Of all the topics I read about on Christian Case Making (apologetics) blogs, I seldom find anyone writing about leadership. But this aspect of the Christian life, while it is often overlooked, is critical to our success as Case Makers. When we think about what’s required to be a good Christian Case Maker, we need to remember that leadership is key; we’ll never lead anyone to the truth unless we learn how to become good leaders, and leaders, by definition, have followers. It’s really as simple as that. You may not consider yourself much of a leader, but I bet someone is looking to you for answers in some aspect of your life. Are you a mom or a dad? You’re leading your kids. Are you the senior employee at your job? You’re leading the junior members. Are you the person people rely on for an answer in your group? You’re leading those who are less informed. If you’re living in community with others, you are inevitably leading (and being led). If you hope to make a case for Christianity, you need to identify those you lead and become a good leader:
Followers Respect Their Leaders
While it’s true that excellence often elevates people to positions of leadership, excellence alone is not enough. I’ve worked for many excellent detectives who were terrible leaders once they were promoted. Leadership takes more than excellence; in fact, excellence is the baseline to which all of us should aspire (leaders and followers alike). Respect, however, requires much more. Have you been demonstrating Christian character to those who look to you for answers? Leaders go first; do the people in your world see you as a servant? Are your conversations about Christian evidence seen as an effort to demonstrate your knowledge or an effort to serve them? Are your conversations focused on what you know, or are they focused on the people you hope to influence? Followers respect leaders who are selfless rather than selfish; they can “sniff out” people who are more concerned about status than service.
Followers Trust Their Leaders
If there’s one thing law enforcement will teach you about leadership, it’s that trust is key in difficult situations, and trust requires time. When push comes to shove, I want to align myself with leaders who have proven themselves over the long haul. I’ve seen them do it before and I trust they can do it again. As a Christian Case Maker, I sometimes find myself thinking that the only people I am called to reach are folks who come to a talk or conference session. Meanwhile, there are lots of people in my life who have an extended relationship with me. They know me beyond the sixty minute presentation. They already trust me, because they’ve known me for years. These are the folks that I am most able to reach, yet I seldom think of them as an audience to whom I am called. I bet you’re in a similar situation. There are people who already trust you; these are the folks you can reach with the truth.
Followers Listen to Their Leaders
I’ve had the privilege of working with leaders who commanded the attention of their followers. They didn’t have to try hard; we simply quieted down when they began to speak. We respected them. We trusted them. We listened to them. But no one’s going to listen to leaders who don’t make an effort to say something! Are there people in your life who are waiting for you to talk to them about Jesus? While I typically have no problem making a case for Christianity to strangers, it’s often far more difficult to make the case to my father or to friends whom I’m afraid of alienating. Yet these are the people with whom I have the deepest relationship. These are the folks who respect and trust me. I already have their attention, why am I afraid to speak?
If you’re like me, you may have underestimated the power of leadership. Make an assessment of your situation today so you can become a good leader. Do the people in your life think you’re more concerned about the argument than their well-being? Do they think you’re more concerned about building a blog audience or a ministry than you are about sharing the truth? Have you taken the time to develop the depth of relationship necessary to have a real impact? Do people trust you? And finally, are you bold enough to speak up and share the truth with people you sometimes take for granted? You’re already a leader in some aspect of your life; take the time now to lead someone to the truth.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, Christian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God’s Crime Scene, God’s Crime Scene for Kids, and Forensic Faith.