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Leadership – from the bottom

Leadership is changing.  Most ministry leaders I know, those I’ve spent years with as peers, as a subordinate and as a leader of wrestle this change.  They don’t feel mastery of it, it feels undefined, not from what “I do” but “who I am”.  It is not authority, but a deeper spiritual authority, but so foreign to how we have understood leadership ESPECIALLY in the US.  Most I know who have been exhorted, challenged in this change of leadership are scared off and run back into the castle… and the church goes on… withering, but denying it.  In this postmodern, post-Christendom, post-authoritarian devolution of “the ways we’ve always done it” where entrepreneurial creative class people define their own world, work and lives, the old “Do it because I say so” corporate model is not working.  It is fraying in the corporate world and it is unraveling in the church.

David Fith writes a nice blog – usually thought out.  He’s a pastor of a different kind of church in NW Chicago.  Today he published this blog… enjoy… I have a note at the end:

davidfitch on April 6 2011

We’re Asking For a Different Kind of Leadership

Recently I was talking with a guy who was attempting to lead a missional community. He had come from an established church setting. He was used to understanding church in terms of already established structures. He was constantly tempted to lead by edict. “We need to do this!” “These elders should be doing this!” “We need to ensure that everybody leading local house groups is at this meeting and learning “such and such.” So I tried to tell him this kind of leadership won’t do in the process of gathering and nurturing a community of mission. We need a different kind of leadership from you.

1.) We need a leader who puts forth ideas, vision by I saying “This is where/how I see God working. This is where I hear God calling us” and then ALWAYS submits that to the other person(s) asking – what are you seeing? Where are you going? Is this the way you are being called as well? NOT SOMEONE WHO SAYS “OK THIS IS THE VISION GOD HAS GIVEN ME FOR THIS CHURCH – CAN YOU FOLLOW ME? OR DO YOU NEED TO GO TO ANOTHER CHURCH?

2.) We need a leader who leads by listening and then knows when to ask (out of relationship) “can I speak truth into your life?” NOT SOMEONE WHO TELLS PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED TO HEAR/DO BEFORE HE/SHE EVEN LISTENS

3.) We need a leader who never presumes authority but whose very presence and life makes people want to trust him/her and follow him/her. NOT SOMEONE WHO SEEMS TO ALWAYS BE ACTING OUT OF HIS/HER KNOWLEDGE, EXPERTISE OR PERCEIVED OFFICE.

4.) We need a leader who serves first by example, who embodies the disposition of being in everyday ministry/service to the hurting and then asks someone “can you join me on this?” NOT SOMEONE WHO RUNS THE CHURCH AS IF HE/SHE IS A CEO

5.) We need a leader who can unfurl the reality of the Lordship of Christ in the world and in each one’s life via Scripture, and then invite/challenge people to live there. NOT SOMEONE WHO USES SCRIPTURE TO PREACH A PRE-SCRIBED PRE-DETERMINED AGENDA FOR THE FUTURE ORGANIZATION OF THIS CHURCH.

6.) We need a leader who can cultivate the Kingdom in people, who can sit down with people over a cup of coffee, ask questions, and help each person see that God is “breaking in” through Jesus Christ working for the salvation of this person’s entire life and the people around him/her. And then ask, “how do you respond, how can you be faithful, how will you join in?” NOT SOMEONE WHO HAS A SET OF PRE DETERMINED PROGRAMS THAT HE/SHE WANTS EVERY PERSON TO VOLUNTEER FOR.

7.) We need a leader who can teach many more leaders how to be this kind of leader. NOT THE KIND OF LEADER THAT RECRUITS MORE LEADERS UNDER HIM/HER TO CARRY OUT HIS ORDERS.

I freely admit, that this kind of leadership is most often different than the leadership we have become used to. The other ways of leadership work within an established church systems where there are Christians already compliant and simply content to acquire some necessary Christian goods and services. I should adamently say that there will still be “programs” that develop within a church as a result of this “missional” kind of leadership. These programs however will always facilitate, indeed embody, the rhythms of life with God in His Kingdom/mission. Once we deviate from this, the other kind of leadership habits start to become default. The kind of leadership proposed here however creates certain kinds of habits, certain kinds of dispositions that open the way for God to work His Kingdom among us and around us. There is something of a renewal of this kind of leadership happening among missional communities. I believe it is a recovery of the way Jesus speaks about leadership (did he use that word?). Matt 20:17-28. Read it and take it in. It is the foundation for the revolution (i.e. the Kingdom of God coming).

Perhaps you have an addition or two to the kind of leader we need (this list could be a lot longer!). Please tell us!

My one addition, #8), is We need a leader who is not just open and honest but transparent.  Leaders with no faults, no wrestling, no failing, no shortcomings are not real.  I used to think so and that I couldn’t attain to it.  For me at that time, I felt I couldn’t lead like that person because they were so successful in being Godly…  Today, the leaders I lead, 20’s, 30’s – well – they know when you are full of [insert your dung word].  They know dysfunctional is normal, wounds unanimous, shortcomings without exception.  They will not trust a person who is not real, who is arrogant, puffed up, self assured to the extent they have arrived in their life, theology, methodology.  They want to relate with their leader, not cow tail.  They want to believe in him/her – but a real him/her.  Just watch the latest trilogies – the great leaders we all admire are not perfect, but persevere.

May we be such leaders – Lord knows the church needs us as such!


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