Christian Leadership, Synthesis: Ticking the boxes (Part 3)


<— Click here for Part 2 Click here for Part 4 —>
Hegelian Synthesis, leadership style, overseer, shepherd, The Traditional Leader, McBride, Fox, autocratic style, congregational rule, plurality of elders, Stephenson, democratic leader, laissez-faire, The Servant-Leader, Dr Wayne Mack, Clement, John MacArthur

There are so many examples of Godly church leaders yet John MacArthur is the one I pick as an illustration because it was a brief PDF he wrote on Biblical Eldership which really got me ticking on the subject a few years ago (click here to link to the PDF document). Click image to enlarge.

The Hegelian Synthesis (Fox 2005:43) to this conundrum is that I certainly will exercise a leadership style in my new appointment whether or not I care to acknowledge it because as an overseer I’m to administer and supervise and as a shepherd I’m to guard and guide and therefore, “lead, I will.”

However, if I am to argue anything I think it ought to be this: One box isn’t going to do justice to the ministry I’m about to enter. I will need to go beyond myself and endeavour to show leadership traits which straddle multiple styles. The next couple of posts deal with why:

The Traditional Leader

McBride certainly didn’t sound too congenial towards the autocrat leadership style and with good cause. Whether one advocates for congregational rule or a plurality of elders the New Testament certainly does not envisage a single person calling the shots; decisions shouldn’t be made unilaterally. As Stephenson (2007) writes, “An intentionally autocratic system is not a normal or healthy condition for any church and will be rejected by wise leaders and wise church-members alike.”

“One box isn’t going to do justice to the ministry I’m about to enter. I will need to go beyond myself and endeavour to show leadership traits which straddle multiple styles.”

I know from experience the importance of exercising a form of democratic leadership within the church. Shepherds can’t go too far ahead of the flock less the sheep lose sight of them and drift aimlessly.

Because I’ll be working fulltime for the first few months, by necessity, and contra to my personality, I’ll need to allow for a fair amount of laissez-faire.

The multi-styled leader exercises differing styles depending on their group, the issue and the time required to make the decision.

The Servant-Leader

Servant leadership sounds so Christianised doesn’t it? Yet, as far as leadership theory is concerned, it is completely secularised. Reading the Wikipedia (2010) entry on the subject I found references to Chanakya’s writings of the 4th century BC and to Lao-Tzu’s utterances in the 5th but not one reference to Jesus Christ or Scripture.

“The Servant-Leader wields authority rather than power.”

That said I wish to be more and more like my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and as such I’d love to exercise as many of the qualities which He revealed as possible. If we were to say that the progressive attainment of those qualities as they relate to leadership meant one was to be called, in Christian circles at least, a Servant-Leader, then this is certainly a style I’d like to be known for.

Dr Wayne Mack (1999:33) writes, “According to [the Bible], a leader is first and foremost a servant. His concern is not for himself; his concern is not to give orders, to boss other people around, to have his own way. His concern is to meet the needs of others.”

The Servant-Leader is a listener, an empathiser, exercises awareness and gentle persuasion, foresight and good stewardship, is interested in other’s growth and builds their community. The Servant-Leader wields authority rather than power.

The idea of Christians striving to be Servant-Leaders is certainly not new. In the first century Clement (97) wrote, “But the greater [a person] appears to be; the more humble he ought to be, and the more ready to seek the common good in preference to his own.”

May God grant me the honour to be known as a Servant-Leader.

If I had more time on my hands I wouldn’t have made this a practicle discussion regarding which leadership styles I might or might not want to portray in the future but I would have investigated a systematic defence for each motif. As it was I was late in my submission and needed a pass :).

<— Click here for Part 2 Click here for Part 4 —>
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2 thoughts on “Christian Leadership, Synthesis: Ticking the boxes (Part 3)

  1. I’m interested in why you chose John MacArthur (who I haven’t heard of) and not…

    Mother Theresa?
    Pope Benedict 16cm?
    Desmond Tutu?
    Robert Penrith?
    Bethlehem Nopece?
    Njongonkulu Ndungane?
    Thabo Makgoba?
    Ted Haggard?
    Jimmy Swaggart?
    Gene Robinson?
    Rowan Williams?
    Kenneth Meshoe?
    Ray McCauley (or Rhema Callye?)
    Mvume Dandala?
    Billy Graham?
    Errol Naidoo?
    Paul Daniel?
    Me?

    (in no particular order!) ;)

  2. :).

    It’s a good question statement.

    I guess if I’d not have said John MacArthur I’d have said Mark Dever or Alexander Strauch but the South African’s would not have been far behind: Chris Woolley, Virl Tait, Tim Cantrell*, Joel James*… (and the tons of people I’ve not got space to mention)

    I guess my selection was not about celebrity nor was it about nationality but rather about a style or character that I’d like to emulate.

    You haven’t heard of John MacArthur!

    * To anyone who knows them they minister here, live here and love here; so I’m persuaded to add them to a list of South African’s.

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