Below, I share with you a leadership covenant that we developed for a Christian nonprofit called Shaping Destiny. All our core team members sign the covenant before joining the team. The purpose of the leadership covenant is to set expectations and make sure that prospective candidates have considered everything carefully (and counted the costs in detail) before they join our organization.

Leadership Covenant

Just as the U.S. military and other national military forces, we see ourselves as members of Christ’s volunteer military force, called to render a service that is important and means life or death for some people. As such, we expect serious and unshakable commitment from people who want to be core members on our team. This leadership covenant is the commitment they have to make to serve their full-term and to put the service of the orphans and unbelievers Shaping Destiny is called to serve as first priority at all times.

Below the dotted lines is the content of the Leadership Covenant that would normally be printed on a letter head for new recruits to sign.


[Initial every single point in this covenant to show that you’ve read and understood it.]

While becoming a Christian means to commit yourself to Christ, becoming a member or part of the leadership team of a ministry like SDM or ABI means to commit yourself to other believers working there and to the work that Christ is calling you to do there. Paul mentions two different types of commitment in 2 Corinthians 8:5 – “First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God’s will, they gave themselves to us as well.” (GN)

These two commitments are important. You commit yourself to Christ for salvation and then you commit yourself to other Christians for membership in a church family or service on a ministry leadership team, including staff.

Ministry leaders are soldiers for Christ. Doing spiritual work is serious warfare. In the U.S. military, when a soldier signs up to serve for a number of years, they are responsible for doing so. If they desert the military, there are serious consequences including imprisonment. When that happens, the government immediately issues an arrest warrant for the soldier. Why does the military do this? Because the lives of other soldiers on the battlefront depend on every enlisted soldier doing their part. In the kingdom of God, it is very similar. The lives and livelihoods of team members depend on the commitment of the entire team. When one person doesn’t perform their duty effectively, it hurts other team members and the ministry of Christ. So every leadership team member commits to:

… 1) Do the entire duration they promised to serve at the beginning no matter what happens,

… 2) Give God their best and be committed to each other and to the unity of the team.

At SDM, we only expect of our members what the Bible clearly expects of all believers. These expectations are summarized in our Leadership Covenant.

We have four requirements for membership:

1) A personal profession of Christ as Lord and Savior;

2) Baptism by immersion as a public symbol of one’s faith;

3) Completion of all required training;

4) A signed commitment to abide by the SDM leadership covenant.

The SDM Leadership Covenant

Having received Christ as my Lord and Savior and been baptized (by immersion), and being in agreement with SDM’s statements, strategy, and structure, I now feel led by the Holy Spirit to unite with the Shaping Destiny family as part of the leadership team. In doing so, I commit myself to God and to the other members of the leadership team to do the following:


…By acting in love toward other leaders

…By refusing to gossip

…By following the leaders

…By making and keeping all my promises

…By completing the entire duration I promised to serve.

“So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.” (Romans 14:19 NLT)

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT)

“Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (Hebrews 13:17 NLT)


…By praying for its growth

…By inviting the unchurched to attend disciple making events

…By actively putting into practice the principles of disciplemaking that I will be learning

…By serving as part of new church plants within the city

…By actively following the best practices of poverty alleviation that I would be learning so that I can serve the poor well without hurting myself or them

…By warmly welcoming those who visit

…By inviting others to support the work financially and otherwise


…By discovering my gifts and talents

…By being equipped to serve alongside my senior leaders

…By continuing to learn and grow

…By developing a servant’s heart

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (1 Peter 4:10 NLT)

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT)

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. … Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being….” (Philippians 2:3-4, 7 NLT)


…By serving faithfully for the entire duration that I promised when I first joined the ministry.

…By refusing to quit no matter what happens because that hurts the other team members, it hurts their lives and livelihoods, their calling, and the mission of making disciples and serving the poor.

…By making sure that before I leave, I must train someone else to take my place and give a six-month notice to the other team members so they can prepare and not be hurt when I leave.

…By living a godly life

…By giving regularly according to my means

…By taking the responsibility for rebuilding trust whenever I let the team down and for producing the fruits of repentance whenever I say, “I repent”

…By taking appropriate conflict resolution steps each time there is a conflict between the other team members and myself

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT)

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing side by side, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.” (Philippians 1:27 NLT)

“On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.” (1 Cor. 16:2 NLT)

“One tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD and must be set apart to him as holy.” (Leviticus 27:30 NLT)

5. Additional COMMITMENTS

Christian leadership (as shown in 1 Tim.3: 1-13 and Titus 1:5-9) involves a calling to model selflessness. Therefore, by accepting a leadership role at SDM, I commit to:

  • Know and serve the Lord Jesus Christ as my first love
  • Live privately and publicly in a manner that is consistent with my commitment to Christ and the relationship I have with Him
  • Demonstrate accountability by practicing confession, truth telling, transparency, and authenticity
  • Guard what I watch, read, and listen to knowing that I bear the fruit of what I consume
  • Have a daily time with Jesus where I learn to listen to his voice
  • Act in intentional ways to help build and maintain Christ-centered community at SD
  • Participate in and contribute to a local faith community
  • Actively cultivate my awareness of the social issues impacting the local and global community, beginning with the SD community
  • Honor God with my conduct in all relationships, including:
    • Choosing to embrace God-honoring diversity
    • Choosing sexual purity, modesty, and celibacy outside of a marriage covenant
    • Choosing to abstain from the use of alcohol, smoking, and illegal drugs
    • Honor God with my intellect, in my studies, my vocation, my future
    • Respect and support all SD positional statements and to respect and abide by all ministry standards of conduct, ministry integrity policy, and other ministry policies
    • Fulfill any additional expectations my supervisors may have for me as a ministry leader



Definitions:  At SD, long-term will mean 5 years or more. Short term will mean 4 years or less. Recruitment is very expensive. According to Forbes, companies spend 30-50% of an employee’s annual salary in hiring the employee. If the employee’s annual salary is, say, 100K, that’s a whopping 30 to 50k.[1] If this employee quits or is fired because of poor fit, employers have to spend another 30 to 50K hiring another person. Nonprofit organizations go through the same expenses even with their volunteers. The fact that a volunteer doesn’t get paid doesn’t mean that a lot of the organization’s resources aren’t being used to advertise open positions, interview and screen recruits, and provide training for the new hire. Hiring and losing people puts a huge drain on the already limited resources that nonprofits have.  “Additionally, it may take a new employee one to two years to reach maximum productivity. High turnover rates can cause other workers to feel less engaged.”[2]

Duration of Your Commitment: _______ Years

7. Signing the Leadership covenant.

By signing this leadership covenant, I am saying that God has told me to serve here for the duration I have chosen. As such, I would not be able to say, “God has told me to go do something else” until I finish my commitment here. Because God wants me to keep all my promises even when it hurts, He will not tell me to leave until I have finished the time I promised.

I have read everything in the leadership covenant and commit to lead in accordance with these principles.


Your Name: ______________________________

Signature: ________________________ Date: ____________________

Duration of Commitment: _______ Years


Accountability Partner Signature (Recommended)

This accountability partner has to be another believer, who is important in your life, who is neither your spouse nor a staff with the organization. A person who can objectively speak the truth to you even if it hurts; who can show tough love.  It can be parents, former pastors, close friends etc.

Name of Accountability Partner: _____________________________

Signature: ________________________ Date: ____________________