The Heart of Leadership

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45

The heart of leadership is service: making God’s dream come true in the lives of those you minister to. Although the leader is out front breaking new ground, he is also a follower. Jesus called men to follow Him, and promised to make them fishers of men, that is, lead others in turn to follow Him too.

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Matthew 4:19-20 

Leaders influence, respond earlier than others to challenges, carry the weight of responsibility and discover vision and purpose. They are moved by conviction rather than settle for convenience and comfort. They dare to be different and manifest more strongly the ‘dominion drive’ that is found in all people as revealed to us in the book of Genesis.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

Leaders of excellence will submit this drive under the Lordship of Christ and use their ambition to further God’s kingdom purposes and not their own agenda. They will recognize that we are called to have dominion over creation and not one another. Through Jesus, the way back to God is open for all men to draw near as kings and priests for themselves in what is called the “individual priesthood of the believer.” Leadership is never to usurp the privilege we each have in approaching God, rather it is to encourage and equip the saints in their walk with the Lord. Jesus is the only mediator, and no leader should stand in the doorway blocking a person’s way to God. Unfortunately, history is full of leaders who have used their influence to manipulate God’s people for their own advantage rather than to stimulate them to walk in the freedom that comes from knowing God personally through Christ.

True leadership involves equipping believers to be and do all they are called to. Leaders that stimulate their followers are characterized by a desire to impart faith in God through a practical presentation of the word, and a focus on building internal conviction and trust in God alone. Their ministry appeals to a person’s position in Christ. The positive response to this kind of leadership is increased illumination of God’s true purposes and a strong unwavering identification with His cause. The followers are energized to be equipped and activated by the Holy Spirit into fruitful ministry.

In contrast, manipulative leadership is characterized by fear, is externally based on duty and practice, condemnation, and drive their people from behind. In time, most people will respond to this kind of authoritarian leadership negatively. They will rebel, recoil or robotically resign themselves to a religious treadmill that sucks the life out of the purity and simplicity of their relationship with God. These followers see their leaders as their source of inspiration, not God Himself. Sooner or later they are let them down in some way and drop away to some low level of church life and expectancy. The leader of excellence must always see and place Jesus and His power preeminent in all areas of their service.

Instead of berating the sheep to do what they can and should, the leader is called to stir up the Christ within each believer so that they live life from the inside out, thus provoking or stimulating the call.

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,…” Hebrews 10:24

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