Monday, June 12, 2006

Why Do You Want to Lead?

Over the past several months, I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading about leadership; what it is, what it is not, how it is expressed. I am concerned that for many, even Christians (and to be honest, even myself at times), leadership tends to be about position, status, power, and the ability to get one's own agenda, dreams or desires moved to the front burner of the organization. Concern that they will not live up to their own potential or find personal fulfillment marks the lives of too many involved in the work of the Kingdom. When you talk to many today, it soon becomes evident that their primary focus tends to be on how they can best accomplish what they believe God has called them to do. It all tends to be so individualistic and, yes, even self-serving. And when change or re-evaluation become necessary in an organization, as they inevitably do, they are often viewed with concern by such leaders principally with an eye on how these inevitabilities might potentially impact on them personally, rather than on how the lives and ministry of others or the organization as a whole might be enhanced. It is almost as if the organization exists to meet their needs and not the other way around. At the very least, they reason, the two are not incompatible.

Perhaps. But if potential and fulfillment are to be priorities for the Christian leader, shouldn't the focus be on how to equip others to reach them? Is not the role of the Christian leader to sacrifice for others, to give of oneself so that others can be all that God would have them to be, to see one's labour as being so much more than the opportunity to personally accomplish something for God? Rather than creating an environment that will best suit his/her own strengths and enable him/her to achieve his/her personal goals, is the Christian leader not called to create an environment that allows others to flourish? To die so that others can live? To deliberately make it possible for others to exercise their gifts and to be all that God would have them to be, to the end that the organization, together, glorifies God by accomplishing the mission to which He has called them corporately to do? To be delighted when others (and especially God) get the credit, the limelight, the advancement?

Leadership is not opportunity to reach one's own potential; it is the privilege of helping others reach theirs.


Jan Fletcher said...

Brother Glenn, how beautifully you expressed our calling as servants to Jesus! I gave a presentation yesterday for The Voice of the Martyrs in America at a Spokane church, and was asked if I would be going overseas on a future mission trip. I'm a new VOM voice volunteer and I said, "It all depends on what God wants me to do. Perhaps He will want me to stay here and provide resources so that others can go. It's up to Him. I don't presume to know, but will do whatever He asks."

I do know that for every person in the public eye, there are many others who contribute to that public effort and remain in the background. Your blog post reminded me of a column I wrote a couple of years ago, in a small town newspaper, about this same idea: "From Micro to Mega." Our greatest reward is that God gives us the privilege, by His grace that opens our eyes to eternal realities, to glorify God both now and forevermore.

How blessed are John the Baptist's words in John 3:26-30 NIV):

"They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan — the one you testified about — well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.'

"To this John replied, 'A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less."

Thanks for your faithfulness, Brother Glenn. Maybe I'll see you at VOM's conference in a few days.

Jan Fletcher

Glenn Penner said...

Thank you, Jan. for your kind words. Yes, I hope to see you at the VOM USA conference at the end of the week.