Archive for March 9th, 2012
So what’s the essence of leadership?
I’m sure I can get about as many answers to that question as people who respond. We all have our own ideas of what genuine leadership is all about. Yesterday, in a strange collision of outside reading, the Lord really challenged me to think through this whole idea of the essence of leadership.
Like many churches, our congregation and leadership is wrestling through some important ideas about worship, singing, and mission. My concern is that we not get ourselves into a tug-of-war over positions and miss the primary call of our mission — we can so easily forget why God put us where we are, with the people we have, with the community we touch, with the lost folks we are currently reaching while surrounded by the lost folks we are not currently reaching.
Earlier this week, I was researching tug-of-war. I wasn’t so concerned about the origin and the official rules of the game, but I wanted to know about outcomes. So here is what I have found.
In a tug of war there are these notable outcomes:
- One side wins and the other side loses.
- The contest goes on so long with no clear winner, they call it a draw and both feel like losers.
- The rope breaks and numerous injuries occur — this was more common that I thought possible.
- No matter the official outcome, many injuries, some of them quite serious, are inflicted on “winners” and “losers” in the contest
In a family of faith (church, small group, cell church, house church, faith community, fellowship or whatever tag you want to apply), do you see any options in this list that are desirable?
So the nagging question that has been haunting me is this one: How do we go from WON to ONE? Yeah, I almost didn’t use that image because it’s almost too cute, but after thinking about it, this question seemed to capture my heart. In fact, I think I would chart it this way using Jesus’ prayer of John 17:
Moving from WON to One so that we can be ONE to Win others.
Isn’t that the issue? Are we trying to get everyone on the same page without winners and losers? Don’t we want to avoid injuries, serious and non-serious, that are unnecessary? Don’t we want to keep our focus on our mission to the lost and broken world and not on our own preferences, comfortabilities, and personal dogmas?
Timothy Archer put out a blog post on approaches to Scripture — Normative and Regulative — that was thought provoking. One of our Shepherds, Steve Ridgell, had pointed us to this post. I thought it was instructive and helpful. One of Tim’s first commenters shared these remarks, that I personally found quite insightful:
I especially appreciated the specificity of this line:
“… doing what God commands in Scripture, not doing what God forbids in Scripture …”
We spend so much time on the comma symbolized in the sentence.
As good friend, Grady King, once said, “I have never met a church person whose knowledge of Scripture did not exceed his obedience of Scripture.” Yes, we often spend more time and get more upset on the “comma” than we do the two very important calls to obedience on either side. This is especially true of HOW we behave and treat each other in the processes of deciding an issue as an a group.
My daily reading in The Chronological Bible had me reading about Moses not entering the promised land. In the give and take of the previous discussion, the Holy Spirit seemed to be giving me more than a gentle nudge to pay attention to these words of judgement against Moses by God:
“When the people of Israel rebelled, you failed to demonstrate my holiness to them …” (Numbers 27:14 nlt emphasis added).
Somewhere in the challenges of leading, leaders must demonstrate the holiness of God to the people they lead. That’s pretty hard in the mayhem of a tug-of-war! So shouldn’t we worry less about outcomes (“my outcome” or “their outcome”) and focus on process.
How are we going to demonstrate the holiness of God in this process of deciding? How are we going to demonstrate the holiness of God in …
… how we decide it?
… how we treat each other in the deciding of it?
… how we honor Scripture in trying to decide it?
… how we honor the people we lead as we decide it?
… how we honor the folks who don’t know Jesus around us as we decide it?
I guess the longer I’m around and the more church tug-of-wars I’ve witnessed, the more I’m convinced that the essence of leadership is to help God’s people avoid war, declared wars or tug-of-wars, where there are winners and losers and lots of injuries. Even more, I am convicted that the process of deciding has to be a time where God’s leaders demonstrate the holiness of God in the way they lead, decide, nurture, instruct, and reach out.
For me, the Holy Spirit nailed it in Hebrews 13:7-8:
Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Let’s not fail to demonstrate the holiness of God in what we do, decide, and how we treat each other as we seek God’s will for those we lead and those we need to reach with the grace of heaven!