Convictions of a local church leader

What does it take to serve as a local church pastor or leader? In a word: conviction. The Christian leader is driven by the convictions that give all of life its meaning. (Al Mohler) [1]. Below are eight convictions of a Christian leader:

1. A conviction of God’s love for you in Jesus Christ. We see this conviction in Paul’s life: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) Paul experiened plenty of hardship.  He was shipwrecked, imprisoned, flogged, stoned, and left for dead, yet his conviction of Jesus love for him, kept him going, and made him willing to live and die for Christ.

It is heaven to serve Jesus….If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, even lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in Him. These forty years and more have I served Him, blessed be His name! And I have had nothing but love from Him. I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased Him. (Charles Spurgeon)

2. A conviction of the authority and power of God’s word.  In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

In the face of immense pressure, Martin Luther was driven by his conviction in the authority of the word of God:  Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe: Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen. (Martin Luther) 

3. A conviction of the power of the gospel. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.(Romans 1:16)

I have long worked out before your very eyes the experiment of the unaided attractiveness of the gospel of Jesus. Our service is severely plain. No man ever comes here to gratify his eye with art, or his ear with music. I have set before you, these many years, nothing but Christ crucified, and the simplicity of the gospel…we have proved successfully, these many years, this great truth, that the gospel plainly preached will gain an audience, convert sinners, and build up and sustain a church. (CH Spurgeon).

4. A conviction of God’s love for the local church. Paul shows his conviction of the significance of the local church, when he charges the Ephesian elders with these words: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28) He’s referring to an ordinary local church, the church at Ephesus, and he calls it, God’s church, Jesus church, the church he bought with his own blood.

Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect … Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us… the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, need all the help they can derive from … their fellow Believers. The Church is…the fold for Christ’s sheep—the home for Christ’s family. (Charles Spurgeon)

5.  A conviction that God in his grace is growing you in the characteristics required for those who serve as church leaders. (1 Tim 3; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Pet 5:1-4). This conviction should be confirmed and attested to by godly leaders and those in your local church.

6. Strong conviction in God’s sovereignty – a belief that God can use the hardships of ministry (even when others intend evil against you) for your ultimate good (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:31-32). Most pastors will not regularly preach to thousands, let alone tens of thousands. They will not write influential books, they will not supervise large staffs, and they will never see more than modest growth. They will plug away at their care for the aged, at their visitation, at their counseling, at their Bible studies and preaching. Some will work with so little support that they will prepare their own bulletins. They cannot possibly discern whether the constraints of their own sphere of service owe more to the specific challenges of the local situation or to their own shortcomings. (Don Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, 9)  Free pdf

7. A conviction that Christ alone is worth serving wholeheartedly. Whatever you call it, whatever the variations in human personality, there must be a servant heart, a single-eyed devotion to Christ that wholeheartedly desires to serve  Jesus the Lord and His church in this way…Very few ministers serve large, thriving churches. If that is your vision of what is ahead, discount it. God may open up such formidable doors of opportunity; but you cannot count on it, and it must form no part of your decision. The overwhelming majority of pastors serve relatively small and unprepossessing churches. Many of them are called on to do what no amount of money could ever reimburse them for …burying a child dead of cancer at the age of nine months; presiding over a church broken up by angry and powerful members who show nothing of forbearance or grace (or even good sense). Out of the heat of these and countless other impossibly difficult circumstances, a heart for ministry (in the old sense of that word)  is confirmed.  Read through Paul’s epistles rather rapidly in three or four sittings  and observe that it was his relations with Christians that gave him the greatest pain. Should you end up in vocational ministry, your experience will not be any different. (Don Carson, Letters along the way, 136)  Free pdf

8. A conviction of the ultimate judgement. I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ, at his judgment-seat, you will think you have had enough (John Brown, cited in a Display of God’s Glory, 42) Free pdf

[1] Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters


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