Cosmetic Leadership

A Guest Post by Phil Brooks

Out of pure curiosity, I researched the definitions of “cosmetic”, with the assistance of my two friends, Merriam and Webster. “Making for beauty” was among the first of definitions, followed by “made for the sake of appearance” and “not substantive: superficial”. Last, but not least was probably my favorite, “visually appealing.”

How, then, should I define “Cosmetic Leadership”? I think many, if not most, would agree the term “beautiful leadership” would hardly roll off our tongues. Nor would we equate the act of leadership (effective leadership, anyway) with appearances, being superficial, or visually appealing. Yet I would argue the concept of Cosmetic Leadership does indeed exist. It can be found in corporate America. It’s been spotted in non-profit organizations. It’s even alive and well in the church.

Cosmetic Leadership is not genuine, effective, servant leadership. It lacks humility. It lacks a servant heart. It’s selfish. The individual is valued more than the team. Cosmetic Leadership gives the appearance of being a leader of a group or organization. But a look below the surface reveals an individual who is enamored with title, power, or popularity, but lacking in the true ingredients of genuine, effective leadership.

My former manager recently shared a story with me. As part of a reorganization, his position in the Atlanta office was replaced by someone at corporate. His role was to transition the software development team to his replacement. During their first meeting, “Chris” (not my former manager’s real name) began by naming the individuals who make up the software development team. The new manager abruptly interrupted Chris. “I don’t need to know their names.” Are you kidding me?!? He didn’t need to know the names of the people who report to him? This, to me, is one classic example of cosmetic leadership.

King Saul was another example of cosmetic leadership. In 1Samuel 8 Israel demands a king to reign over them. The prophet Samuel entreats the Lord, and God yields to their demands, giving Samuel a play by play of what their new “leader” would do. “This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take... (1 Samuel 8:11), He will take... (verse 13), He will take... (verse 14), He will take... (verse 15), He will take... (verse 16), He will take... (verse 17). And that’s exactly what he did, and he still wasn’t satisfied. When the anointing shifted from Saul to David, he wanted to take David’s life! Saul, though he was King, was very cosmetic in his leadership. He thought only of himself, pushing his own agenda, and using his “followers” for his own benefit, caring for no one’s needs but his own.

Contrast that with David, who, while not yet king, is running for his life from King Saul, and he has people 26

willing to follow him! He’s living in caves and mountains with very little to sustain him, and yet when it was discovered that David escaped to the cave of Adullam, “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:2-3). David cared for the people. He provided for them. He cherished them. As a result, they wanted him to lead them. His influence was so powerful and effective that merely one chapter later, his team has grown to six hundred men (1 Samuel 23:13).

Cosmetic leadership is not God’s plan for leaders in His kingdom. If you’re going to be great, you’re going to serve. If you want to be first, you have to be willing to come in last. Sacrifice is a foreign concept in the realm of cosmetic leadership, yet we are called by God to present ourselves as living sacrifices. “David went on, and grew great, and the Lord of hosts was with him.” (2 Samuel 5:10). God’s hand was upon the genuine leader, not the cosmetic one. King David left a legacy. King Saul did not.

I’ve heard it said, everything rises and falls on leadership. And I believe it to be true. Under cosmetic leadership, the safe money says things fall. Under genuine, servant, team focused, effective leadership, things have a tendency to rise. If you have any doubts about that, search the scriptures and see it for yourself.


Phil Brooks is a proven soul winner and innovative church leader with extensive ministry and leadership training. As a licensed minister with the United Pentecostal Church, Phil experienced a variety of notable ministry successes as an innovative youth pastor, ministering at high school and middle school Bible clubs, and launching community based urban outreach ministries including Talk4Teens and Summer of Service. Phil also brings a wealth of knowledge in the areas of training and leadership development. Phil lives in Charlotte, NC and is the proud father of two sons.

Why Teach Home Bible Studies?

By Phil Brooks


“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” Acts 10:44-46


Why teach home Bible studies?    Why not?


Besides, didn’t Jesus command us to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”? (Mark 16:15)


My 20+ years of ministry has seen a wonderful harvest of souls throughout the years, primarily through home Bible studies.  I didn’t begin winning souls through Bible study because I had a burden.  It wasn’t because I had a passion.  It wasn’t because I had the gift of soul winning.  It wasn’t even because Jesus told us to do it.


I did it because my Pastor, Rev. R.E. Libby, was doing it, and he implored us as saints to do so.  I watched and listened as his personal Bible study group grew because he was intentional about teaching the word of God to lost souls.  Sitting on a pew one Sunday, I realized, by the help of the Lord, that it was time for me to stop warming pews and get about the business of the Kingdom: Reaching the Lost.


