Three years ago, my husband and I were leaders. We had a title and were in the inner circle of power. To be honest, our favorite part of the position was the involvement in peoples’ lives. It was a privilege to be looked to for guidance and to be able to make a difference in someone’s life.
Then suddenly, we weren’t leaders. We turned in our title and badge. Before there were people who turned to us automatically because of our position, now there was no one looking for our help. And I had a leadership identity crisis.
I believe we, as people, are always expressing who we really are. If we weren’t currently serving anyone, then we weren’t leaders. If it is who you are, then it will continue to be true regardless of your circumstances.
Who are you supposed to help when you don’t have a flock already corralled? Why didn’t anyone still want our guidance? Because everyone we knew was at the CLB, and they were off limits to us, someone else’s flock. I missed being involved in peoples’ lives.
We said, “That’s okay, we don’t need to be leaders. We’ll just retreat to the sidelines for awhile.”
Occasionally, people would prod us, saying, “you can’t just deny that you are leaders.”
But what does that mean?
You see, all of this processing about leadership wasn’t as much about what someone else is doing as it was about “who am I?”We have become pretty comfortable on the sidelines. As one of our hippy friends would say, “It’s a safe place maaannn.”
Reading Graham Cooke’s thoughts about leadership as serving/stewardship/slavery challenged me to reconsider the idea of leadership. Would I be willing to take on the responsibilities of leadership? What kind of steward will I be of what God has given me?
At first I was willing to only consider serving to the point that it didn’t involve anything that remotely looked like leadership. In order to move beyond that mental block, I needed a paradigm of leadership that I could trust and models of leadership that made sense.
In the previous posts, I’ve already explained my current paradigm of leadership. Some of the models of leadership that make sense to me are the following:
Leadership as catalyst.
“A catalyst is the kind of person who gets things going and then fades into the background ceding control to members. As there is often no hierarchy and no headquarters the best a person can do to influence people is to lead by example.”
(ht to Jonny Baker)
This is actually the most challenging model to me, but I think it is important. Those who launch something automatically have a vested interest and sense of ownership in it. That is the challenging aspect, directing without controlling, steering without dominating.
Leadership as empowerment.
“Leadership” is not a biblical mandate for New Testament communities. Service, however, is. Those who are in positional authority are there because of their desire to serve – to empower – others. They do not keep power for their own purposes. They give it away – empowering others and enabling them to do the same.
New Testament authority is not “power over”. In fact, that is something that is explicitly forbidden by Christ. Instead, the greatest are to be distinguished by their great service – by their greatness in humility, in empowering others and in their self-giving.
(ht to Scott B)
This is the model that really excites me. To have the opportunity to draw out the capabilities in other people and create a place and opportunity for them to exercise the giftings that God has put in their heart is such an incredible privilege.
Leadership as hubbing.
“The function of leading within a Christ-cluster links other nodes, fosters interpersonal relationship and facilitates connection, and is open to getting out of the way, encouraging the new relationship to develop as those in relationship self-determine.”
(ht to Dwight Friesen)
I love this idea. We can facilitate people in their relationship with the Lord, and we can facilitate relationships among the body of Christ in an interconnected way that is more fluid than the boundaried relationships we have previously seen in churches.
A couple of other links of friends who have recently written incredible posts on the topic of leadership. You don’t want to miss these:
From Alan Knox: Don’t follow the leader, follow the person already serving!
From Jamie Arpin-Ricci: An amazing list of characteristics of leadership that one should have on file but also especially in their heart as a leader.
Anyway, for me, there has been some nudging within lately to step up to the plate. I’m not sure exactly what that will look like, but I know that willingness is what is required of me at this time and a desire to be formed by the One who demonstrated a life of pouring out Himself for others.