A day or two ago, a commenter asked if my thoughts on leadership made it more difficult to work in a church staff culture. And it made me realize that perhaps I should clarify my personal position. Otherwise, at best I might look like a big hypocrite and at worst like I scorn the employer I’ve agreed to… serve. Neither of which I would ever want to happen.
First of all, I’m not anti-leadership. I’m just very interested in the curious obsession we currently have with “Leadership.” It seems to have become elevated as more important than the other gifts listed in Romans 12, which flies in the face of the teaching there about being one body with many parts. It’s like the hand saying, “What the body needs is more hands! The future of the body depends on developing hands of influence!” (I Corinthians 12). “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (v.18).
And secondly, I honestly respect the leadership where I work. I’m very fortunate to be at a church where leaders are focused on pointing people to God, not empire-building. In January we launched the RISK Project, dedicated to: reach the lost, restore the disadvantaged, and resource churches nationwide. We’re not a huge church, but we’re partnering with other churches to build the kingdom. That’s almost unheard of in the Church today.
Honestly, my biggest issue is with those who try to manipulate Jesus into a leader/manager/CEO. (In fact, it could be argued that as a leader he was an utter failure, but that may be a topic for another post.) This wringing leadership principles out of clear, simple instructions to serve, deny, give up, follow, lay down, etc., just smacks of remaking God in our own image, to me. We’re just like the disciples who wanted Jesus to be a military leader. We want him to be who we think he should be, because what he’s clearly teaching doesn’t seem like it could possibly work in the world we live in.
All of us – teachers, leaders, servers, encouragers, the merciful – work together to bring people to Christ. Leaders organize and strategize, teachers disciple, servers meet needs. In this way, we all use our unique gifts to serve.