What makes home Bible studies so effective?  It’s the opportunity to sit one on one with an individual (or with a group) in the comfort of their environment and share the truths of God’s word with them.  There’s no rush.  There’s no pressure.  They can ask questions.  And, most importantly, they get to absorb.  Absorb what?  The Christian lifestyle in action.  (I learned that from Bro. Cornwell.)  It’s an opportunity to let your light shine while sharing the gospel.  They don’t just get to HEAR it.  They get to SEE it.  There’s a rubbing off from student to teacher that slowly begins to take place.  God’s spirit is working to awaken them to His power and grace.  Eventually the hunger and thirst moves them to action and conversion takes place.


It’s amazing that in Acts 10:44-46, Jesus sent a preacher to the house of Cornelius to teach a Bible study to a hungry soul, that soul being Cornelius.  But there were many more gathered than Cornelius, for we see in verse 27 that as Peter talked with him, “he went in and found many that were come together.”  Peter wasn’t exactly up on the rooftop in Joppa praying for a Bible study to teach.  The Bible study was Jesus’ idea.  Peter simply needed to be obedient.  The end result is that “many” souls were born again of the water and Spirit because one man taught a Bible study.


My most memorable Bible study experience happened on the campus of Morgan State University in the city of Baltimore.  I was invited by a student who I’d attended church with in Gaithersburg, MD to answer some questions one of his suite mates had about the Bible.  Since I lived across the street from the campus, it was nothing to go and attempt to answer this young man’s questions.  After some time, I offered to teach him a Bible study.  The next night, I showed up, ready to teach.  To my surprise, he’d invited a friend.  After a tough hour of teaching and answering questions, the young man looked at his friend and made this statement, “We need this more than once a week!”  By the time the group had finished growing as a result of that first lesson, I was teaching 20-25 students in the conference room of the dorm building!  Souls were being baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost.  They were coming to church.  They were bringing their friends.


All of this happened because I taught a Bible study!


The church is a people business.  The music, facilities, multimedia presentations, technology, and all the other resources we use to enhance the Sunday morning experience are a mere backdrop to the main event; reaching the lost.  When the music fades and the lights go dim after service is ended, there is still work to do.  In our school, on our jobs, in our neighborhoods, there are people waiting for us to bring the word of God to them.  How we do it doesn’t matter.  It could be over coffee.  It might be during halftime of a football game.  Maybe it’s in a high school classroom.  Where doesn’t matter.  When doesn’t matter.  If you want to influence people, one soul at a time, Bible study is the way to do it.



Phil Brooks is a proven soul winner and innovative church leader with extensive ministry and leadership training. As a licensed minister with the United Pentecostal Church, Phil experienced a variety of notable ministry successes as an innovative youth pastor, ministering at high school and middle school Bible clubs, and launching community based urban outreach ministries including Talk4Teens and Summer of Service. Phil also brings a wealth of knowledge in the areas of training and leadership development. Phil lives in Charlotte, NC and is the proud father of two sons.

Notes from MC16...

At the very start of the conference we held a Pre-conference Luncheon during which we discussed leadership and evangelism. Before we heard from the speaker for the session, we talked about some practical, nuts and bolts leadership rules of thumb or best practices to use during problem solving meetings.

We are kidding ourselves if we think problems in our church will just go away. They won't. We have to know how to deal with problems in such way as to get the best possible result and move forward. How? Here are some great guidelines to follow:

  1. Pray earnestly for direction. 
  2. Only invite the minimum number of people to participate. 
  3. No one participating by conference call... it changes the tone of the proceedings.
  4. A very structured agenda to prevent conversation creep. You are only here to do one thing.
  5. All the needed data provided to all attendees, in advance, in writing.
  6. At least one person, perhaps the host, should have a point of view about what the best course is, but anyone who comes should only be invited if they are willing to change their position.
  7. Agree on the structure of a deliverable solution before you start.
  8. Deliver on that structure when you finish.

This list was borrowed from Seth Godin and we've added what we believe is most critical to getting the results we need, namely prayer.

If there are no problems in your church, we rejoice for you! For the rest of us, we hope implementing these guidelines will help us move forward exponentially in accomplishing the mission of the Church.


intentional authenticity

A Guest Post by Dexter Gordon

One of the most effective tools of strategic discipleship is intentional and authentic leadership. Jesus mirrored the meaning of being intentional and authentic in the provoking of the disciples and staying true to his purpose. This set the stage for us today to walk in His footsteps. So, why reinvent the wheel?

