Myth #1: Certain individuals are called to be the leaders within the body of Christ.
Truth: We are called to a mission and we are called to serve.
The first myth deals with the false dichotomy of leaders and followers. Lee Hock in his article on chaordic leadership had this to say:
“In the deepest sense, distinction between leaders and followers is meaningless. In every moment of life, we are simultaneously leading and following. There is never a time when our knowledge, judgment and wisdom are not more useful and applicable than that of another. There is never a time when the knowledge, judgment and wisdom of another are not more useful and applicable than ours.
We must examine the concept of leading and following with new eyes. We must examine the concept of superior and subordinate with increasing skepticism. And we must examine the nature of organizations that demand such distinctions with an entirely different consciousness.”
This is especially true in the church. If we are going to break away from the ongoing struggle for position and power we must first acknowledge the equality of our relationships with one another as a basis for understanding leadership amongst ourselves.
None of us has the permanent role of leader in our relationships. If we assume this, we look past recognizing, acknowledging, and following the leadership of others.
What does this mean for vocational ministers? It means that you are called to be an example of living the mission. It means that you are called to serve others in the body. Given your role of positional responsibility (ht to Scott B) you are especially called to acknowledge and empower the leadership of those among you.
This puts the axe to the root of the traditional clergy/laity divide between the leader and the followers. If you understand that you aren’t presumably the permanent designated leader, then there is the ability to establish a relationship of leadership amongst rather than leadership over.
At the very heart it means that we are willing to submit ourselves to those we live among rather than suggesting that our submission is to an external source and that everyone else is supposed to be submitted to us. It means that we recognize that there are giftings and wisdom in those around us that can be of benefit to us also.
If you have been living the role of the elevated leader, how does it feel to consider stepping down to a peer level with those you have led?
I’m not suggesting that the leadership you have be invalidated. What I am suggesting is that your leadership be used to empower those who have assumed the passive role of follower in an entirely new way.
You have the opportunity to validate the leadership of others and model a reciprocal relationship rather than continuing the unhealthy model of over/under relationships.