As we continue to celebrate Pastor Appreciation Month, we want to highlight this article by Stephan Viars. It’s called “Leading with Integrity” and can be found in the new CSB Life Counsel Bible, done in partnership with New Growth Press. In this edited excerpt, we look at the 4 principles that help us lead with integrity. This article, and others like it, help pastors make sense of tough situations that arise in their church and how to handle them with care and biblical integrity.
4 Principles to Lead with Integrity
Principle 1: Establish a Relationship with the Greatest Leader
Paul describes a relationship with Jesus Christ that is real, intimate, and life-changing. Whether you have been a Christian for years or have just received Christ, you are personally related to the greatest leader of all time.
Jesus’s disciples called him “Master” (Lk 8:24), “Teacher” (Mk 4:38), and “Lord” (Mt 14:28). Hebrews 2:10 says that to bring “many sons and daughters to glory,” Jesus was made “the pioneer of their salvation.” He is our Leader.
Jesus’s words were filled with grace and power. His actions were characterized by compassion and authority. People from a variety of ethnic and economic conditions followed Jesus. Soon after he left this earth, the promised Holy Spirit was poured out on his followers, who experienced the power of God to change them and equip them (Jn 14:16–18), with the net effect that Jesus’s followers were accused of turning the world “upside down” (Ac 17:6).
Being in relationship with Jesus means that you are in Christ (Eph 1:4) and he is in you (Col 1:27). So you have the same Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline that filled him. You can humbly go to him acknowledging your utter inability to lead others in your own strength. But you can proclaim with Paul, “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me” (Php 4:13).
Principle 2: View Yourself and Others through the Lens of God’s Grace
Christ-centered leaders understand their relationship with God is all about grace (Eph 2:8–10). Followers of Jesus have been introduced by faith “into this grace in which we stand” (Rm 5:2). Your leadership potential is not simply the sum of everything you have done in the past. You are now standing knee-deep in the grace of God. God views you as his dearly loved child, and he will give you daily grace for whatever troubles and challenges you will face. We can rejoice that God chooses not to view us in light of our past failures, mistakes, and sins (Ps 103:12). That also helps godly leaders respond well to the failures and shortcomings of those they are trying to lead.
God’s grace enables with “gifts” that differ “according to the grace given to us” (Rm 12:6), directs us to serve sacrificially (2Co 8:9), and sustains us in our weakness so that his power should reside in us (2Co 12:9). Followers of Christ stand before God clothed in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Therefore we can choose to respond to those we are called upon to lead in a way that is similar to the way he chooses to lead us. It’s all about grace.
Principle 3: Seek to Glorify God
Our key passage in Romans 5 goes on to say that “we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (v. 2). Our desire is not to draw attention to ourselves but instead to live so that those we lead would see Jesus in us. To glorify God is to show others who he is. Seeing how we lead should help people better understand what he is like (Mt 5:16; 1Co 10:31).
Principle 4: Embrace Leadership Challenges
Paul ends this paragraph in Romans by explaining that we can even “boast in our afflictions” (Rm 5:3). Problems are always just around the corner. But you don’t have to run from challenges—you can embrace them.
These principles help leaders as they shepherd those they’ve been blessed to lead, and understanding these principles helps others push theoir leaders to grow. To learn more about leading with integrity and other difficult topics, be sure to get the CSB Life Counsel Bible today!