It’s because we are weak in the doctrine of vocation. Consequently, the way many churches are run does not develop or attract leaders.
This is not to say there are no good leaders in the church. Quite the contrary. But it is to say that it is often extra hard to become a good leader within the context of a vocation that is structurally connected to the church.
These words, from a book I read a few years ago on marketplace ministry, are worth pondering:
As a whole, the modern church has not created nor attracted strong leaders. Meanwhile, the marketplace attracts and produces leaders by the truckload.
Gifted leaders gravitate to opportunity, challenge, and learning environments offered by businesses. They are repelled by the small vision, autocratic leadership [take note — I think this is more common in the church than we realize!], lack of objectivity, chaos and foolishness that characterize many church environments.
The best leaders avoid the political environment as well because of its small-mindedness, blind ambition, dishonesty and inability to address real issues [again, note that he is speaking in generalities]. In church and politics, there is often little recognition or reward for effective leadership. But in business, leaders find their natural environment. They are almost always welcomed, rewarded, groomed, and given opportunity.*
This doesn’t need to be the case. Business should and will always be a natural environment for developing leadership. But the church can and should be as well.
If you read the Old Testament, in some sense leadership is a major theme that runs throughout. The judges and kings of Israel were leaders, and we have example after example of good leadership and bad leadership.
Further, God says in Jeremiah 3:15 that he will give the church “shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and insight.” This is in contrast to the shepherds that scatter God’s people and rule them harshly and for their own personal benefit (Jeremiah 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34).
Again, I’m not saying that the church has completely failed in developing leaders. There are many, many solid pastors and other leaders throughout the church. But I am saying that we haven’t done nearly as good a job as we can — and should. We need to do better. And, perhaps, it is actually prophesied that this will continue to happen more and more (Jeremiah 3:15; Isaiah 32:1-2).
The key to doing better is to recover the doctrine of vocation. Ironically, by recognizing the value of all vocations before God, we gain the framework for understanding what effective leadership really looks like in the church and how to develop it better.