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Leaders and followers

How do we find our leaders?

My wife and I are leaders, reluctant leaders, taking Moses as our model rather than Donald Trump or Richard Branson. We wouldn’t call ourselves leaders, don’t act according to the usual definitions, but we are still recognised as such by others. It is a function, not a position. We don’t revel in it, certainly don’t profit from it, just get on with the job that God has given us, mainly the planning and running of the Foundations conferences. People follow us because they can see that we are basically no different from them. They follow us because they can see the wider picture of God’s plans for our ministry and see how they can fit into His vision according to their gifts and talents. The key is in the personal pronoun – it is His vision, not our vision. We are as privileged to initiate His vision as are those who share in it and work alongside us in implementing it. Too many visionaries have held onto God’s vision, as if it is their own, and not allowed it to flourish by allowing others to share it. Too many ministries have gone awry because of this and have lost so much blessing from our Heavenly Father. We must learn to let go … and let God!

Let’s read Luke 22:26 and remind ourselves of Jesus’ model for leadership.

But you are not to be like that. Instead the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”

We are all members of the Body of Christ. In this great picture we all have equal billing, none is grander in God’s eyes than any other. There is no difference between the leaders and the humblest followers. Doesn’t Paul tell us, ‘its parts should have equal concern for each other’ (1 Corinthians 12:25).

Leaders should be working alongside the rest of us, not above us looking down, or – perish the thought - pressing down. Leadership is a vocation, an honour, a privilege, not a licence for domination and personal fulfilment. If it is divinely given, then it can also be taken away!

So, how should this all work? It is perhaps easier to start as one means to go on and think about such things when at the earliest stages of birthing a ministry. But what about the following scenarios?

You are in leadership of a church or ministry and you have been convicted of the need to make changes, more in line with Biblical styles of leadership. How do you make the transition?

You have inherited leadership of a church or ministry where the current setup is somewhat toxic and in drastic need of change. How do you implement these changes?

Well, if you are God’s man (or woman) for the job, then God will provide the wisdom to add to the leadership skills you already have. In the first scenario you will need to live out the Bible verses that speak into the situation and take them seriously as, unlike some verses that require context, these speak for themselves.

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

Taking this as a whole we realise what a high bar God has created for those selected to lead His people. A mark of a true spiritual leader has to be someone faithful to his wife, with a self-controlled and even-tempered nature, respectable, hospitable and the rest. Let’s be honest, how many of our leaders can tick all of these boxes? After all it is a noble task, a calling not a career move. Anyone considering Christian leadership must realise that there is more sacrifice involved than is evident from observing many already in “leadership”.

If you display these credentials then it will be clear to others that you are honouring God, reflecting Jesus and engaging with the Holy Spirit. As a result of this you should find that your ideas will be respected, as long as you are sensitive in your approach and tread carefully with some of the more brittle personalities.

In the second scenario, where you may be inheriting a flawed structure, the above still holds true … but with a lot more care and attention … and prayer.

The final word on leadership is from Simon Peter.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)

This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp

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