14 Traits of Effective Church Leadership

Synopsis: There are many great leadership traits to strive for and train in your church leaders. In this article, we take a look at 14 of the most essential attributes for effective church leadership. Do you recognize most of these within your own congregation and church managers?

Perfecting Effective Church Leadership

What makes an effective church leader? Is it the number of Bible verses they can quote? The number of sermons preached, or the global reach of their leadership?

If we look at examples of some of the world’s greatest church leaders, we see where effectiveness comes from: the depths of their heart. Plus, their ability to join heart-based faith with practical and logical leadership strategies.

As a pastor, you may need to ordain other leaders in the church and select volunteers. Or choose the right personalities to spearhead fundraising events. Knowing the individual’s effectiveness can also be key when growing donors. Particularly when you must assign certain leaders those fundraising or coaching tasks.

Below are 14 traits of effective church leadership to be aware of. This is not to say that every leader should possess all 14 of these traits. But it is a good list of qualities and values to look out for. They are essential leadership traits to strengthen and focus on when training your pastors and church servants.

1. Truthfulness

How honest is the leader in their communications? How high or low is their tolerance for dishonesty in other members of the congregation? This is one important hallmark of an effective leader. Their ability to stay true, loyal, open, and speak with God’s truth.

2. Loyalty

A loyal leader is first loyal to God, then to themself (their beliefs and faith). Lastly, to others in the church. They are not swayed by the times, the trends, or even the opinions of others. They seek to serve the greater good and only make decisions based on church principles and foundation.

3. Accountability

High-level commitment and grace under pressure are usually expected of most church leaders. They need to be held responsible and accountable for their actions – because whatever choices they make can affect the church as a whole.

The Accountable Leader takes this responsibility seriously, so they never make hasty, rushed decisions. Building effective church leadership means never choosing a path based on personal feelings or temperament.

4. Humility

Humility is a rare leadership trait that we are seldom trained to possess. But a true leader of the church realizes that all gifts and blessings, all talents and skills, come from above. They do not let the “praise of man” go to their head, nor will they seek the approval of the world. They stay humble, even when given adequate reverence and respect in the church. This is likely one of the most important traits a successful leader has.

5. Sharp Communication Skills

Good leaders are good listeners. Rather than just “preaching” the church sermon, they continue the conversation throughout the days and weeks. They remain in open dialogue with their congregation. They invite people to the church community — not to talk “at” them, but to communicate and connect on a deeper level of understanding.

6. Contentment

Good leaders can be content, as the apostle Paul noted, “In whatever state I am in” (Philippians Chapter 4). What he meant here was that, in any situation, he could find a way to be thankful, and happy. It did not mean he would never look for ways to better a situation — but that circumstances did not define him.

His happiness was not dependent on his material surroundings. This isn’t merely a trait to aspire to; it’s an absolute necessity for effective church leadership.

7. Self-Awareness

To lead others, a good leader must know themselves well. A good amount of daily introspection gives them insight so that they can have greater impact. Knowing where they need to improve and spiritually grow keeps them challenged and moving — flowing in the will of God, and in the service of the church.

8. Management Skills

Leaders must be able to manage groups of people to a certain extent. They do not have to do everything a manager does, as they hopefully have a team in the church to help them accomplish certain tasks. But ideally, they know how to motivate people, as well as ensure the mission goals are reached.

9. Vision

“Without a vision, the people perish,” Proverbs 29:18 tells us. As a leader, you will find that the people often lack vision. In fact, this is why they need you as a leader: to keep the vision, help them stay inspired, point the way to the goal and mission targets. A good pastor can identify great opportunities even in the bleakest of mission fields. They then have the skills to convey their vision clearly, inspiring others to reach the stars.

10. Courage

People often look to heroes for their bravery and strength. As a church pastor, this does not mean you must be physically strong, but your heart must have enough sinew to face the hard times and lead through them. The courage you possess must come from a faithful study of God’s word and experience in meeting those challenges with faith.

11. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand a person’s feelings by imagining being in their place, in their shoes. It means a deeper understanding of why folks do what they do. Effective pastors are able to empathize as well as rationalize a situation, putting themselves in another’s place to understand them. Leaders who have this trait are often loved by their followers.

12. Initiative

Effective leaders don’t wait for the right opportunity to arise: They see a need and go to meet it with an answer. They also don’t expect senior pastors in the church to tell them what to do and how to serve every day. They are able to visualize the mission goals and create solutions. For example, fundraising events, new ways to grow donors, or the use of technology for greater effectiveness in the church.

13. Full of Faith

The best leaders in the church may not be the most eloquent, or the most physically attractive. What makes people look to them for spiritual guidance and direction? This often has to do with the level of faith they possess: faith in God to provide, faith in their people to give them greater responsibilities, faith in a positive outcome or deeper meaning to every situation. And as we know from Scripture, “Faith comes by hearing the Word.” (Romans 10:17) These pastors make sure to grow their donors and church members in Faith by directing them always to the Word of God, and not just their own wisdom.

14. Integrity

This is one of the most important of the great leadership traits. Leaders who want to strive for more integrity should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Am I accountable for my behavior?
  • Do I take full responsibility for the decisions I make?
  • Am I willing to accept responsibility, even for my mistakes? And, am I willing to communicate vocally to my church that I made a mistake?
  • Am I setting a good example for the donors and sponsors of the church?
  • Can I always follow through on my commitments?
  • Do I strive to build trust and unity in the church?

Starting with these basic questions allows for deeper self-reflection and a leader mindset. Notice that the questions above relate to the trait of humility. A leader cannot expect others to follow their example without being willing to humble themselves enough to admit their faults and shortcomings.

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.—Matthew 20:26

In the above Scripture, Jesus was admonishing his disciples to remember their mission of giving and serving. He wanted to understand that greatness in leadership was rooted in humility and service.

Remember that understanding yourself as a leader is an essential step to becoming even better at the important responsibility of leading others and growing donors.

At DonorWerx, we provide comprehensive tools for leaders in the church. These include both digital platforms for your church management and resources for training pastors or growing donors. Our e-books and products have helped pastors all over the world to reach their mission goals more effectively. Call us today to find out how we can help you serve your church better.

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