Friday, February 16, 2007

leadership and the church

"Whoever wants to be first, must but be last . . . Whoever wants to be the greatest, must be the servant to all." - Jesus, 1st Century

I attended the first of 8 sessions on leadership development last night at my church. We have invited Pastor Larry Austin from the nearby First Evangelical Free Church of Ames to build into 20 people from the Free Church in Boone over the next several months. It's called "Leadership Training 101" and it's designed to help people see the difference between spiritual/sacred leadership and secular-based leadership.

Last night we looked at the importance of character and humility as the foundation of a spiritual leader. All good stuff. I am excited about the opportunity to learn and be challenged by this humble and faithful pastor.

I think one of the most interesting discussions we had last night was the difference between leadership progression in the church vs. the work place. In the secular world people progress up the leadership latter through education and training, making friends, honing their skills, and through previous success. Sadly, in the church a similar structure exists for finding spiritual leaders. We find people with warm bodies and a pulse and ask them to be a spiritual leader. The ones who "succeed" we give positions of greater authority and influence.

Jesus used a different system with the early disciples. He looked at their hearts. If only "successful" disciples were allowed to become members of the apostolic team, Peter never would have made it . . . probably not many of the 12 would have made it. Instead, God allows us to learn from mistakes. He wants us to express and identify our weaknesses, because God is made perfect in our weaknesses. There's a new book out called "Leadership with a Limp" that I think describes appropriately the kind of person God uses. One who is honest with their weaknesses, remains humble, and doesn't try and hide from or control people in order to cover up their insecurities. That's the kind of person we all long to follow. Truly the person who takes the last position will be first.

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