Our book discussion on Finding Church continues with chapter 18: Equipping Without Subduing. For the last two centuries the view of leadership in Christianity is remarkable similar to the world’s view with command and control at the heart of leadership. How does that work in a kingdom where leaders don’t “lord over” and where we are all brothers and sisters before anything else?
Not. Very. Well. If Jesus is going to be the head of his church then we need different kind of leadership–not those who can manage crowds with their charisma and humor, but those who can equip people to know, listen to, and follow the Head himself. In fact, “leadership” isn’t a great translation for anything in the New Testament. The words and application would be far better translated “catalyst” or “facilitators,’ and the challenge isn’t to get people to follow you, it’s to get them to follow Jesus without making them dependent on you or your program.
It seems both Old Testament history and 2000 years of Christianity would prove that people would rather follow a human leader than to learn to follow Christ. Why do you think that is? Why are people so afraid to listen to Jesus lead and direct them, and why do so many men and women seek to replace Jesus in people’s hearts by telling them what to do, rather than equipping them to know him.
Excerpt from Chapter 18:
That’s why the term leadership is difficult to use inside the new creation. People see it as a management role instead of a gift to help others. So when Paul wrote about elders, overseers, or ministry gifts, he’s talking about those who help others mature, not those who manage institutions. And when we take the words of Hebrews to “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority,” (13:17) and apply them to old creation constructs, we get distorted views of leadership and end up seeking out the wrong people to lead. How often has this Scripture been used by so-called leaders to great harm as a divine sanction for whatever power they wanted to hold over others? Rather than demanding unquestioned submission, the writer was simply appealing to the younger ones to not make it difficult for their older brothers and sisters to help them grow.
You can find the discussion board here and see the list of topics we’ve covered. You can start at Chapter 1 and work your way through, or just join us in Chapter 18.