The Epidemic of Leadership

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 4.56.21 PM

Leadership. I like it. I’m interested in it. At the risk of sounding like Paul in his letter to the Philippians, let me throw this out there;

I’m a C-level executive. I work with a Lakewood Church sized budget. I have the formal education and training. I speak at executive conferences. I do the seminars. I read the books. I mentor promising junior executives. I’m certainly not opposed to leadership.

But that’s because my charter is clear, and it’s defined by the stakeholders of my company. It’s measurable, and it’s pragmatic.  It has a cash-value bottom line. I’m asked to create strategic and “vision” documents to chart the course for my organization.

So… why is there such a fascination with leadership in the church? Why would your pastor be reading the same books and following the same leadership blogs that I am?

There is a drought of leadership in the church, but it’s not due to the lack of leadership training at the pastoral level.

The problem is that we’ve forgotten our charter.

Sure, for the sake of mission we get the “to do” right:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching themto observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)


So, with the “do” (imperative) in hand, we default to doing what our heart desires… taking the reins, rolling up our sleeves and doing it ourselves.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 4.45.56 PM

So, we look for the tools of the trade around us: leadership, marketing, demographics, techniques, etc.  And these tools work for their intended purposes. They work well in my chosen career. They can certainly mobilize, organize and energize a group of people to unite behind a cause.  Unfortunately, that cause could be anything from building a new city library, to creating a terrorist organization. There is nothing inherently Christian about these tools.

But what if we look at the “why” (imperative) of the great commission?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV)

We find no “bottom line” pragmatism here. No call to “hit our numbers” for the quarter. Our charter is clear: All authority has been given to Jesus (the why) so we are sent to make disciples, baptize, and teach.

And we’ve even been given the “how” (means) of how we will fulfill this call: Jesus will be with us. And so He is, in the preached word of His gospel. In the body and blood of communion. And in the water of baptism.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 4.59.41 PM

So, we have an epidemic of leadership in the church. Not because we value leadership, but because we have a current obsession with being leaders.

The leadership position has been filled: All authority is given to Christ.

The mission has been made clear: Make disciples, baptize, and teach the scriptures.

The means has been made clear: Christ with us in word and sacrament.

So to jump on the latest leadership fad, to replace the activities of discipleship, baptism, and teaching of scripture with anything else, and to use the tools of western business is to replace the authority of Christ, the Great Commission, and the Means of Grace.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 4.46.54 PM

You may be successful by the metrics of business, but the “performance” review may go really, really poorly for you when you are called to give an account for your performance.

I’m NOT saying that we don’t have church leadership. We not only need, but are directed by scripture to have church leadership to whom we are to model as they model Christ. Please don’t see this as a screed against “leaders”. I’m simply trying to challenge the notion that “leadership” in a wester business model (with it’s method, measure, and metric) is for the church.

So, do you believe that all authority has been given to Jesus?

Do you believe He is mighty to save His people and send you to disciple, baptize, and teach scripture?

Do you believe He will do so with the simple means of grace?

Do your actions show this, or do you really.. deep down.. believe that you need to employ the better technique, the better plan, the better program to really get it done?

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 4.46.21 PM

I can certainly tell you how I would handle a subordinate who took over my office, replaced my gameplan with their own, and did so under their own power.  How much more accountable are we to Jesus and His Great Commission?

Just a thought.






One thought on “The Epidemic of Leadership”

Comments are closed.