Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All Hands On - Rejecting Biblical Leadership

Just about all people follow someone's leadership. They have heroes, bosses, managers, parents, pastors and teachers. And yet most of us also lead. We can lead ourselves, a family, or a country; someone is in always in charge. I believe Church leadership is partly talent, partly learned and always entrusted to us by God.

All of our choices have consequences, and therefore are leading somewhere.

Every entity has some sort of leadership; the church is not exempt from that. It seems I have come across more then few uniformed church people in the area of leadership. They don't seem to understand the fundamentals of leading, but have no problem taking control. They don't seem to get that leadership is not about them, but about those they lead. Simply stated in the Bible, "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." Leadership in the church is about getting at the end of the blessing line and encouraging others to join you. Church leadership is really a place of sacrifice, humility and service.

Within the church there are different visions for leadership. Some churches have a board, others have a voting deaconate, some seem more like a corporation and others are one man; one vision, take it or leave type operations. There are also different leadership styles, some are aggressive, some are not. John Maxwell has written some good solid leadership books. He details some of the key principles of leadership. Real leadership seems to have a persuasive nature to it. A leader interfaces with people in a fashion that motivates them to do things your way. Leaders take responsibility for their actions and choices. Good leaders are an example to their followers and know how to delegate to others. A good leader considers lots of ideas.

What if all that training, all those ideas, and all that counsel is not God?

Regardless of our style, Christians need to adhere to biblical principals. What amazes me is that many don't know what they are. Here is one that shows up a lot, but I don't see it in the Bible. Voting! No one in the Bible voted on anything... save Paul before his conversion to put Christians to death. They cast lots to give God and opportunity to show His preference. But they didn't vote! They relied on wisdom, council, prophecy and hearing the Holy Spirit. You may remember that Peter and Paul addressed some conflicts, but this was an informational meeting for the uninformed, not a vote. When we understand church leadership is being led, we come up with some very different models.

In the church we seem to have a CEO mentality... I am the boss you are the workers; or worse, the spectators! This view is an American corporate teaching, not a biblical teaching. In business I guess it works, but in the church it separates the leadership from those that need more intimate attention. It turns people in to commodities, not parts of a body joined together by grace to perform the work of the church. Certainly we have to have authority in the church, but that comes from God and it is not controlling everyone, or trying to make everyone like us. The church is meant to be a body with all the parts working together to fulfill the mandates of Christ. There are many scriptures regarding the body and it's functioning. Read 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 along with Romans 12, and Ephesians 4. These chapters talk about the body and the gifts that are used both in the and outside of the church walls. Ephesians 4 specifically talks about how we are to train and equip all believers.

If you look over your life I am sure you can think of people, teachers, pastors, parents, coaches and managers that taught you things, not by control and manipulation, but by modeling principals and behaviors, answering questions, and encouragement. They answered your questions with interest and information in a way that that you could understand. They allowed you to do it and helped you to become your best.

Over the years I have heard of all kinds of discipleship movements. My favorite was the matrix model. I liked it because it took those in leadership and asked of them to raise-up someone to take their job within the church. From pastors and worship leaders to Sunday school teachers and toilet cleaners, everyone serving in the church was to raise someone else up! It was something like an Elijah and Elisha type relationship. Or a better example might be Jesus and the 12 apostles. He trained them for a time when He would be gone they took over. I am sure that they were glad that He was around when they had to feed the 5,000 men and their families. But on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was with them and thousands were added to their number.

We may only be making coffee, but that is an important job in the church and when we grow into something new, we'll need someone to take our place. If you are a leader, don't be threatened by your protegé, he might just do a better job. Wouldn't it be great if those we inspired did a better job then us! We don't have to be experts or super spiritual, no, we need to get at the end of the line and put someone before us. And if God sees fit, we'll get a promotion to do something else.

How about you, do you lead, or have an inspiring leader?


Andrea York said...

I wish more the leaders in my home church would read this and take heed.

We have a dictatorship leadership structure in our church. It's the lead pastors way or the highway, and so far about 8 of the other pastors have left without another job lined up. Things that make you go, hmmmm.

Leaders serve UNDER their followers, not pulling and cajoling.

I'm a leader (of sorts). I don't aspire to top leader position and currently I don't have any place to "lead" but that doesn't change who I am.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

I've tried to write a post about this topic - specifically how Jesus taught upside down leadership where the leaders are servants - something very much so lost from what I've seen. The ego is a mighty monster to slay.

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