a profession and does not further God’s mission. People join such ministries just for their livelihood. For Christian leaders to bring qualitative growth in the Kingdom of God, living a good moral life is indispensable. Leaders are kingdom builders; they can do it if their character is transparent. Our character can win people for Christ.
Jesus is the role model of every Christian, but the followers of Christ should also be role models to their fellow brothers and sisters. Some of these suggestions can help both leaders and followers in building a transparent leadership.
- Character development should be the prime focus in a ministry, especially for a leader.
- Examine a leader and select your role model in ministry. Don’t make someone your role model blindly without careful examination.
- Don’t be alone with a person of opposite sex in a room, closed or open, without any exception.
- It is not surprising that leaders are addicted to porn. Stay away from it. Once you enter into it, it’s hard to come out.
- Mobile phone or social media should not be a means of emotional intimacy with people of opposite sex for anyone in ministry.
- Married leaders should have high regard for their life partners and the unmarried ones should wait upon the Lord for their marriage to keep their character clean.
- Ministry is not just about livelihood. In some ministries the key leaders are not morally sound. Avoid working with them even if you are paid well.
- Adopt ‘prevention is better than cure’ policy in regard to lust. Just flee from it as Paul says to Timothy.
- Satan always projects that lust of flesh is essential to fulfilment in life, but it is just the opposite. Try your best to get out of lust. Don’t consider it as a minute thing and allow it to remain in you. It will grow in you and bring humiliating destruction.
- Neither overestimate yourself nor underestimate sin. Always be sober and vigilant. Temptation may come to anybody, great or small, at any time.
- Keep in mind that a bad name brings disrepute not only to the person involved in immorality, but also to God, society, ministry, church. Have that wider perspective. A good name is precious that lasts forever.
- Often a godly leader will be tempted by the devil for lust, but can overcome it by prayer with the power of Holy Spirit.