Being Leaders

by Aubrey Malphurs

Baker Books, 2003.

Biographical Sketch

The Malphurs Group is led by Dr. Aubrey Malphurs, who is also Professor of Pastoral Ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) in Dallas, Texas. Ordained in 1971, Dr. Malphurs planted his first church in 1972. He has also served as pastor of two churches in Dallas, Texas, while teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary. In 1997, he left the pastorate to fully devote his time to his professorship and The Malphurs Group.

Dr. Malphurs has ministered with CAM International, Christian Associates International and World Harvest Outreach, both in the US and in foreign countries, such as Russia, Finland, Latvia, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and France. He has been a consultant and seminar leader for the South Carolina, Texas, Florida, and California Baptist Conventions, as well as the Salvation Army, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and many others.
Malphurs holds an A.A. from the University of Florida, a B.A. from the Florida Atlantic University, and a Th.M., and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. [1]

Major Emphasis

The major emphasis of Being Leaders was upon becoming the kind of servant-leader that pleases God. Malphurs defined biblical leadership based upon Scripture and recent research. The author wrote, “Christian leaders are servants with the credibility and capabilities to influence people in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction.” He went on to say, “Christian leadership is the process whereby servants use their credibility and capability to
influence people in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction.”[2] The book’s eight chapters were devoted to the leader’s Core, Heart, Trustworthiness, Tools, Impact, Supporters, Context, and Task. Each chapter built momentum and the subject matter neatly evolved from who a leader is, into what a leader does.
Malphurs emphasized that servant-leaders cannot lead in a moral vacuum. Since influence is the greatest tool we possess how can we influence anyone if we are not displaying the character of Christ? No one wants to follow a man with low morals or slow faith. Along those same lines, Malphurs emphasized the necessity of recognizing scripture as divinely inspired. The leader must also rely on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for the enablement to perform the work of the ministry. Those two supernatural gifts, scripture and the Holy Spirit, must be fully utilized in order to have the kind of ministry that makes an eternal difference in the lives of our congregants.
In the chapter dealing with credibility, there were a couple particularly poignant facts. The first was the quote, “If you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message.”[3] People simply will not make a conscious decision to follow and untrustworthy person. That trust is usually not automatic, either. Trust must be earned. That leads to the second emphasis of this chapter which explains the pastoral stages. The first stage is the chaplain stage. The second is the pastor stage. And the third is the leader stage. How does a pastor move from the chaplain stage to the leader stage? The answer is through developing personal credibility.[4]
This author went a little further than some other authors who might have also stressed credibility. Malphurs went further by discussing how to regain lost credibility. Since there are no perfect leaders, Malphurs argued, all will lose some degree of credibility at some point over a bad decision. So what does a leader do when he makes a bad decision, starts a program that flops, or has a plan backfire? First, he should admit the mistake. Nothing can be more frustrating than for a leader to refuse to admit they were wrong. Mistakes cause us to lose credibility but refusing to acknowledge the mistake compounds the loss.
The second component to regaining lost credibility is to, not only acknowledge it happened, but take responsibility for it. Whoever was the recipient of your blunder should hear you take responsibility. Further, after admitting it happened and taking full responsibility, the wise leader will then apologize. The author maintains that it is amazing how far an apology will go. People are usually quick to forgive a truly repentant person.
Finally, after the apology two things remain. We must accept the consequences of our blunder and seek any corrective means at our disposal. Malphurs sums it up like this:

Recovering Lost Trust

  1. Admit
  2. Acknowledge
  3. Apologize
  4. Accept
  5. Act.[5]
In chapter five Malphurs emphasized the importance of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the four primary styles of leadership. Each of the four, Directors, Inspirationals, Diplomats, and Analyticals each have specific environments in which they work best. By knowing one’s leadership style and where that particular style best fits in, the leader can avoid serving in a place where failure is eminent.
The seventh chapter was particularly helpful for all of us who find ourselves ministering in the shifting sands of the twenty-first century. Our ministry context is rapidly changing even if we have been at the same church for thirty years. Malphurs helps us to understand this change and gave counsel on how to adapt to it. He also throws out our anchor of unchanging truth, those fundamental doctrines that remain unchanged. It was a brilliant juxtaposition of the shifting sand of time pictured against the backdrop of the firm foundation of our faith. Therefore I came away ready to shift my methods while tenaciously clinging to my message.
Even with the plethora of books on the subject of Leadership, this writer would highly recommend that you read Malphurs’ thoughts on the subject. It will be time well spent.

[2] Malphurs, 10.
[3] Ibid, 49.
[4] Ibid, 53.
[5] Malphurs, 69.

Marcus Merritt is an evangelism consultant with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Marcus Merritt
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