Part 3 of 3
Based on ideas and concepts from UnLeader: Rethinking Leadership…and Why We Must, my book to be released by Beacon Hill Press this September, I have worked up a few thoughts on the flaws in the leadership-centric culture that dominate the contemporary church. I am convinced that we will never see a genuine missional movement, or a fully released priesthood of believers, until we lay down the staff and crowns of leadership and pick up the trowel and basin of servantship.
15. The Flaw of Management
Churches should be cultures of self-management. Self-management is not about creating a Wild West, renegade, free for all culture, where accountability is nonexistent. It is about the collective servantship community that affirms that particular gifts from Christ have been distributed to certain men and women. And those people are to be released and trusted to exercise their gifts for the sake of the overall body of believers. Yes, they are to give account for the results of their stewardship of responsibilities, finances, and the like—while maintaining a posture of mutual submission to the overall community. They are to give an account of how they are using the collective resources of the church or ministry body. But people should be trusted, not bossed nor managed. They are accountable to the entire community, not one or two people who occupy positions of hierarchy over the rest of the community of co-followers.
16. The Flaw of Unilateral Accountability
For some reason most senior pastors believe they are the only ones who have the
right to be trusted to self manage. But Unleaders—working from cultures of
servantship—operate from a stance of mutual submission. This neutralizes and
limits the hoarding and abuse of power. Kathy Escobar (in Down We Go) writes, “Hoarding power won’t work on the downward descent. We will have to learn to diffuse power, which sometimes looks like giving it away, but sometimes looks like stepping into the responsibility of it. Diffusing power means inviting others to share leadership, value and voice. Diffusing power means moving away from one leader and hero worship, to finding ways to include and make room for others, and continually fan into flame people’s gifts and passions.”
17. The Flaw of Leadership-centricism
Perhaps the biggest snafu concerning the current leadership obsession is that Jesus
himself directly contradicts much—if not most—of what is being imported into
the church under the leadership mantra. Better put, much of it is expressly
forbidden by Jesus. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul hosting a leadership
conference for the early church with a lineup of speakers such as Roman
Governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus;Revolutionary Leader Simon bar Giora; and
John Philip Maximus, owner of the Roman Traders’ Market (I made up this last guy)? Ridiculous, huh? Most disconcerting is the fact that Jesus himself is not our first choice when it comes to the one whom we model ourselves after as leaders.
18. The Flaw of Winking at Servantship
If we look to Jesus as our mentor and our model, we will reach no other conclusion than that to follow him means we will seek to be servants, not leaders. Then when we do lead it is born from the person of Jesus. Our desire and greater obsession
must be to develop Servantship cultures in our ministries and churches. When we
discover that serving is mentioned fifty times more in the New Testament than
leading, we should need no more evidence of what is most pressing on the heart of God. And what presses God’s heart must press ours as well.
19. The Flaw of Winking at Humility
Scott Bessenecker writes, “The hope for the world lies in meekness. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’ (Matthew 5:5). The reason that the meek will inherit the earth is that they are naturally disposed to use power in the way it was designed by God to be used—as a guard for the weak and to preserve the common good…”
20. The Flaw of Kingly Metaphors
Humanly held kingly power was never God’s intention or ideal best for his people. But the Israelites rejected God as King, demanded a man as King, and the church has done the same thing. In Deuteronomy 17 God says, you can have a human King, but warns of the king whose heart would be “lifted up above his brothers,” which is exactly what happens when one man is set above all others. He begins to believe he is smarter than, better than, and more important than his brothers.
21. The Flaw of Building on Leadership
Leadership cultures do not possess the cultural intelligence for genuine community. They will always fail to bring about genuine unity. They draw their cues from the system of this fallen world. Jesus called it the “way of the gentiles” (Matthew 20:25).
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