In the post before last, I outlined some quick thoughts on how to rectify the current leadership crisis, and it is a crisis, in the Church. I see this crisis in both denominational and nondenominational churches. The problem is that leaders tend to focus on how to maintain and expand their position once they are leaders. This takes their focus off the people and the mission and puts the focus squarely on the leader. When that happens, they adopt the mindset that the people owe them respect, honor and cooperation. Of course, this malady isn't limited to the church, for business, government and the military have their share of poor leaders as well.
This teaching is perpetuated by several popular teachings. The first is that the leader is the anointed of God or God's man. This develops a mystique around the leader that leads people to believe that the leader is more spiritual than most of the people. I heard an African pastor say once, "This person came to me to talk to me about worship. Can you imagine? They came to talk to me, to me, about worship!" He was incredulous that anyone "under" him in the church could have anything to say about something spiritual that he, the pastor, would need to hear.
Everyone is anointed when we function in our purpose. The pastor may be an anointed speaker, the elder may be anointed to administrate, and the worship leader may be anointed to lead people into God's presence. Each one has a gift and when he or she functions in that gift, they are anointed. The pastor submits to other gifts that are more anointed in a particular area. If we think that the pastor is more anointed than the worship leader, for example, just because he is the pastor is faulty theology and the kind of thinking that has helped create the current leadership crisis.
The second is the concept of covering. The teaching goes that somehow a man can protect you from spiritual disaster if you submit your life to him (or her). Can someone tell me how a relationship with one man can supposedly protect hundreds, even thousands, from spiritual danger and harm. When someone says, "I am under so-and-so's covering," what does that mean? Is the word covering in the Bible? Can a man or a relationship with a man protect anyone from cancer or provide for their family? Of course not! I believe in accountability, but how can 1,000 be accountable to one man? If we are serious about covering, we need to see it more as a chance to serve those under us, not lord it over those under us.
The third is the institution of something called armourbearers. Those are men and women who are assigned or who volunteer to assist the leader. I am all for armourbearers, but what about those who aren't in top leadership? Don't they need assistants, too? When the top person is the only one who has an armourbearer, it communicates the wrong thing, in my opinion. Therefore, I never use an armourbearer. When people ask me why, I tell them, "I don't have any armour." I drive myself, carry my own Bible and briefcase, and pretty much take care of my own needs when I speak or work.
There are three verses that I try to use to help guide my imperfect leadership, which I exercise without the benefit of a church structure or official title. Those verses are found in 1 Peter 5:2-4:
Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
These verses have all we need to solve the leadership crisis. If leaders and churches would adopt these verse as their leadership philosophy and enforce them, we would be on a way to the revival that so many talk and pray about. What are the basic principles in those verses?
1. Leaders must serve the people and not expect the people to serve them or their vision.
2. Leaders must be willing to serve. If they aren't, then they will begin to expect that the people will serve them.
3. The money issue must be addressed. If a leader wants to travel and earn honoraria, that's fine. They cannot, however, do it while they are pastoring a local church. How can a man (or woman) be on the road speaking and say they are the pastor of a church of 100 or 10,000? It's not possible. Therefore, that leader must decide between local service and translocal ministry. The two are mutually exclusive.
4. The leader cannot be put in a position where the tendency to lord it over the people takes hold. The leader must influence others to follow by setting a good example, not through directives, orders and control. Power is not bad; it's what the leader does with the power that is the problem. If the leader works to protect his power and amass more, then there is a problem. If the leader works to give his power away, to empower others, then we have a good leader by biblical standards.
I would love to start a dialogue around the issues I have raised and would love to hear from you, especially if you disagree with me. This is your chance to balance my somewhat contrarian views. Please feel free to use this forum to present your thoughts concerning the issues I have raised. I could be wrong and, if I am, you have the duty to correct me and educate my readers. You can write your comments on the site where this entry is posted. Please let us hear from you soon.