Being intentional is simply being deliberate, focused and consistent. While authentic is being original, unique or genuine. The intentional and authentic nature of Jesus contributed to his effectiveness as a true discipler.

Even his enemies knew that Jesus would never misrepresent himself. After he had been arrested, mocked, and beaten, Jesus was brought before the council leaders and elders. Luke records the conversation that transpired: “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You are right in saying I am” (Luke 22:67-70). Even in the face of criticism, Jesus remained shamelessly authentic. There was also no false pretense in the life of Jesus. When he was sad, he wept; when he felt compassion, he healed the multitudes. People who interacted with Jesus knew where they stood with him. A centurion asked Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant, and Jesus said in Matthew 8:10, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” When Peter told Jesus that he would never be killed, Jesus cried out, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). Jesus called it as he saw it, because he was intentional to his purpose and authentic in his leadership. Often times, unbelievers expect the worst from disciples of Jesus. They watch us, waiting for us to make a mistake or to mess up, as to add validity in their thoughts that Christians are fakes and frauds. We often foster that notion among unbelievers that “believers” are insincere and disingenuous. But we must realize we are not here to prove our calling, but here to make disciples. With all of our own faults, shortcomings and failures; we must recognize the need for fellowship with other disciples of Jesus. We need the mentorship, support, and encouragement from others. We can no more follow Jesus in isolation, than we than we can play football by ourselves! We must live by “The ISI Concept” (Iron Sharpens Iron) and show authenticity in our discipleship process. If we mirror our lives after the intentional authenticity of Jesus, by being deliberate and genuine at the same time in every instance, we too will gain the respect of others despite any theological disagreements. Our authentic lifestyle will encourage others to be like us and follow the plan of Jesus. Let’s be intentional and let’s be authentic as a leader should be.

Mentoring... part 2

By James Holland

Examples of Mentorship

Joshua is a great example of the product of a good mentor. Exodus17:9-11 gives us some insight into his life. Joshua was not only a good leader; he was also a good follower. Moses mentored Joshua. Joshua was a warrior and a man of courage. Joshua was willing to receive instruction. He understood spiritual authority. Joshua was always just a few steps behind Moses. Moses never had to look for Joshua or wonder where in the world he was. He was there!

The story of Elijah and Elisha is another great example of mentorship. Look at II Kings 2. Elisha was being trained to continue the work of God and in an even greater way than Elijah. The mantle of Elijah was laid upon Elisha. The mantle of God in our lives is never to be hung upon the wall of our lives as trophy. It is to be passed on. Mentorship secures the fact that God’s work will continue on from one generation to another. We must not just be great leaders; we must continue to produce great leaders!

Jesus – The Great Example

As a mentor we are building people. We need to make sure that we are depositing some good in someone each day. Give them a personal challenge. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” He is simple saying “Don’t waste your life; make it count!” Give to those whom you are mentoring confidence. Romans 15:1 says, “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in faith.”

We all need confidence. When you know that someone believes in you, it brings out your best. Jesus did this with Peter. Peter’s name, Petros, meant “pebble.” Yet, Jesus said, “Pebble, you are going to be a Rock! I am giving you a new name.” When Jesus said that to Peter, the future apostle was anything but a rock. He was mister foot-in-mouth. But Jesus didn’t tell him what he was, but rather told him what he could be. He gave him confidence to live up to his potential. Jesus also helped Peter through his time of failure. Everybody has times of failure, simply meaning that things don’t turn out like you had hoped.

When you know that
someone believes in
you, it brings out your

William Arthur Ward wrote, “Failure is not fatal. Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. It should challenge us to new heights of accomplishments, not pull us down to new depths of despair. From honest failure can come valuable experience.”

When Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to accompany Him to the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer, all three failed in their pursuit of prayer. This was the one time Jesus was really depending upon them. Yet, we see in Matthew 26:46 how Jesus responded to their failure. Jesus said, “Rise, let us be going.” He is simply saying, “Even though you didn’t handle this properly, there is much to do in order for my will to be done. So let’s be going.” Don’t waste days, weeks, months or even years over a failure. God has a will for our lives.

Keep giving honest counsel to those whom you are mentoring. Proverbs 27:6 says, “A friend means well even when he hurts you.” As leaders, we need to be strong enough to receive honest counsel, even when it is painful. If, however, you are a mentor who is always pointing out faults, you need to stop. Proper correction is a powerful tool. Yet, it can be a dangerous tool if used the wrong way. The main difference between the right way and the wrong way to correct is attitude.

As a mentor, when we correct someone, the purpose has to be just - to correct - not to condemn. We must ask ourselves, “What is my motive in this? Am I correcting them for my benefit or for their benefit?”

