Disclaimer: A few words from now, I’m going to make a controversial claim. Ye be warned.
A loaded statement, I know—especially coming from the mouth of a leader. It might sound like I’m on a power trip, for one thing—like I’m trying to bully my hapless minions back into line. Or you might read it as an insult: What, the poor, pitiful masses like us aren’t smart enough to find their own way through life without the help of some anointed luminary? Is that what you’re saying?
Uh… Well, kind of. Yes. Yes I am.
But to be absolutely clear, I’m also squarely placing myself—and every other leader on the planet—into that poor, pitiful mass as well. So I’m not saying you need to be led in particular. I’m saying we all need to be led, period. For one thing, Jesus says we’re all like sheep, prone to go astray. Even leaders must be followers. But secondly, there are two ways to define leadership. One is situational; the other is related to giftedness and calling.
Technically, whenever you take a cue from someone else and go with it, you’re being led. This invisible mantle of leadership passes from person to person like a shifting breeze. It’s based on expertise, insight, and willingness to serve. If I let someone help me get from A to B, I’m submitting to their help—their servant leadership. If my daughter pipes up one Saturday morning, suggesting we take off and drive the mountains—and we agree to do it—she’s just changed the trajectory of our family for a day. That’s a form of leadership. A teachable, humble heart acknowledges that everyone has something to teach me, that I’m a work in process, that during this journey, a million different people get the chance to shine when what they have is needed to move forward. This is what I call situational leadership, and I think you’ll agree that we all need it.
But what about the second kind of leadership—the kind stemming from giftedness, role, and calling? I believe every one of us need that kind of leadership as well. I know some people chafe at this, are afraid of giving people authority and submitting to fallible human beings who often abuse their power. I understand this dis-ease, and I’ve been the victim of abused power many times myself. It hurts. It often develops a mistrust of leadership in our souls. So let’s remind ourselves of something important:
Jesus appoints leaders in the kingdom of God, gifts them to lead, puts them into places of influence, and commands us to submit to their leadership—knowing full well every single one of those leaders are deeply flawed, will hurt people, will totally blow it from time to time, and may occasionally fall into heinous sin that causes damaging ripple effects in His body and subject his name to public disgrace.
He knows all this going in, and still believes in leadership. The implication is, he wants us to know that going in, and he wants us believe in leadership along with him. Even when leaders go wrong.
Tomorrow I want to go deeper into this. Hope you join me.