August 8, 2016
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I remember seeing a book entitled something like, “The Pastor as CEO.” While I may have the exact title wrong, the idea is that the role of pastor should be modeled after the role of a CEO of a corporation. This, I believe, is contrary to the model of leadership demonstrated and extolled by Jesus.
Jesus spoke of the corporate/military model of “top down” leadership. He said: “…their great ones exercise authority over them…” Then He contrasted his leadership style by saying: “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave…” Again, Jesus proposes servant leadership versus top down leadership.
In Jesus’ model the pastor is not the CEO, but instead is the servant of all. Jesus takes a secular leadership pyramid and turns it upside down. The leader is the servant of all.
This is especially important in the church. In a corporation the leader can fire an employee who does not follow the leader. In the military an officer can punish or even court martial a soldier who refuses orders. But the Christian “army” is a volunteer army. The pastor cannot “fire” or even “court martial” members who refuse to follow. If in fact the pastor is to be the leader, that role does not come to the pastor by virtue of his or her title. Leadership is a gift bestowed upon a pastor by the congregation if they believe the pastor to be authentic, transparent, vulnerable, and truly a servant like Jesus.
As a pastor, I’ve never really had “authority” over anything unless the congregation gives that authority to me. I’ve had influence, but rarely authority. I’ve been able to lead by example or to inspire, and hopefully to point people to Jesus, but I’ve never been the CEO of the church.
In reality, the Church has one Leader, and that is Jesus. He alone is the Head of the Church, not the pastor. The pastor is a servant who, if he or she serves well, receives the gift of leadership from a loving congregation. They follow the pastor because they believe the pastor is following Jesus.
Leadership is a sacrifice—it is self-denial—it is love, it is fearlessness, and it is humility, and it is in the perfectly disciplined will. This is also the distinction between great and little people. The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.
The role of the leader is to enhance, transform, coach, care, trust, and cheerlead. The activities of the leader are to educate, sponsor, coach, and counsel using appropriate timing, tone, consequences, and skills.
Tom Peters and Nancy Austin
Passion for Excellence
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