Upside Down Leadership

I had lunch today with an older man who mentors dozens of pastors and leaders around our county. I meet with him roughly quarterly. It’s great to have someone to bounce things off and get fresh perspective. He asked me how I was changing and I gave him an example of how everything I thought, is slowly changing. One example I gave him was in the area of leadership.

Leadership for a typical pentecostal is a fairly authoritative affair. The good pentecostal leader seeks God for a “vision”, then sets about casting the vision, obtaining a strategy (also from God), sets goals, and gets about the task. Basically it involves defining some kind of “destiny” for the church and mobilizing the people toward that destiny. It’s not dissimilar to what a CEO might do in a private company.

The hardest thing is to create ownership and keep the people motivated. It’s basically a case of lassoing the people and dragging them down some road that you believe they should be taken. Then it’s just a matter of who is strongest. You’ll either burn-out if you run out of energy first (like me), or if you’re strong and lucky, you’ll get the people there by sheer willpower. All this, is a top-down approach. The leader is in charge of getting the vision, setting the goals, formulating the strategy and mobilizing the people toward the destiny.

I’d do things differently now. In fact, I’d do it upside down – or in reverse. That is, if I ever had the misfortune to be leading people again.

Because I’ve now been vaccinated against motivating large groups of people and keeping them motivated, I’d have to do something very different. I know this is unconventional, and I don’t know anyone doing it, but here’s what it would look like.

I would find out from the people where they wanted to go, and what they see as being their destiny. Then I would serve them by facilitating what is in their hearts. I would try and usher them into what God has put in their hearts already. I would try and help each one find out what they are gifted to do and encourage them to play a role in moving forward that was in-line with their gifting and passion. I would become a miner, of gifts and talents, and try and unearth them and refine them.

It would be a matter of lifting people toward their destiny, rather than in trying to be out front dragging them to some place no-one really wants to go. I would consider that truly servant leadership.

That way I would avoid “using” people and abusing them. I would be giving them dignity and respect. I would presume they could hear from God as well as I could. I wouldn’t be the initiator, God would. I would in some ways, just be the guy clearing the way for the people to reach the destiny God had for them.

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One Response

  1. Lassoing and dragging what ugly words, I’ve just come across your blog by accident and I”m so pleased to read that Jesus has removed you from such an ugly situation. God heals and I pray the holy spirit will heal you.

    The best CEO’s don’t do lassoing and dragging in my experience. Their leadership is much closer to your nurturing ideas. The difference is they develop a story which provides a skeleton for people hang their own talents and creativity on, as a result the company momentum is in the chosen direction.

    I’ve just read the book Mirror To The Church by Emmanuel Katongole which draws painful lessons from the church in Rwanda at the time of the genocide. A situation where the world’s story played more strongly in the church than did God’s story, as a result much of the genocide was perpetrated by the church on the church. Emmanuel draws the conclusion that the Western Church also suffers from the world’s story dominating.

    We need leaders who can explore God’s story, who can stop us in our tracks like Mary did by anointing Jesus’ feet and get us back to God’s story.

    Applying the gifts of the Holy Spirit to God’s story will change the world, His kingdom will come.

    I think what I’m saying is its more than clearing the way for the Church to use its talents, the chaos and anarchy is simply a reflection of confusion about what the story is.

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