Have you ever delegated a responsibility to someone who didn’t follow through? Or who didn’t care to do it the way you wanted it done?
God has made pastors overseers of His flock. (By extension, this applies also to staff who assist the pastor.)
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.—Acts 20:28
Since the Holy Spirit has so entrusted us by delegating to us the responsibility to lead and serve His people, should we not be sure we are effective in this aspect of our role? That we are leading in a way that mirrors the heart of Christ for His people?
So what makes a leader an effective overseer? It is one who…
1. Recognizes Christ’s Ownership
When it comes to local church ministry, you must be convinced you are working with Christ’s purchased possession. It is His flock, which He “purchased with his own blood.”
This conviction draws two conclusions: First, when you recognize Christ’s ownership, you take your commission seriously. A leader who gives less than his best doesn’t just have a motivation problem; he has a spiritual problem.
Second, you recognize that you are accountable to the Lord. If He owns the flock (and He does), your oversight is in His stead. It is not given to you as an opportunity to build your name, platform, or reputation. It is given to you to lead those in your care as you promote and honor Jesus.
2. Accepts Responsibility
You must also be convinced that it is the Holy Spirit who put you in the position in which you serve. Acts 20:28 says, “over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.” When you know that your calling is of God, you will be able to embrace the responsibilities that come with it.
An overseeing leader who accepts responsibility will move forward with courage, faith, and a bias for action—courage to face the facts as they are, faith to believe God can use you to make a difference, and action to put feet to your faith.
3. Develops a Strategy
Plain and simple, overseeing requires planning. The leader who thinks he can be effective by just winging it, is mistaken. From sermon topics to Sunday school visits to setting personal and ministry goals, an effective overseer develops a strategy to accomplish the responsibilities he has been given by God.
Of course, implementing a strategy requires more than a pen and paper. It takes full engagement. Thus, an effective overseer not only plans ahead, but he fully engages in following through on the plans he believes are honoring to God.
4. Intervenes When Necessary
There are two parts to timely intervention: First, identify vulnerability in its earliest stages. Don’t wait until a small problem becomes a catastrophe. Learn to recognize early on where problems are likely to develop, and carefully monitor those areas.
Some of this comes with experience. Some of it comes from being wise enough to ask others who have experience. But either way, don’t ignore the early signs of something that is not going according to plan. Have checkpoints in place so you can identify early vulnerabilities.
Second, intervene as God leads you. Don’t know about a problem in your area of leadership and do nothing. But also, don’t do something in the flesh. Be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
5. Endures through Hardness
Years ago I heard a quote that has resonated deeply with me: “The furnace that forges leadership burns steadily, and this is particularly true among those charged with very large responsibility.”
Life is hard for everyone. But accepting the God-given responsibilities of leadership brings added difficulties. And this is not just the added burden of administration or the criticisms that come with it (although it includes that), but the added character refinement God brings into a leader’s life.
There will be seasons of burden bearing and seasons of trials. An effective overseer learns to trust the Lord and endure. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).
If God has given you an area of oversight, don’t figure you can just do your best and hope it all works out. Remember Christ is the owner of the church. Accept the responsibility He has given you. Prayerfully and purposefully develop a strategy to minister to the needs of those you serve. Stay engaged and be willing to adjust that plan as you go. And commit now to endure hardness along the way. Any moment of difficulty will be worth it all when “the chief Shepherd shall appear” and “ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4).