Church culture is obsessed with leadership. Our bookshelves sag beneath the weight of the subject.
Oddly enough almost all that's written is about being a better leader, while precious little is given to making leaders. The subject being bought and sold might not really be leadership at all but rather how to get a whole bunch of people to do what you want.
Donald Trump is famous for a reason. He is a caricature of our own heart, the fleshed out reality of our own secret hopes. Nothing else could explain how someone as obnoxious and pompous could have such a large audience for so many years. It is evidence that our thirst for power has few limits.
This is not to say that leadership is bad. If anything significant is to happen there will be a leader somewhere casting vision, assembling and organizing talent, and shaping the process along the way.
Shots have to be called, even if simply for the sake of efficiency. Leaders dream. Leaders gather. Leaders take risks. Leaders impart courage and boldness. Leaders provide a plan. Leaders make things happen, and that’s a good thing.
The main issue for those leading the church is simple: what is our supreme value? Simply leading? Or the God we are following?
It’s easy to get caught in the swirl of bigger is better and becoming a more influential leader. It looks good on the outside, but I wonder is some of this zeal isn’t just another thick coat of whitewash on the tomb of our flesh.
In a church world where pastors have more and more in common with Steve Jobs or Donald Trump than with Jesus the Good Shepherd certain passages pop off the page.
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:12-16
There's no question that Moses was a leader – he had hundreds of thousands if not a few million people in tow, but the strength of his influence wasn’t found in his natural abilities – he stuttered – or the books that he had read – he was more of a writer, in stone to be exact, but in the company that he kept – namely the presence of God.
Moses was a leader, but I, for one am struck by Moses the follower! Cloud by day and fire by night with Moses right behind. His counsel came from his face to face encounters with God in the tent of meeting where ‘anyone could go’ (33:7) but apparently, only he and Joshua went – the mark of real leadership within the church is going where few dare to go, not necessarily deeper into books or across the country to another conference, but into the very presence of God!
Whatever you lead this year, let it be from a place of being led – from the place where ‘anyone can go’ – before God, face to face.