Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and friends,
Steve here… Leadership is a tricky thing. It’s often hard for human beings to handle leadership; we too often abuse our authority. The prevalent view in our own society is that leaders should not be trusted.
Instead of condemning leadership, Jesus chooses to redeem it. He speaks of servant-leadership—Jesus defines leadership as servanthood. Rob Banks writes: “We often talk about servant-leadership, but we get Christ’s emphasis backwards. We mix up what ought to be the adjective and what ought to be the noun. Servanthood is the primary calling, and leadership is but one form that servanthood takes. So we really should be talking about LEADING-SERVANTS.”
I like that definition of Christian leadership; church leaders are servants who happen to lead.
Jim Collins, in his book “Built to Last”, said that many companies suffer from the “tyranny of the oar.” Too many companies choose to emphasize values over profit, or vice versa. Successful businesses seek to do both. They promote high values and great profits, but there is always a constant tension between the two. It’s like a group of rowers lined up in single file in a boat. If they do not apply the same amount of tension, the boat will go around in circles. If they pull evenly, the boat moves in a straight line to their direction.
The important thing is to recognize that there’s a tension that needs to be overcome in order for the boat to more forward smoothly.
Christian leaders need to be fully aware of the tension in leadership. Some may emphasize the importance of servanthood, listening and seeking group consensus. However, if we emphasize the importance of leadership and we focus on vision, mobilizing people, achieving goals, and don’t take servanthood seriously enough, then people can feel manipulated, driven and like they’re being used. If the oars are not pulled in unison or with the same tension…the boat (or church) goes in circles.
So what are some of these tensions that need to be mastered by leading-servants?
· Christian leaders must be decisive, but submissive.
· Servant leaders must be resourceful, but utterly dependent.
· Church leaders must assert themselves, while also dying to self.
· Leading-servants must have a tough-minded sense of purpose as well as tender-hearted compassion.
This is the kind of leadership Jesus models and expects of His leaders. Our Lord wants us to model this to His children. This is the great privilege and struggle of every Christian leader.
When my son, Alec, was an infant, he taught me something extraordinary. His first word was “mommy”, but his second word was “daddy.” Soon after, he referred to his grandfather as “dado.” Daddy, Dada, Dado. I recognized my son’s conception of his Heavenly Father would largely be based on his understanding of his earthly father. This is a huge responsibility every father must recognize.
This is the responsibility of every Christian leader: to get the tension right and emulate servant-leadership, Jesus-style. How has your rowing been these days?
Have a blessed week,
P.S.- Have you heard about our FAIR Christmas project for 2013? CLICK HERE for more information on how you can help the people in the slums of Kolkata, India, this Christmas.
Our 2014 Fellowship theme verse is:
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 (NLT)