Based on the Church Health Assessment you completed, leadership may be one area of needed growth for your church and/or church leadership. We believe that healthy churches are led by healthy leaders. To lead well, a church leader must pay careful attention to his or her own spiritual, mental/emotional and relational wellbeing. In the Explanation section below, you will find several important biblical foundations for the connection between church leadership and church health. Subsequent sections of this report will include SBTC Resources/Tools, Other Recommended Resources and Contacts. All of these are designed to help strengthen your church in the area of leadership. Please take time to read through this report and to share it with some key influential leaders in your church.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.” Hebrews 13:17
The pastor of a church will be called down on the floor of heaven for how he “kept watch” over the souls of the congregation. His calling is from God, and he will be held accountable by God for how he stewarded this calling. In a day when pastors are falling so publicly and so frequently, a church must give proper attention to the health of its leadership.
God has ordained that a pastor/elder (or group of pastors/elders) lead the local church. These pastors are a gift from God to the congregation. The congregation is to honor them, follow them and respect them. As no one person can effectively lead the entire congregation on his own, pastor(s) also enlist the help of other gifted individuals to fill certain ministerial roles or to lead specific ministry efforts. These individuals, though falling under the leadership supervision and authority of the senior pastor, are also to be respected by the congregation.
A healthy pastor will be a healthy team leader. Whether those team members are pastoral staff, ministry staff, or volunteers, he will gather around him people who are committed to the overall mission and are gifted in their specific areas of ministry leadership. Those individuals also build teams and mobilize the people to do the work of the ministry.
Healthy churches are led by healthy ministry leaders. A leader must constantly evaluate and address his or her spiritual health, physical health, mental/emotional health, family health, and leadership health.
Healthy church leaders walk closely with the Lord Jesus. They are regular in daily devotional rhythms and are sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The healthy church leader leads from the overflow of a healthy walk with God. This kind of overflow leadership is evidenced by the Galatians 5:22-23 fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because the leader is a real person with real problems living in a fallen world, he or she may not exemplify the fruit at its ripest in every passing moment. However, the fruit will generally be evident and increasing over time. Healthy leaders lead from the overflow of healthy spiritual rhythms.
The apostle Paul admonished those with sexual sin by writing, “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you . . . You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Although the instruction comes to us in the immediate context of sexual sin, it is no less applicable with regard to other self-destructive practices. Healthy leaders take care of their temporary tents while awaiting a more permanent dwelling from God. They steward their physical health with wisdom and care. They exercise. They eat right. They see their doctors regularly. They embrace their physical limitations. Healthy leaders pay careful attention to their physical health so they can bring their best to the table of God’s ministry assignment every day.
Ministry often feels like an emotional roller coaster. When church leaders do not pay attention to their own mental and emotional health, they put the whole church body in jeopardy. Solomon wrote, “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s emotions, than capturing a city” (Proverbs 16:32). Healthy church leaders understand that their emotions are their responsibility. They regularly receive counseling, coaching and/or mentoring to make sure they are dealing with the secret, hidden places of their lives. They take their mental health seriously, being attuned to those indicators that may raise concerns when stress is high or anxiety sets in. Healthy church leaders know they can either control their emotions or be controlled by them—and they put specific, contextual practices in place to intentionally choose the former.
A church leader’s family is his or her first ministry priority. Ministry in and through a local church begins with ministry in and through one’s own home. Church leaders should never sacrifice their families on the altar of Christian ministry. Paul wrote to young Timothy that both pastors and deacons are to manage their households competently (1 Timothy 3:4-5, 11-12). When someone is not leading well in his or her home, he or she cannot be expected to lead well in the church. The family of a church leader will not be picture perfect. But it should be a place where there is consistent evidence of hospitality, grace, self-control, discipleship, evangelism and the superintending peace of God. Unhealthy church leaders often bring unnecessary suffering upon their homes in the name of Christian ministry. Healthy church leaders understand that their home is their first priority in Christian ministry.
The healthy church leader is a student of leadership. He or she pursues academic achievement, ongoing education or independent study to sharpen the leadership skills with which God has entrusted them. A healthy church leader creates and facilitates an environment of humility, mutual respect and team-based ministry. Both ministry volunteers and paid staff enjoy working in the environment this leader maintains. Unhealthy leaders allow insecurity and selfish pride to govern their decisions and drive their conversations. Healthy leaders listen well, receive help and always pull the focus back to the mission. Unhealthy leaders hoard ministry. Healthy leaders equip, resource and release the saints for the work of ministry.
Church leader, are you healthy? Are you leading from overflow?
sbtc tools & resources
SBTC Leadership webpage A collection of resources, networks and connection points for various ministry-specific areas of church leadership.
SBTC Blog Articles are posted several times every month on topics relevant to church leadership.
Counseling Connections If you are a staff member at an SBTC church and you need help pursuing Christian counseling, email one of our Church Health and Leadership ministerial staff listed below to request financial assistance with a qualified biblical Christian counselor in your area.
How to Pastor a Baptist Church The biblical wisdom of a faithful, successful, retired SBTC pastor, T. C. Melton, on everything from church business meetings to relationship building.
Young Pastors Network A network of 200+ Texas pastors 40-years-old and younger who meet regularly for networking, fellowship, and skill sharpening.
Church Health and Leadership Podcast Whether you are vocational or volunteer in leadership at your church, tune into this biweekly podcast for relevant and timely discussions pertaining to church health and leadership. Hosted by Tony Wolfe and Jeff Lynn.
- Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence by Crawford W. Loritts
- High Impact Teams: Where Healthy Meets High Performance by Lance Witt
- The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero
- 15 Characteristics of Healthy Church Leaders by the Malphurs Group
- Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhoff
- Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp
- Annual SBTC EQUIP Conference Hundreds of breakout sessions every year providing training for all ministry vocational and volunteer leaders in the church.
- Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Find a qualified, biblical Christian counselor close to you.
- Reach out to one of your SBTC Church Health and Leadership ministry staff members to request leadership coaching or mentoring.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to one of the following contacts for encouragement, consultation or direction. It will be our joy to come alongside you as you lead your church to reach your community for Christ.
Jeff Lynn – email@example.com
Senior Strategist for Church Health & Leadership
Chuy Avila – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead Associate for SBTC en Español
Calvin Wittman – email@example.com
Associate for Church Health & Leadership (Preaching and Leadership)
Alex Gonzales – firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate for Church Health & Leadership (Bivocational Pastors)