The Number One Quality for Leadership 01: Let’s Find Out What it Is.

If I asked you what is the most important quality necessary to be a leader, I may get several answers. I would imagine you are not at a level where you would think it was some sort of ability, like a charismatic manner or a good preaching gift.

So you would assume it was some character issue, and that is the truth. But which one? Actually, the quality has nothing to do with the people you lead and has everything to do with how well you can be led.

The quality is loyalty, often called faithfulness in the Bible. I have found over the years it is not the superstars who make the best pastors and elders and Deacons but the loyal. The disloyal make the worst leaders in the world. The worst leader in Heaven was Satan, the worst leader on earth was Judas.

Paul tells us that in stewards it is essential that the man is faithful (1 Cor. 4.2), it’s great for a leader to be friendly, but far more important that they are faithful. It’s great for a leader to be on fire, but faithful is so much greater. The greatest leaders are the most loyal people.

In the Spanish Civil War last century, there were four columns of troops about to attack Madrid.

The general was told you cannot beat a city with only four columns. The general said he had a fifth column, people inside the city and disloyal to the city! This gave rise to the phrase “fifth column”, disloyal people inside the organization working to destroy it.

Satan has his fifth column too, people inside the church or organisation disloyal to the leadership, and the culture and values of the organization. The combined effort of the Roman Empire, the Sadducees, King Herod and the Pharisees could not lay a hand on Jesus, but when Judas got involved they arrested Jesus in a day. Disloyal people inside the gates are far more dangerous than any enemy outside!

Satan does not find it easy to launch assaults at me from the outside, I am anointed, wise and live right. So Satan has to seduce people in the church to come at me. He has to find his modern day Judases.

It’s the same in any church or organization. You have to understand that loyalty is the essential quality for leadership. Nothing matters more.

Satan’s desire is to build a 5th column in every church out of disloyal, bitter, offended, two faced people. If those people are not dealt with wisely and firmly, they will destroy the church and satan will rejoice.

I have had to deal with disloyal people before and it is not easy. The purpose of this series of blog posts is to help you understand how loyalty works, and to help you walk in loyalty and also build loyalty into your people. I have taught on this before, but in this series I hope to capture the basics in one place.

We had to deal with a disloyal man in Tree of Life. He went from church to church in our family of churches and caused chaos. He lied, he treated people badly, and he did not have our heart. He went to another ministry but in the end they found out about him and removed him. He came back to us, and having the kind heart I do, I moved to take him back, but another pastor gave me a Scripture. The Scripture said:

10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. (Titus 3.10 and 11, NIV)

I realized what I had to do. Not let this person back in Tree of Life. That was not an easy decision for me at all. It’s not easy to take someone who you hope will turn out well, someone you love and want to help, and bless them: but I had to realize that this person just by being in our church was disruptive. The root of it all was disloyalty. They wanted their kingdom over God’s kingdom, they wanted their way over the Tree of Life Church way.

When Lot’s men were causing conflict to Abraham he sent them out. We cannot have churches of strife and dishonour. We cannot allow disloyalty to invade our churches. Disloyalty always ends up in murmuring, lying, slander, hatred and strife. We cannot allow these to continue. It’s like smoking kippers in a house, soon the whole house smells of kippers. Disloyal people infect the whole atmosphere of a meeting.

On of the reasons tbe UK has so many tiny churches is that we allow disloyal people to hang around and cause chaos. Secret home group meetings, people going to three or four churches hoping at least one of them will platform them, people who have no love for the pastor, the church, the church’s dream or culture. They pretend to love the church while trying to get what they want out of it, but it’s sheer hypocrisy. It is fake love.

If you are not with someone, you are against them. That’s not my words, that is the words of Jesus and we would do well to heed them. If someone is not for your vision but for their vision, they are causing di-vision in your ministry.

Now as a pastor you have two main responsibilities to your church. Firstly, to build a community that loves one another. Again, Jesus Himself said that if we love one another that we are truly His disciples. Having people around who do not love the church and are trying to use the church for their agenda will stop that flow of love like nothing else.

The second job as a pastor, as a good shepherd, is to lead people to green pastures and still waters. Green pastures is your feeding ministry, and still waters is your culture. Sheep won’t drink when the waters are choppy, but disloyal people love choppy water. They love stirring the pot, they love whispering, they love it when everyone is agitated. When these people cause drama, people will stay away from your church and go somewhere safer.

I know that to do what God has called me to do I need a team of people. In fact no one can walk in God’s dream for their lives without other people. You are not that amazing, you need a team. So make sure you have loyal team. And ultimately, I would rather work alone than work with disgruntled, angry, foolish, disloyal people who cannot work with me.

If someone is not for you, they are against you! Selah.

Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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