(started in 2013 but didn’t publish until today 2017)
When you come to the webpage to write a blog, you automatically go to the first line…the “Title” line…and I have no idea how to even begin to write this, much less what I title it. It is much bigger than I can wrap my mind around because it comes from a love of God’s people, the Church, which has taken years to progressively grow, love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, including family, from many different theological backgrounds and positions. As I try to wrap my mind around around what I want to say, I don’t even know where to begin, nor where I’m trying to end up with this. This is coming from the writing of my presentation for my internship here at Mars Hill Church, from a material we use called “Porterbrook.” The presentation I was giving was on the section entitled “Understanding Leadership.”
Normally whenever I’ve read that statement or even anything with the term “Leadership” attached to Christian ministry I’ve automatically judged and disregarded reading anything further. However, this time I was forced to read further, because I have to write a one page synopsis on this topic for the unit. To let you in on my mental process into why I didn’t like the term “Christian Leadership”…I basically interpreted any teaching on leadership as a “Used Car Salesman Approach to Church Leadership.” I saw any leadership resources as ways to teach “pastors” how to control, dominate, influence, manipulate, and coerce people in the church to do what you say and rally the congregation around you and your ideas, no matter how biblical or not they were, and not on biblical characteristics or the leadership of Jesus by the power of the Spirit. While this may have some ground for truth in some resources, it was not necessarily generally true. There are many pastors who strive to faithfully lead and love those who have been entrusted to their care.
“Leadership” – so what does this word mean? What is it? What does it look like? First we have to remove ourselves from the view that this is talking about telling other people what to do and extract manipulation from its definition.
To try to bring some clarity to my next section, I also want to be clear about a few things that I don’t mean. I do not associate Evangelicalism to patriotism (nationalism) – I do not believe that America is a Christian nation, nor has any favor of God as a country, so when I speak of the Church, I do not mean this patriotic “God Bless America” religion, who’s god is the Republican elephant or even trying to advance one nation. I also do not mean Fundamantalism – a flight from cultural involvement and transformation and operating out of a sense of a “moral majority” mentality who desires to force Christian moralism upon the pervading culture.
Democracy is one of the biggest nemeses to the leader is the innate Western issue concerning leadership, especially leadership in the church. In this form of thinking, “my” opinion is just as valid as any other voice. I was having a conversation with a gentleman the other day as we threw out the statement “I wonder if Facebook is the greatest demonic creation of our generation.” As sinfully oppressed beings, we instinctively desire autonomy from any leading/ruling body or person. Especially in this generation, we as individuals, do not want to be ruled over or led. We want to do what we want to do, for others to accept us the way we are no matter what we do or say, because we are expressing our individualism, and we, in our own heads, are always right – or at least we’d like to think of ourselves. The self is about the self, as the self is itself consumed with itself. The problem with democracy in society is not just that it is filled with broken sinners in need of grace, but rather that the democracy ideology itself permeates every area of our western culture. Majority defines “right” and “wrong.” There are many implications within the rising generations and how our “me” ideology has infected and will, for the next decade or longer, become the leading force of problems as a society politically, religiously, and economically. This comes into play specifically as we teach the coming generations about leadership and those in authority.
We live in rebellion against “the man” as a culturally accepted norm. Anything that is seen as corporate, big, ruled over by a leader is evil. Movies and music have been made to depict any and all leadership as malicious as comparable to totalitarian warlords.
When I would envision someone in “Leadership” I saw them as this “used car salesman” types who had pizzazz, charisma, flair, eloquence, a chiseled jaw line, fine dressed, perfect teeth (like a worship leader I saw recently) whose intention was to manipulate me and pull the wool over my eyes. But leadership is not about our ability to coerce others to do what we want them to do, believe what we tell them believe, convince them to “buy into our vision,” or even rally around us as a leader. Leadership, good leadership, is about character and competence. Leadership, namely Christian Leadership, is ultimately and always about leading people to the knowledge and worship of God.
How do we observe this is the scripture? Look at each figure who God used as a leader in the story of God.
- Abraham – fathered a people for God’s own purposes
- Joseph – was key in God’s preservation of His people
- Moses – deliverance and establishment of the covenant with God’s people
- Joshua – led God’s people into the promised land
- David – represented God’s good rule over His people
- Nehemiah – Gave hope to God’s people
- Jesus – Accomplished final deliverance and salvation for His people by placing His Spirit into His people
- Paul – God used him to lead to the flourishing of God’s new covenant people
- John – Showed Christ’s’ Church the final hope of God’s Glory and the rule and reign of Christ
These are just small attributions of each of these leaders and is not an exhaustive list, but seeing them in the frame of mind of being powerfully used by God as “Leaders” of His people throughout history.
We need to take our cues on leadership from Christ, His written Word, and His Holy Spirit within us; not from the business world.