Mark 10:43-44 “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant (diakonos); and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave (doulos) of all.”
We have a lot of confusion about leadership. Definitions abound. Models, too.
We could talk about transactional leadership, situational leadership, transformational leadership, participative leadership, and a whole lot more. Let’s just talk about Christian leadership for a moment. Specifically, what makes Christian leadership Christian?
Some people assume that a Christian who leads, automatically offers Christian leadership. Not at all. Others suggest that Christian leadership is what happens in Christian environments. There’s no connection. Still others propose that Christian leadership is marked by Christian tasks (prayer, preaching, etc). Not necessarily.
Perhaps it would help if we thought of Christian leadership differently, and with just two simple phrases: servant leadership and spiritual leadership.
Jesus makes it clear that leadership in the kingdom of God means serving, not controlling. Common leadership tends to be task-oriented, success-focused, power-conscious, and status-sensitive. Authority in common leadership is often positional, not moral; people lead because of power rather than character.
Servant-leadership, by contrast, focuses first on building people and building a community. It coaches more than controls, and inverts the usual hierarchy. It requires heavy doses of humility, great commitment to caring, unusual devotion to empowering others, and makes the task secondary to the individual. It is not a single action but a way of thinking; a way of living.
Spiritual leadership, as defined by Henry and Richard Blackaby, is simply “moving people onto God’s agenda.” Much could be said about it, but it presupposes that we know God’s agenda; that we have learned the art of hearing His voice, discerning His Word, and knowing His leading.
That, I suspect, is Christian leadership in a nutshell; servant-leadership and spiritual leadership. If we grasp these two prongs, most everything else falls into place. It stands in stark contrast to the common leadership of our culture; just another vivid example of the upside down kingdom of God.
As we lead others today — in the workplace, the church, the community, or the family — will they see in us the heart of a servant who is in touch with the agenda of God? The world longs for truly Christian leadership. Do we have sufficient faith to really offer it?