Many times we simply want to correct people just because they are acting like a jerk and giving us a difficult time. Yet, if we correct them only for this reason and not because they are not doing their best, then we have the new wrong motive. Ephesians 4:15 says, “Speak the truth in love.” Love means giving people what they need rather than what they deserve. The key to proper correction is to affirm the person and correct the behavior. This is what Jesus always did.

Give them full credit. Jesus said to Peter, “I give you the keys to the kingdom.” And again, “When thou art converted, strengthen the brethren.” It’s human nature to want to share the blame while keeping the credit. Yet God says the mark of maturity is to accept the blame and share the credit.

Jesus also taught us to build people off their strengths and not their weaknesses. He could see the strengths in people that they did not even know they had. To those who followed Jesus, his mentoring brought them maturity, trust, responsibility, and relationship. They went on to make such an impact upon their world and God’s kingdom. You might be mentoring a twenty-first century Peter or John right now. There is only one way you will ever know. Continue on doing the will of God, sometimes with tears in our eyes, in spite of bruises, cuts and scrapes, climbing over the mountains, betrayals and some failures we must continue on. Jesus has called us to do so.

An excerpt from the book Developing the Ministry Within You by James Holland
Rev. James Holland is a pastor, teacher and conference speaker. He is also involved in leadership training. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He and his wife Shirline live in Glenville, GA where they have been serving as pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church for over twenty years.


By James Holland

Mentoring is instruction by example.

 In Mentoring, we come along beside of someone. Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Sometimes our lives and schedules become so hectic that we don’t have a lot of time to spend with people. This is a major problem within the household of faith today. Many of us have lots of acquaintances but few friends – even in the church. In Biblical time, they went out, won people, took them in, and began mentoring and teaching them how to live in this new life and how to do the will of God as well. They developed leaders! It is sad, yet true, that many great leaders failed to mentor and train other leaders so as a result, when the great leader was gone, the church suffered greatly and, in some cases, closed down.

We are never truly successful as leaders unless we have a successor. Also, many times when there is a strong leader, he or she will lead to a certain level, then, unless other leaders are trained or brought in, the growth stops and things begin to stagnate. As leaders, we need to re-introduce the ministry of mentoring.

In mentoring, we train by example and experience. We must never become so entrenched in our own ideas that we refuse to go further. The “second phase” of salvation is discipling people once they are born again. We need to take new converts under our wings and teach them how not only to serve God effectively, but also how to develop their talents and abilities to be used in His kingdom.

Proverbs 24:3-4 states, “Through wisdom is a house built, but by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all pleasures and pleasant riches.”

Wisdom helps to set a direction. Wisdom helps us to lead others. Wisdom is a foundation for the mentoring relationship. Wisdom is understanding what is true and right and lasting. It is insight and good judgment. It is making a wise outlook, plan, a course of action, and a right decision. So, we could say, wisdom builds, sets direction, and leads.

Mentoring is a three- phase process.

First of all, it demands a plan of action. Secondly, it is process of development. Then it is a commitment to one another. There has to be mutual trust, patience, and commitment. God is no doubt grieved at the lack of trust that prevails in His kingdom, especially among those in leadership. Trust is developed when you spend time together. Effective mentoring takes time and patience and hard work. Yet the price paid cannot compare to the riches it produces. Once trust has been established, it is maintained through patient leadership. Remember, people, after all, are just people; so you have to work hard in this area. This process of development will produce emotional maturity in leaders as well as the ones being mentored.

Many in the kingdom have been defeated and destroyed because of a lack of trust. We are here to help each other. Leaders that do not trust anyone will never be involved in the mentorship ministry. Unfortunately, their mindset is “I’ll take care of me, and they can do whatever they want to after I’m gone. It won’t matter to me then!”

This, of course, is never the will of God. We are supposed to be building for eternity! Building something that will last longer than we do. Now, you must keep in mind that because we are humans, we are still going to fail from time to time in our expectations of each other. We are going to be disappointed. This doesn’t need to discourage us to the point of giving up. We need to learn from our disappointments. After all, it is a part of life. Remember also how we operate under pressure determines what kind of person we are and what kind of character we have. Leadership and mentoring is a life-long process. When we quit growing, we die. The habits, lifestyles, and patterns of a leader will not only have a great influence on him or her, but also on those to whom they are mentoring.

An excerpt from the book Developing the Ministry Within You by James Holland
Rev. James Holland is a pastor, teacher and conference speaker. He is also involved in leadership training. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He and his wife Shirline live in Glenville, GA where they have been serving as pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church for over twenty years.