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Church Leadership: Character and Culture

Power for a church leader without a Christlike character leads to both spiritual abuse and breeds a toxic culture. In contrast, power for a church leader, with a Christlike character, contributes to cultural goodness, human flourishing, and the formation of character and virtue in others.

A Christlike character—formed and shaped by habits, history, conversations, worship, scripture, sacrament, song, time, and trials, and through walking with and the witness of the Holy Spirit—is the compass, the disposition of the heart, that produces fruit and guides moral and leadership decision making. A good character produces good fruit, contributing to a culture of goodness. On the other hand, a malformed character produces fruit that hurts others and contributes to a toxic culture.

Character is a more important facet of a church leader or the building of church teams than either competence or chemistry.

Character matters. It is a journey that continues through life and in the Christian story continues beyond the grave.

Characters grow and develop, shape and change. We are all in the process of becoming; we never arrive in the formation or deformation of our character. This means that with care, counseling, truth, accountability, repentance, and realignment, and by the grace of Jesus and the power of the Spirit, even those whose characters are deformed can be journey towards Christlikeness.

- Swales, 2024 although influenced heavily by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer.

If you would like to explore this more, see the book 'Pivot.'"


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