November 25, 2015

There is much conversation in many circles these days about “leadership.” I don’t know how much you have thought about it, but allow me to mention just a few things that I believe. (With that in mind… these are my opinions and might be altered if you have a compelling argument.)

I have read several books over the years on “leadership” and they all have a similar first chapter, i.e., “Let’s define ‘leadership’.” Many of the definitions are similar but the one I like the best because of its simplicity is this, “A leader is someone with followers.” Get it? If there is no one following behind you… well then, you are not a leader. I would however add this caveat, “Or you are not a leader in that area of your life.” Do you know what I mean? It’s possible, I think, to be a leader in some areas of our lives but not in other areas. For example, I know some men who are great leaders in the work place but sadly are AWOL at home. No one would question their ability to lead co-workers, but to lead their children or their wives… well… need I say more?

We had a conversation recently at our Session meeting about family traditions. In particular “Where do you spend the holidays? Who hosts your families’ holiday events?” I was sharing that in my memory of childhood it seemed that every major holiday (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas…) was spent at my house. I certainly remember the frantic day before “cleaning” so that the place was somewhat presentable. Our house and my mother as the host were both central in celebrating major events throughout the year. When my mother died in 1968 that ended as quickly as her last heart beat. One moment it was there and the next moment it was finished, gone, never to return. For a variety of reasons no one stepped in the gap. No one took upon themselves that responsibility. It just ended. My mother was the leader (maybe by default) and that leadership in my extended family came to an end in August of that year.

I think few people would have called my mother a “leader.” And yet, in that set of circumstances, she was. I do not believe that “leaders” are “leaders” in all places and at all times, nor should they be. I also believe that “leadership” is an innate gift. Can it be refined and strengthened? Of course! Does everyone have the gift of “leadership”? I think not. Sadly, sometimes folks are thrust into situations where they are called to be “leaders” and they simply don’t have the ability or gifts to do it. Usually that ends in disaster. It’s especially difficult and sad when folks think they are leaders and blame others for not following them.

Please understand that what I am about to say is said with all humility and the admission that I have messed up too many things over the years but, I have known too many pastors who have gone from one church to another leaving a wake of anger, distress and frustration behind them because they are simply not able to do what is required of them. Often they only stay for a year, two, maybe even three. (Keep in mind that there are also churches filled with dragons that devour one pastor after another!) Sadly, the church-hopping pastors are not told nor do they figure out that maybe they are lacking in some abilities (in particular the “leadership” ability) and that might have something to do with their plight. There are many other potential hazards as well. What too often happens is churches are simply blamed by these “leaderless” pastors for their own ineptitude. And of course this is not only a church problem. Most walks of life have these same issues.

Maybe one of the things we need to ask on a regular basis is this, “Am I called and gifted to be a leader in ‘_______’ situation?” We in the church too often appoint people to positions of leadership who have not asked that question of themselves and if they did, the answer would be a definitive “NO!”

We are in such need of leadership in the church these days! Godly people who desire to fervently seek after Jesus Christ; passionate people of integrity who want to rally others to the things of God; people with gifts of “leadership” who have been sitting on the sidelines for too long. Sadly we have allowed “players on the field” who should be participating in a different game. Or we have chosen some to be quarterbacks who in fact ought to play offensive guard.

Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader or potential leader in the church. You could be right… and then again… Do you think this guy saw himself as a leader?

Peter Disowns Jesus

Mark 14:66-72

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

I’m pretty sure Peter would not have described himself as a leader and yet Jesus later said of him:

Matthew 16:18

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

I don’t know if you, the reader, have the gift of “leadership.” If you do, I don’t know where you are called to use it. But I do know this: If you are a leader and you choose to sit on the sidelines, you are wasting the gifts and abilities God has given you and you might even be wasting a large portion of your life. We don’t get a second go around at this. GET IN THE GAME!


3 thoughts on “Leadership

  1. Now here’s a subject that I can “sink my teeth in” and relate to! If I may, add my two cents as I received my Master’s Degree in Leadership from Geneva College. This is my view on the interpretation of “leadership”.

    Jesus Christ was and is the ultimate example of leadership. From the teachings of Jesus Christ we learn that being a “servant leader” in the most general sense means being:

    1 A voluntary servant, who submits themselves to a higher purpose, which is beyond their personal interests or the interests of others,
    2. A leader who uses the power that is entrusted to them to serve others,
    3. A servant who, out of love, serves others needs before their own.
    4. A teacher who teaches their followers, in word and deed, how to become servant leaders themselves.

    .Jesus submitted his own life to sacrificial service under the will of God (Luke 22:42), and he sacrificed his life freely out of service for others (John 10:30). He came to serve (Matthew 20:28) although he was God’s son and was thus more powerful than any other leader in the world. He healed the sick (Mark 7:31-37), drove out demons (Mark 5:1-20), was recognized as Teacher and Lord (John 13:13), and had power over the wind and the sea and even over death (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 9:18-26).

    Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase “servant leadership” in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as a Leader.” However, it’s an approach that people have used for centuries.

    As a servant leader, you’re a “servant first” – you focus on the needs of others, especially team members, before you consider your own. You acknowledge other people’s perspectives, give them the support they need to meet their work and personal goals, involve them in decisions where appropriate, and build a sense of community within your team. This leads to higher engagement, more trust, and stronger relationships with team members and other stakeholders. It can also lead to increased innovation.

    It may be that you have never looked at Jesus as a leadership role model. Christ-centered servant leadership is not a theological construct; it is about the reality of day to day leadership carried out in the character of Christ. As such it is immensely practical but we as Christians need to work out how to apply it in our daily lives as leaders.

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