What is Leadership?

I’ve been struggling to produce a blog every week. I used to sit down and hammer out a month’s worth of material, but lately I’ve written each post a day or two in advance. Some weeks I’ve written two or three rough drafts and scrapped them after realizing my half-hearted, half-baked opinions aren’t interesting.

There’s a story in the book of Acts where Paul visits Athens. He spends time preaching the gospel in the marketplace and is eventually invited to share his message with some of the city’s leading thinkers.

This is how those thinkers are described:

“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:21, ESV)

Many ministers and leaders want to do nothing except tell and hear something new.

I know because I’m a guilty party.

We read blogs, scroll through our Twitter feeds, and listen to podcasts from other leaders, hoping to catch inspiration from a shiny new idea.

Somehow, the ability to formulate, comprehend, and exchange ideas has become synonymous with leadership.

This led a friend to ask me, “Why does the Church even need leaders?”

Maybe our current understanding of leadership is jacked up.

When Paul wrote to his young disciple Timothy, he gave him this leadership advice:

Let no one despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12, ESV)

To Titus, Paul wrote:

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching, show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8, ESV)

So a true leader is the one who lives a certain way, not the one with the freshest ideas.

Of course, this makes perfect sense. The bible is filled with stories of people who did something.

The Sermon on the Mount would have a softer punch if Jesus spent his entire life in a cave, writing sermons.

But he didn’t do that.

Instead, he spent his life touching the sores of lepers and rubbing spit in the eyes of the blind.

Paul didn’t just write encouraging notes to his friends, but spent the majority of his Christian life being beaten half to death and nearly drowning after shipwrecks.

The reason I’m having trouble writing blogs lately is that I’ve been spending most of my time starting a ministry. It’s a lot of me and some friends scribbling on a white board and texting ideas to each other.

The process is exciting, to be sure. But I’m ready to get back to the work of ministry.

If you’re like me and are struggling with how to be a Christian leader, know that you aren’t going to find the answer in a TED talk or leadership blog.

The answer lies in faithful obedience to Jesus.

When other believers see you modeling such faithfulness, perhaps they’ll join you.

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One thought on “What is Leadership?

  1. The danger of leaving a reply is as much a danger as being a leader. The urge to say something new in a catchy way. So here I am crashing in with something to say. Would that be a hypocrisy?

    Part of the issue comes from the belief that leadership needs to mold followers into some sort of Christian image that in reality should not exist at all. We need leaders. We need them to organize worship, to effectively collect and disperse offerings, to create safe environments for spiritual discussions, to accept us the way we are without judgement and the urge to make is just like themselves.

    In Jesus ministry picture we tend to see Him as speaking to Jew’s and Gentiles cut and dried. A clearer picture would be His ministering to multiple Jewish Sects, at least 5 prominent ones, and a pot full of Gentile strongholds. In doing this He exhibited a masterful skill of Leadership which caused great distress in some if the existing power group because He did not specify one above another.

    So maybe the leadership challenge like writing a blog or posting a reply is for the sake of helping one another polish the mirror.

    Peace from beyond boundaries,

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