Let’s see if I can remember how to blog…I have been following the recent posts about whether leadership is “biblical.”
It is difficult to have this conversation without first defining the underlying assumptions and values regarding relationships and organizational structures.
To the degree that growth, efficiency, effectiveness, success, and influence are the aspired values, business principles of leadership are applicable and helpful.
It may be completely appropriate to apply business principles to the administrative functions of church. The complexity of the structure determines the complexity of organizational leadership that is necessary.
However, if your personal theology or ecclesiology assumes that the church should reflect an alternative way of relating that is different than a successful business organization, business principles may be antithetical to your aspired values.
Also, if your personal theology or ecclesiology values leadership roles, authority, and headship, it is likely you can “prove” your position with the appropriate scriptures.
However, if another person values mutual submission under the leadership of Christ, they will come to different conclusions about “biblical” leadership.
One of the reasons discussions about church leadership are confusing is because there is a strong tendency to transpose organizational structures and roles into the relational life of the church.
It is typically assumed that positional roles of organizational leadership translate into authority over other believers. By attaching the verbage of servant leadership, gifts, and callings, the role of leadership is given a benevolent, spiritual spin.
The most visible leaders today do not necessarily exemplify the best leadership that occurs in the church. Leadership is evident in the service of others, not in the assertion of position and titles. Organizational leadership does not equal spiritual authority.
In our society, it is difficult to use the term leader without assuming an elevated status. It is nearly impossible for people to understand leadership without attaching some form of hierarchy and creating a role of control or dependency. I do not believe that there are people selected by God to be in a position of spiritual rulership over other believers. Relationships in the body of Christ are mutual and always mindful of Jesus as the Head and Leader.
There is a form of kingdom leadership that will not lead to organizational success. It will take you down a path that few want to follow and it will put you in positions of service that go completely unnoticed. It is counter-intuitive not to expand your influence, not to capitalize on your efforts, not to sell your vision, not to create a following. It is counter-cultural to serve in obscurity, without recognition, with little to show for yourself in comparison to those who hold up the fruit of influence. There is a point where you choose to let go of the opportunity to be important or to command attention. You actually reject situations that would contribute to your personal influence and instead pour yourself into situations that hold no potential for personal advancement. You leave the leadership track in pursuit of a value more subversive than greatness.
We won’t hear much about these radical examples of kingdom leadership.
If you aspire to the “success” model of leadership, I wouldn’t recommend this route.