Monday, October 02, 2017

An Unexpected Discipline - Leadership

In leadership lies one of the great challenges of the gifts of God, which can always be perverted towards sin.  It is an unexpected discipline to find that our greatest temptation may lie in the center of our greatest gift or collection of gifts needed for most leaders.  

This is my theory of strengths and weaknesses:  In every strength lies weakness and in every weakness lies evidence of possible strength.  In leadership, when one has been chose by people or God, this truth can be magnified and the examples are prolific.

A person who knows how to get things done, might do so with no consideration of others.  The task takes precedence over the people. Work relationships are strained; home relationships are sacrificed; even the leader's health is compromised, all for the cause or task.

A person who is trying to bring a team together for a worthy cause, endeavor or even the advancement of the Gospel may mistake the way to do team-building, thinking it the cause or endeavor alone is that which causes people to bond.  The significance of the phrase "team-building" is forgotten and the cause - though right or pure - is subjected to a tyranny that destroys the team.  As Simon Sinek says, "A team is not a group of people who work together.  A team is a group of people who trust each other."

Especially when talented people are put in position as leaders in their skill area in the Kingdom of Heaven, with the best of intentions, they can miss the mark of who is to be served and who is to get the glory.  The attention given a servant of God is easily translated into glory for the servant and not God.

Beware of the unexpected discipline - the test and lessons - of leadership where new possibility for movement towards God or sin can immediately present themselves.  Beware of virtues in which sin lies-in-wait, and strengths, which can devolve into weaknesses.

Prayer-led attention to the dangers of leadership can increase a person's ability to stay humble and effective as a leader:

  • Remember whose purposes you serve - God's and not your own.  This can be examined in your agenda, your focus, your measure of success.
  • Be careful of rule-making which leadership often concocts in order to protect its position.  This can leave a leader unchanged and unbending, and which a leader can come to trust more than God.
  • Be careful of rules which only serve the cause and not people, often superseding compassion and love.  Rules, which are needed for structure and due process in an organization, can become a vehicle for hypocrisy.  This happens when I, as the leader, use them to measure you but not myself.

The apostle Paul speaks very well of the dangers of leadership, whether it draws criticism or praise.  As divisions were arising among Christians as to whose leadership was better or worse, Paul or Apollos, Paul refused to take part in the criticism or praise. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)

Let a man regard us (Paul and Apollos) in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  It is required that stewards be found trustworthy of their call and gifts.  For me, it is a small thing to be examined by you, or by any human court.  In fact, I do not even judge myself.

For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not relieved by this nor unaccountable by my own judgment, but the one who examines me is the Lord.  So, I do not go on passing judgment by any but the Lord.  In time he will reveal; he will bring light to the things hidden in darkness and will disclose the motives of people's hearts.  Then each man's praise will come to him from God.

Each leader, who has followed Paul, should trust that same standard:  God's.  Trust not your own heart, nor the praise or criticism of people.  Do not let yourself be deceived by yourself.

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

Truth! Isn't it ironic how our greatest gifts can become a source of our greatest faults if we're not careful? It just reminds me of how important it is to keep our eyes on Jesus and stay close to Him so we'll know exactly how to lead, serve, and submit all to HIM! In God's economy individuals are never overlooked for the bigger picture-the bigger picture is actually accomplished one step at a time, one person at a time. God can do both accomplish His mission while ministering to everyone and to HIM every single person matters!
Thanks for this!