Roger over at House Church Blog is Re-Thinking Leadership, and I have to say, I like the way he’s thinking. Let’s walk through it… although it looks like I’m quoting fairly extensively, I really am leaving stuff out, and recommend his post for further reading. Before outlining what re-thought leadership looks like, he lays out four presuppositions which build upon one another, and some of the insights here are brilliant.
Presupposition #1: Church is a living entity. Church is an explosion of God’s life through people. It is, by definition, an organic life-force process that God directs….
We have so over-used and mis-understood the term “church” that we often lose the divine nature of it. Church is people, yes, but it is all about God’s divinity—in all of his fullness and life—flowing in and through people. We might want to say that word “church “and envision fire around it and rivers flowing through it just to see clearly the divine-life nature of it. “Church” is inherently God’s own life being transmitted to and through people. In this sense it is organic, a living entity, in the most full-of-life sense imaginable.
Note: we’re not just assembling a bake sale committee. The thing we propose to “lead” (if we dare) is far more majestic, and far less explicable.
Presupposition #2: Organizational leadership, as a model for facilitating church (as a living life-force entity), is inadequate at best and detrimental at worst. Our business/organizational/leadership models are simply not up to the task for facilitating a living, God-directed process.
By definition, our organizational leadership models are about human control: set understandable goals, develop mechanized strategies to reach those goals, implement, evaluate. If you look at this clearly, you can see that we are in trouble right from the start. How can one set understandable goals for something as beyond-this-world as the living church?
Note: “leadership” when we use the term has to do with directing and controling, which are incompatible the thing we’re proposing to lead.
Presupposition #3: God’s way of leadership is foreign to us and therefore difficult to understand and implement. Most of us have been schooled and trained in the type of scientific thinking that makes it relatively easy to embrace organizational/business-type leadership. It simply makes sense to us. So much so, that it is difficult to get our minds around what leadership looks like without that basic paradigm.
The fact is, what we call “servant leadership” is not just a “biblical way” to go about doing organizational leadership. It is a completely different paradigm and basic definition of what leadership is. It simply does not fit into business/organizational leadership models nor does it fit comfortably into the way we think of leadership at all.
Note: we just so don’t understand the leadership paradigm that God wants to see us working from. The required shift is not just methodological, it’s far more fundamental.
Presupposition #4: Leadership, in the way it is meant to be expressed in the church today, is in fact vital. All of this to say that re-envisioning, re-defining, and re-thinking leadership is not just an intellectual exercise. We need today, more than ever, to see the church led by those who “get it”— by those who model rather than preach, who impart it by lifestyle not by platitudes, whose laid-down life is the offering that influences others, and who do not require recognition because their reward is to see the divine-explosion of live, kingdom life, increased on the earth.
Note: we can’t decline or defer this re-thinking of leadership. We need to learn it so we can live it.
Basically, the whole discussion needs to be started at the most fundamental level, defining our terms and seeking to understand just what this animal looks like and how it’s supposed to function. In many ways, we’re starting out already crippled by very strong preconcieved notions (be they cultural, historical, or philosophical) about what we’re looking at and how it should work. And when we catch a glimpse of what the real thing should look like, we’re automatically going to second-guess it because it’s too contrary to be valid… perhaps way too “backwards.” Or just too costly to our own ambition, pride, or comfort.
After all, when God said, “My ways are not your ways,” he really meant, “Other people don’t think like you and I do.” Don’t worry, I’m just being facetious… but really, sometimes we tend to think that we have God’s perspective. We don’t…. but that view is worth trying to set ours aside to obtain. Leaders willing to do so, reluctant leaders perhaps, may find themselves like the Apostle Paul, on display at the end of the procession. Hmmm. No wonder we’d rather be CEOs than Apostles.