John Stott – a true servant leader

John Stott, who died yesterday aged 90, has been arguably one of the most influential leaders in the global church over the last decade.

He was a genuine example of humilty and graciousness, with a razor sharp mind and an incredible influence, yet was also someone who shunned rather than seized the limelight.

With Billy Graham, Samuel Escobar, Francis Shaeffer and others he helped bring about the Lausanne Congress in 1974, bringing together (evangelical) church leaders from over 150 countries. He was the architect of the resulting Lausanne Covenant which sought to unite the church globally in the global mission of God.

Stott was clear and unwavering in his commitment to pursuing biblical truth yet did so in a gracious and nuanced manner, often suspending judgement until he had sufficient understanding of the issue in hand.

Committed to the church engaging with culture and being a transforming influence he set up the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity in 1982. His involvement with students through IFES, integral mission through Tearfund and conservation through Arocha demonstrate the breadth of his understanding of how the gospel works out in every sphere of life.

His commitment to the global church is not only demonstrated through the Lausanne Movement but also through founding the Langham Partnership which was created to see majority world churches equipped for mission and to develop mature followers of Jesus through a focus on training pastors and preachers.

Stott has been a true servant leader in his desire to equip the church to play its part in the Mission of God, and especially in his many efforts at creating unity. Yet he remains a person who didn’t seek the limelight, a man of undoubted integrity and humility who insisted that a collection of tributes published in honour of his 90th birthday display the ‘warts and all’.

I leave you with some of his concluding comments from his book on leadership from 1 Corinthians 1-4, Calling Christian Leaders: Biblical Models of Church, Gospel and Ministry""

It is my firm conviction there is too much autocracy in the leaders of the Christian community, in defiance of the teaching of Jesus and his apostles, and not enough love and gentleness. too many behave as if they believed not in the priesthood of all believers but the papacy of all pastors. Many of the cultural models of leadership we are shaped by are incompatible with the servant imagry taught and exhibited by the Lord Jesus…

…my prayer is that Christian leaders who peruse these pages may be characterised above all else by what the apostle Paul called the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2 Cor. 10.1).

It is fair to say these words are characteristic of how Stott served and led.

Read Stott’s obituary in the Guardian, or visit the memorial site.
Download his talk ‘Call to Christian Leadership’ given in 1983 at Regent College, Vancouver free.


2 thoughts on “John Stott – a true servant leader

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