The Four Leadership Types
Leadership is expressed through a person’s particular inclination and passion. This expression often takes shape and form in common leadership types. During times of great change (which we refer to as Transition), there are four main types we are focused on: pastor, poet, prophet and apostle. Other types of leadership such as administrator or evangelist, should also be present in a healthy system, but for our purposes here we are concentrating on these four.

Although each leader may at times share characteristics of each of the four types, most people tend to associate strongest with one type. This is referred to as your Primary Type. In addition, the assessment may pick up a secondary association which is not as strong as the primary type. This is referred to as your Secondary Type. Keep in mind that this assessment is not addressing one's psychological, emotional or spiritual orientations, nor is it saying anything about how accomplished one is in expressing her or his Leadership Type.

The following paragraphs briefly describe each of the four types and highlight a few common characteristices of each type.

Leader as Pastor

The continuing need in congregations is to order the life of the community, to take care of the people of God in all their ongoing needs. In a period of major change and transition the need for stability in systems becomes very high. The traditions of the organization become a primary focus of the congregation's life. We are familiar with the high levels of tension that can be created inside congregations between those who want change and those who seem to want to turn back the clock. And yet across the differing generational perspectives there is this ongoing need for some form of stability in tradition. Unless this is present in a congregation there is little chance of a successful transition process. The creation and communication of stability and tradition has been and continues to be the work of the pastor.

Here are some characteristics of the pastor type.

  • Care for the daily, regular needs of the believing community.
  • The ability to organize and administer the community's life
    for it's health, nurture and continuity.
  • The capacity to represent in their person and role a strong
    presence of stability.
  • Can ably communicate the transformative and healing powers
    of the community's tradition.
  • Is directed toward the visitation of the sick, the equipping of the body, and the encouraging of the gifts because they are highly committed to creating a community of stability and vitality from within the tradition.
  • Their energies are directed toward the inner life of the
    whole community.
  • They want to create safe environments in which the members of the community can grow and find a place of belonging.
  • They get great satisfaction putting into place structures and
    systems to help people feel they belong and a re cared for in
    a community of continuity.
  • They have the capacity to create, nurture and be energized by an
    extensive set of relational connections with a large number of people
    in a congregation.
  • The elements of Christian identity and formation are of central
    importance in shaping the ongoing life of the community.
Leader as Apostle

During times of change, there is an increasing need to move in the direction of the God’s new future. The Apostle is the leader type that leads efforts forward into the world and the church’s missional future.

Here are characteristics of the apostolic type.

  • A clear sense of calling, mission, strength, and urgency,
    all directed to the active creation of a new future.
  • They are drawn to planning strategies that get the church
    into the world.
  • They seem to have a clear sense of what God wants done
    in the mission of the church.
  • The apostle envisions and implements practical ways to
    engage new opportunities.
  • They call the church outward to engagement with the culture.
  • They have an unshakable faith in God’s emerging future.
  • What makes the apostle different from the prophet is the ability to implement vision. There is a plan and a direction.
  • They believe that the elements of Christian life are to be shaped around the call of God to be a missionary people.
  • They believe that the place of leadership is out front, pointing
    to and engaged in the new opportunities for mission.
  • They are energized when the church is moving outward
    and engaging their context.
  • Their passion is to see every Christian engaged in vital mission.
  • They are big picture organizers who don’t like stopping for detail.
Leader as Poet

People need help coming to terms with their experiences of change. They need someone who can listen and bring to verbal expression what they are actually feeling. This is the poet’s role.

Here are some characteristics of the poet type.

  • They love to connect people’s confusion and struggle with the stories of God’s purposes in Scripture so that they can see things differently.
  • Poets call forth that which is hidden.
  • They listen, giving words, images and experiences that
    help people see things differently.
  • They don’t criticize nor judge but bring God’s story into
    the reality of people’s longings and pain.
  • Poets listen beneath the surface levels of the attractive and
    trendy changes in the culture and the church.
  • They focus on people touching the feelings and inner drives
    forming their lives.
  • Poets are not strategists with solutions or plans.
  • Poets take time, they immerse themselves in the multiple stories of
    the culture understanding their power and critiquing their claims.
  • They use words with reverence, get immersed in everyday particulars, spy out the glories of the commonplace, warn of illusions, attend to the subtle interconnections between rhythm and meanings and spirit.
  • They work with the question: How can I help people to see differently?
  • They stimulate, give hints, paint pictures, and create imaginations
    that run counter to the dominant ideologies.
Leader as Prophet:

In time of change, the church needs to reconnect with Scripture in order see their context through the lens of God’s story.

Here are some characteristics of the prophet type.

  • The prophet wants to see the church shaped by
    God’s kingdom vision for the world.
  • They are drawn to the speaking the Word into the cultural context.
  • Hearing what God is saying about being a biblical people
    is of the highest importance.
  • They want the church to recognize its captivities to our culture
    and discover a more radical, biblical way of life.
  • The prophet wants to move people toward a vision of how
    God is shaping them in the midst of Transition.
  • The prophet brings that Word that comes from the outside and
    addresses the people with a fresh sense of direction.
  • They thrive in the world of vision and a big picture of the future,
    they find it hard to spend much energy in the here and now.
  • Planning and strategy are secondary to vision and creating
    new futures.
  • They are future directed, the immediate is a gateway to tomorrow.
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