I have been learning about leadership for the last 10 years in the church culture. I have taken classes, watched podcasts, heard lectures and speeches, read books and heard it talked about ad nauseum by individuals who believe leadership is next to Godliness. I have come to the conclusion that leadership is a great thing that often becomes an idol. Here is what led to that opinion.
Biblical leadership is not glamours. It’s hanging out with people while speaking truth, but not really being anyone important. It’s helping and serving and washing nasty feet. It is without title or position or recognition. It’s simply doing the will of the Father in front of others. It’s following in the first position, following God and having others follow you as you follow God. You don’t get to make the rules, pick the direction, make the vision or the purpose. You simply follow the Father. Sometimes you have no place to lay your head. Sometimes you are without honor among your home town. Sometimes the followers abandon you and those in charge throw you to the dogs.
Biblical leadership is not always by the book. Sometimes you are a king or a fisherman or a religious leader, a traitor or a kid or a carpenter from a hick town. Sometimes you are a respectable person in a place that is disrespectful, sometimes you are a disrespectful person suddenly respected. You are seldom if ever up for the challenge, you don’t have a resume and you are seldom prepared lest you take the glory for yourself. You may be rejected, dejected, even ejected. Man rejects you but the Spirit empowers you. You are definitely not on the cover of Time or Forbes and not on the top 100 of anything. Those are the people God uses.
Today in the church, however, I see something different. It’s a model that didn’t come from the Bible, it came from the cooperate, secular world, the government and from the private sector. It’s the idea of being in the top chair and commanding the troops beneath you. It’s being out in front leading the pack. It’s casting vision, sharing purpose, writing strategic plans and doing what you think is best. It takes charisma, personality, charm and guts. You have to be smart and tough and sometimes mean when needed. It helps to look good, have nice clothes and smell good, have a good smile and a good looking spouse. You are measured on your success and how big your office is, your library, your vocabulary, your education and your congregation are. You have more Bs than anyone else (bucks, Baptisms and bodies in the pew) and you are on the radio, television, news stands and best seller lists. You can sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves and Eskimos are lined up to buy ice cubes.
So, here is my challenge, my call, my conviction and my invitation. Lets be Biblical Leaders. Toss out the purpose and vision and mission statements you painfully crafted, because Jesus already gave them. Give up the lead seat and give it to Jesus. Don’t just say you follow the Bible but then make decisions based on your judgement or your experience or your great ideas. The Bible tells us how to do church, so why do we constantly reinvent and reevaluate. We strive for and fight for and work for leadership, let God choose His leaders. We become leaders and we stop following, we stop learning, we stop being accountable.
Will you be happy if God takes away your title, your position, your income and your congregation and you are in a tent somewhere sharing with tribal people? Will you be content if your ministry becomes to those who have nothing and no one and no way to thank you? Will you be ok if you are not admired, respected or even listened too? Are we willing to be Biblical leaders even if it means being led into captivity, tending sheep for 40 years or being beaten and pelted with rocks?
It’s time to lead out of our lack and lead as we follow. I am willing to be the last and the least because Jesus tells me that is what is required. I am willing to be a nobody like a small child that no one pays attention too, speaks too or reads his blog. I am willing to become less and let Christ become more. It won’t be easy, it contradicts everything my prideful human flesh tells me to do. It has been something I have given lip service to in the past and said “ya, I’m humble and willing to be nobody” but I am not sure my life can give testimony to that. It’s time to be authentic and walk the talk instead of just talking a good show and acting like a company man. I want to be a new man instead. Care to join me?