What is Leadership? Part 2
Darren Blaney continues his series on leadership, picking out five keys to avoid wandering off on your own, not God's, agenda
Part 1: Do Baptist churches need leaders?
So leadership is influence. Is that it? Is that all?
Surely the question is: influence to what end?
One Christian writer has suggested that the essence of Christian leadership, as opposed to other types, is to move people from following their own agendas onto following God's agenda for their lives.
I like this definition. It reminds me that:
People Have Plans for Their Lives That Aren't Necessarily God's! Even as Christians, we struggle with sinful desires, and we want things that meet the needs of our ego rather than representing what is God's best for us.
But also that....
I Must Be Especially Aware of This Danger Within Myself as a Leader. It is not my job to get people to support my latest good idea or pet project. Oh how I wish someone had drummed that into me when I was a young pastor. Leadership is not about MY will, it is about HIS will.
That, of course, is easier said than done. How does a leader avoid the all-too-common trap of believing that his or her will is God's will? As a young leader I would find myself saying “I have prayed about it.” One quickly discovers that that is as much a guarantee of correctness as reading the Bible guarantees orthodoxy.
Upon reflection, I believe that In order to avoid this snare, then as a leader I must:
1. Be as submitted to God and His will as I can be. This is about an inner attitude; one that says 'I really have no personal, vested interest in the outcome here. I genuinely want Your Will, whatever that may be.' That means being prepared to die to our own dreams, that His vision may emerge.
2. Know myself, especially where I am likely to be led astray. This comes through the reflection on my experience, perhaps through keeping a journal. Another great help in this regard is....
3. Have a few, wise, close friends who are unafraid to speak the truth to me. These tend to be the people who I know believe in me, and are 'giving it to me straight' for no other reason than that they want me to become the best for God that I can.
4. Develop a good working knowledge of the Bible, as this contains the only truly reliable disclosure of God's will. By this I mean the sort of regular, systematic reading of the Bible that takes one through the whole of Scripture. We must resist the danger of just going to our favourite passages again and again. There are many good guides that will take one through the Bible in anything from one year to three and a bit. A good place to start is with the excellent E100 materials that give one an overview of the whole Bible through one hundred carefully selected chapters.
Such a comprehensive and ever growing knowledge of God's word helps us to see the Big Picture. It reminds us of God's priorities, and (to quote our American cousins) helps us to keep the main things, the main things. It is when a church, and especially a leader, loses this grip on God's Word, that all-too-often a group ends up majoring on minors.
5. Build a healthy and on-going relationship with the Lord. I don't just mean 'have a quiet time'. This means finding time for thoughtful, unhurried prayer and engagement with Scripture. How does one find time for this? Do you want to be a leader or not? We have more than enough busy, driven, self-obsessed, spiritual shallow activists. We don't need any more. We need men and women who know what it is to be called by God, just as the 12 were summoned by Jesus.
What kind of leader do you want to be? Remember, you can't influence others off of their own agendas onto God's agenda, if you are not continually doing the same in your life!
As you review the Five Keys to help you avoid wandering-off on your own agenda, how are you doing with them? Pick one. Just one. And discuss with a friend this week how you can grow in this area. And hold each other accountable to do something about it!
The Revd Darren Blaney is Pastor of Herne Bay Baptist Church
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