33 min
By: ENC Leaders

Episode 22: The Leader’s Freedom

As leaders, we are bound to our calling. Yet, we also have the freedom to do what is difficult to do. In this episode, Pastor Joe Bonifacio talks about the five freedoms a leader has.

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As we have talked about in Episode 19: Why are you still leading?, we feel, in some ways, that the leader is stuck, bound by calling.

We talked about having no choice. Other people can make a different choice, but you know you can’t.

You are called to lead a certain way, so you are not as free as other people are.

Where others quit, you stay.

Where others backbite, you confront directly.

Where others give full vent to their anger, you look to stay calm and reconcile.

So in some ways, leadership means being less free than others seem to be. 

But today I wanna balance out that idea with the flipside: that leaders have freedoms that others don’t have. 


So my basic premise is: leaders are those who are free to do what is difficult to do. This is possible because Jesus has set us free for that.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

Romans 6:17–18


In Jesus Christ, we become slaves of righteousness.

Yes, we are still slaves, but if you had a choice, would you rather be a slave of sin–always angry, always anxious, always fearful, always insecure, always boasting–or a slave of righteousness–brave, kind, patient.


AGENCY: In social science, agency is defined as the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.

  • This capacity is a consistent theme in the series “Leading in Anxious Times.”
  • People think agency is restricted to external circumstances: slavery, oppressive economic or social structures. This is true to some extent, but Jesus Christ worked by setting us free from within–freeing us from sin and its consequences.
  • This makes us free to act even within broken systems and oppressive structures.
  • People who are not free from sin may be able to dismantle those systems, only to erect new, but still broken ones.
  • As Christian leaders, we can do our part in dismantling those systems, but only because we have first been set free from the inside as well.


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

God gives us a choice how to respond. The Holy Spirit enables us to do what we can’t do alone.

Christians make amazing leaders because we have been set free from sinful responses. We can bring healing and reconciliation in places where people only see brokenness and anger.

9:28 Five Freedoms every Christian leader has:

The Bible says we are free to respond differently in the following ways:

10:02 Free to respond in the opposite spirit

  • When people act out you don’t need to respond to them in the way they’re treating you.
  • In the series Leading in Anxious Times, we discuss differentiation of self, where we are saying that we are free to determine our own choices, regardless of anyone else’s choices.
  •  “I am an agent of my own actions. I have a choice.
  • Ps. Adam Mabry summarizes this as “Show kindness, expect hate, but return love.”

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17–21

Run, run, the law commands

But gives us neither feet nor hands.

Much better news the Gospel brings,

It bids us fly and gives us wings.

– attributed to John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress)

  • There are times when you really have to cut ties because the relationship has become too toxic from the other end, but as far as it depends on you, you can always choose to act in the opposite spirit and not be in attack mode. 
  • We can overcome evil with good.

16:57 Free to think for yourself and not be driven by what other people say

  • When the world experiences stress, people act in a way that is polarizing.
  • As Christians, we can be free of this and be free to think for ourselves.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 1:19–20

  • Many think their anger will produce righteousness in this world, but the Bible says that the anger of man cannot produce the righteousness of God.
  • I need not rush or be pressured into giving a response.
  • Sometimes, when we feed ourselves too much with what’s on social media, we tend to miss out on this freedom.
  • We don’t have to argue with one another online. We can discuss calmly face to face.

19:15 Free to overcome your worst habits

  • There are things about you that make you a good leader, but there are also things about you that make you a bad leader.
  • Often, when our flaws come out, we try to excuse it or cover it up. But there are moments when it stares us right on the face, we excuse them by saying “But that’s who I am. I’ve always been this way.”
  • But, as a child of God, you will not always be that way.
  • You may have struggles, but you will not always be that way. In Christ, because of the power of the Holy Spirit, you can overcome your worst struggles.

23:31 Free to love and serve others, because Jesus takes care of you.

  • We usually ask when we are called to serve someone, “What about me?”
  • For as long as God calls you to serve, keep serving, and trust that He will be the one to take care of your well-being: vindication, promotion, prosperity. All these come from Him.
  • A leader who wakes up to think of their team without having to think of their own needs, is free to put in their energy into the leadership role–what a powerful leader you can be.

25:31 Free to rest.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28–30

  • When you are tired and burned out, ask yourself, “Is this still God who is asking me to do this? Or is this someone else?”
  • So many leaders are driven, not by a clear call from God, but by obligation, social pressure, or guilt. Those are terrible drivers.
  • God, on the other hand, is a great Master. He desires for us to rest and trust in Him.
  • One of the most spiritual things you can do is to take a nap.
  • If you don’t think you can rest, ask yourself “Why not?” 
  • Ask God, “Lord, did You want me to put this on my calendar? Or did I?
  • You are free to rest, because Jesus Christ is your boss and no one else.

As leaders, what if we act according to our freedoms? 

Imagine that! Imagine an entire society permeated with leaders who are not driven by fear, insecurity, guilt, obligation, shame, anxiety, or peer pressure. Imagine leaders in every sector of society who are running around not for themselves but to serve others, acting in the opposite spirit, overcoming their worst habits, and stopping to rest as they get direction from their Lord and Master. That is what we’re part of and it gives us hope for humanity. 

On one hand, we are slaves to righteousness, bound to the calling God has for us. But you are free in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be a child of God. You’re free to be the leader that you are, making an impact to society and changing the world.  

So, world-changer, be free!

Processing Questions:

  1. Which of the five freedoms of a leader are you not living out? What bad habits are you indulging in as if you do not have a choice? What reflex responses, offenses, and fights are you engaging in? How can you choose to respond differently? 
  2. Am I resting well? What are the mindsets that I have that keep me from resting? What does God say about that?

The ENC Leadership podcast is hosted by Pastor Joe Bonifacio.

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