Robert Murray M’Cheyne often said to ministers “what your people need most from you is your personal holiness.” This flies in the face of so much church leadership talk. Because holiness doesn’t really get a mention does it? M’Cheyne is saying that the most important thing a leader needs is a holy, loving, Christ-like character. M’Cheyne was a Scottish minister who died in the 19th century. His last sermon was preached on Isaiah 60:1 – “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee”. He went home to bed sick, and died a week later. After his death they found a letter in his bedroom, here is a quote from it:
“I hope you will pardon a stranger for addressing you a few lines. I heard you preach last Sabbath evening, and your sermon brought me to Christ. It was not anything you said, but it was what you were as you preached. For I saw in you a beauty of holiness that I had never seen before. You were talking about the glory of our God resting on the Savior, and I saw the Savior’s glory resting on you. That brought me to Christ.”
The life and teaching of M’Cheyne shows that before being skillful, innovative or gifted, we as christian leaders, need to be holy.