Another aspect of the Church that people often neglect is the power of leadership! By leadership I do not mean position and titles; Leadership is influence. The Church needs strong influence if it is to grow. We cannot close our eyes to the leadership crisis in the Church. I often imagine five things about able leadership. A leadership for all, visionary leadership, a passionate leadership, relational leadership, servant leadership.
Leadership for all, the Bible teaches us that we are all priests in the house of God. I believe firmly that all human beings are leaders. Humans are made to lead! You see that human beings are made in the image of God, which to me entails the aspect of leadership. Priesthood of all believers has been compromised by the numerous cartels of people who abrogate to themselves the role of leadership. We must break these groups if the Church is to be as it should be. Leadership is meant to be inclusive, that’s why there is a “ship” in the word leadership. (Just as there is a “ship” in the word fellowship. One person said fellowship is what two fellows do in a ship: work together). I suggest that we look for ways to allow as many people into leadership roles as we can. This way we unleash the power of creativity in the Church than has ever been known before. I am always amazed at what some people, who we consider back benchers, can do if they take a leading role in an event. You see when you are at the back you see more what needs to be done in the Church than when you are at the front. This is why we must not have the same people leading all the time. People at the front must take their turn to be at the back to learn more! When we are accustomed to leadership we develop blind spots that greatly hamper growth of the Church. The growth curve in leadership grows up then down. When we rich the apex we begin to go down. Why? Because we have exhausted what we needed to fix. If we step back we will see more and thus develop a new agenda for another session of growth. We step back by either reinventing ourselves or introduce fresh leadership. The point is home we must not have leadership of a few, we must have all leading! That is the way Jesus intended it, that is Church as it should be.
Visionary leadership. This is a subject that has been well addressed in many writings so I need not belabor the point. However it is important to mention that vision is the missing ingredient in the growth of many a Church. We must always ask “what if?” This question to me is the life of the Church. What if we do it this way. What if we change this and what if we try this new method. Those of us who ask, “what if?” cannot relax we create! We make new things, we develop new ways, we look for new people. We must not say things are OK now. Or that things have always been this way. Such attitudes kill the Church (it has been said that the seven last words of a dying Church is, “We have always done it this way.”
I must warn you however that this attitude of change is resisted by many. In fact it is in the nature of human beings to resist change. We are creatures of habit so we do not want to Change. But growth is about change. If children do not change in height or weight the parents have reasons to get worried! So is a Church that does not Change. One of my teachers said jokingly that if as a pastor, you go to a Church and find that there is nothing to Change then ask the people to sit facing the opposite direction! Preach from the back! Do something different. But here is the subtle thing about change. While human beings resist the process of change, human beings also love something different and good. They admire if one does things nicely in a different way. There is thrill of new adventure! There is desire for something new! The love for Change. Jesus also said the same about his ministry he did not come to maintain status quo he came to bring change. Of coarse not all change is good. When people change to become animals then that is not growth it is mutation. Change must be within the parameters of what it means to be a Biblical Church. The foundations must not be compromised for the sake of Change. So back to vision – vision is the ability to predict and see things before they are! It is the dare-to-dream attitude. When the Church has vision it sees the trends of the future before they are. It makes radical decisions about the future. Such a Church moves with the times. It does not become trendy! It becomes relevant. I cannot finish without saying that vision does just not grow from our experience with people but also from our moments before God. The Church is his agenda and we must be broken before him and ask what he wants us to do. So again there you are Church leadership as it should be; visionary.
Another aspect is passion. I do not think we can learn about this, it is either we have it or we don’t. I want a person with passion any day than a person filled with knowledge but lacking passion. Passion is the drive, the joy, the euphoria that drives a vision. In Christian circles it is often called zeal! If we are not excited about what we are doing then the spirit of pessimism and doubt creeps in. Leaders must be passionate about their Church and that passion must be infectious! Where people are possessed with passion for the work of God, there is exuberance and joy. And what a joy it is to be in such a Church! You see, in the Church the joy of service is the reward of service. If we do not have joy in what we do, then we do not give our best. We do it grudgingly with complaining. The Church is an army of volunteers whose sole energy is passion. Leaders are cheer leaders, they cheer on the squad. They say to the weakest, “you can do it!” And to the strong, “you are our best we depend on you!” And to those in the middle, “you are part of the team, I will walk with you!” We must stir up passion in our Churches. A Church ceases to grow when people feel the same old way. Passion must drive us! We must make sure that everybody is not happy until they give their 101% ! This has to come from the pulpit, the bible studies, the youth meetings, the children’s ministry and most of all through personal interaction.
Leadership in the Church must grasp the meaning of relational leadership. It is easy to be driven by programs and activities and things to do, whereas only one thing is important: people. People are the sole resource of the Church. If you don’t believe it walk with me. Where do we get the money to run the programs? People. Where do we get the workforce for doing ministry? People. Who do we preach to? People. . . . In short the Church needs people. One Pastor after being in trouble with many members of his congregation exclaimed, “Oh, how wonderful the Church will be without People?” But you see how wrong he was! You cannot have a Church without people. It is people who drive the Churches agenda. It has also been said that if we think we are leading and when we look behind we see no people then we are just but taking a walk! People are important. Leadership itself has two dimensions: Concept – where we are going, and Relationship- who we are going with. The glue of the Church must be healthy relationships and that begins with the leaders. Leaders ought to identify who is struggling with relationships. Who is hurt, who needs that extra attention. It is the responsibility of the leader to hold the thermometer of relationships! Maybe you are asking, what about leaders who cannot relate? My answer is simple; they are not fit for leadership! They need to work on it or quit! Poor relationships kill the Church. I have been in such situation where I felt my relationship with certain individuals was smothering the life of the Church. I couldn’t preach freely. I couldn’t minister with a clean conscience. In such situations I simply quit. Then continued to work on the relationships from a position of less engagement with that Church. We must relate and that too, is Church as it should be!
But probably the most misused and misunderstood concept of Christian leadership is the aspect of servant leadership. People think that a few actions of humility display servant leadership. I beg to disagree. Servant leadership is a process of developing Christ like leaders. According to Dr Bill Lawrence of Leadership Formation International, we cannot lead until we are broken! It took sometime for me to understand what he meant by being broken. You see when they were still dealing in slave trade, they did not send a slave to work in the fields until they were sure that that slave is broken. This involved torture and humiliation to the point where the slave gave up he will to resist and became subservient. It works the same with horses! You cannot ride them u till they are broken. People will tie a horse to a pole, starve it and mistreat it until it’s strong will is broken. Until it accepts to be ridden without resistance. So where does this relate with servant leadership. It is all a question of the will! Our will or the master’s will! We must understand that we are not asked to be Servants but slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. So actually it should not be servant leadership it should be slaves as leaders! To be his slaves we must be broken. We must be so broken that there will be no trait of our ego! It will be only him! Only in such a state can we say as Paul said, “it is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” True servant-hood is where our will is lost! We no longer remember that we are serving! It becomes second nature. Bill McCartly in his book, Blind Spots that may be keeping your Church from growing, observes that. The process of change happens as follows. We begin by unconscious ignorance about our situation. In this case we begin by being unconscious of our lack of Servant-hood. Then we move to conscious knowledge that we must be servant leaders. Then lastly we lose our consciousness of our Servant-hood and it becomes part of our nature. I don’t want to say I have servant leadership, because if I do then it means I have arrived! And that is a clear indicator that I do not have it! This is humility, you never say I have humility because by saying it you loose it! We should always need more! More Servant-hood, more like Jesus! And of course the Church will be as it should be!