Leadership and the cost – in time and space
It seems to me that there is a great gulf in our understanding of Biblical style leadership. In many ways those of us who think of ourselves as follower of Jesus are more often than not influenced by Greek thinking and philosophy than we are by Judeo-Christian thinking and influence. What is worse is that we think that the Greek way of thinking and its philosophy is actually Judeo-Christian and it isn’t!
We are talking at this time about leadership, and the whole Judeo-Christian Greek thing is another issue, but I have mentioned it now because of the way that Jesus led and I contrast that with what is often perceived when we lead
ing in today’s world. What we tend to do is preach, or perhaps we would use the words teach or even lecture. Usually that takes place from the front of some building and what is really happening is information is being passed from someone’s brain though their vocal cords out of their mouth and into, they hope, their listener’s ears. This then is regarded as leading, and of course it is, but actually it’s a Greek style of leadership.
In contrast the Judeo-Christian style of leadership is much more involved, and we see it very clearly in the servant leadership style of Jesus. From out of his many disciples he choose twelve of them, then said ‘follow me’, and for three years they followed him, or if you like followed His leadership. That ‘following’ is very involved, for Jesus and for the disciples; they are living together, walking together, eating together, watching what Jesus does, sometimes helping him do it, like distributing baskets of bread and fish, and then sometimes Jesus will say ‘off you go and do it by yourself’, and then when they hit problems, they go back to Jesus and say, ‘we can’t seem to do this, please help’. Jesus also regularly spends time in what perhaps we would now call a tutorial group, talking to them and answering some of their questions, often to our modern frustration, with new questions. Yes, Jesus occasionally preaches, but actually that is quite rare, most of the time he is walking, talking, doing and showing.
Here is a couple of my stories to illustrate what I’m talking about; some years ago one of our leaders said to me ‘why does so and so do what you ask them to do, but they often don’t when I ask them, and yet I am a leader just like you’. I didn’t go into detail about leadership but responded, ‘well actually they lived in my house for two years, I saw them every day, they had breakfast with me almost every morning, they came home at night and I was there, in fact I was probably with them more than they were with anyone else so perhaps my life input to them has influenced them strongly and they are therefore willing to help me, or to do what I ask’. The leader replied, ‘Oh but I don’t want other people living in my house and to be involved with them to that extent.’ To which I replied, ‘well then you don’t get the response from them that I do, which is how it works!’
The second story happened some years ago, a young lady came to me and said, ‘this is my brother’, I said, ‘Hi,’ and then she said, ‘I want to give him to you.’ I looked a little surprised and said as polity as possible, ‘that’s fine but thank you I don’t want him.’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘you don’t understand he has been to a Christian camp and he has become a Christian.’ I said, ‘I think that is great, fantastic!’ ‘No, no!’ she said again, ‘you still don’t understand, that happened to him last year and the year before and the year before that, and two weeks after he gets home he is a bad as ever, I know that because I am his sister.’ By now I was very curious and said, ‘so what do you want me to do?’, she told me, ‘I want you to look after him and take him with you wherever you go. ‘
And so I did, much to the disgust of my girl friend at the time, because every time we went out the guy was in tow, it was a pain, but I did try to share with him what little bit I knew, and so wherever I went he went too. And just in case you’re wondering, he isn’t following me around anymore but he is still a strong follower of Jesus, and leading others.
Now what I am trying to say, and hoping you get it, is that this kind of Judeo-Christian leadership has at its heart the servant lifestyle to start with, but also it is quite costly, costly personally I mean, for it will take our time, our commitment, and to have people us a lot can sometimes be a real pressure. What you are really giving to the people that you are leading is, in fact, your life. When you think about it the person we so often claim to be following did just that, gave us his life, that we might live, and lead others. Do you want to be a leader? Can you give your life?
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Editor A Brookes