Matthew 8:5–13; Matthew 8:18–23; 1 Corinthians 12:12–28 (read online ⧉)
Amazingly…no, really…amazingly…people aren’t perfect.
Leaders are people. Therefore, leaders aren’t perfect.
Yet, when we look at our leaders, whether they are political, corporate, or church leaders, we often expect perfection. Political leaders are the most afflicted with this. It often takes only one mistake (or even just a difference in perspective) and a political leader’s career is over. Corporations are somewhat more resilient in that regard, yet with the increasing weight of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, even corporations are behaving in such a way.
While, mercifully, a lot more grace is shown in church circles, a leader’s failures can tank everything. This is not to say that criminal or unChristian behavior should be allowed, just that the Scriptures do have a way to deal with that.
The ultimate danger, though, becomes both fear of failure and fear to try something new. This is often lived out with the infamous phrase, “we’ve never done it that way before.”
There are several kinds of leaders out there. There are two big ones in the church. One of the big leader types is the manager/maintainer. This is the person that seeks to maintain the status quo. Often portrayed negatively, they are often the ones that keep people from going off the rails.
There are the visionary leaders. These are the people that break things, all for the right reasons (hopefully), but breaking hurts, because often it is things we’ve (unknowingly) setup as idols that get broken.
There are 3 other character traits, though, that deeply affect the culture of the church, leaders, and even of our lives. First is the follower. Most of us follow at least somewhat, and followers are for tomorrow. For now, let’s talk about rebels and mavericks. This was great insight provided by Larry Walkemeyer.
Often the church views the mavericks and the rebels as the same. On the surface, that may well be true. It certainly would seem to fit with the things they often break.
However, the rebel (such as the family leaders from yesterday’s readings) is in it to achieve something for themselves, almost always at a cost to others, and importantly will neither report nor submit to authority. For the church, whose Savior submitted unto death, a lack of submission is often a sign of spiritual immaturity.
The maverick, on the other hand, is there to achieve something, and it might even be gratifying. However, if the cost is others, then they are open to correction. Mavericks also, despite their independent and solo tendencies, will submit to authority. The church needs a lot more mavericks. However, mavericks, oddly enough, need to put themselves within a framework so that there are limits and responsibilities. However, as their spiritual maturity deepens, the limits are removed, and they can shake the world.
Lastly, though, is the part where there are two problems. Those in authority often like neither rebels (which is understandable) or mavericks. Thus they limit the catalyst for change. In addition, leaders also must be able to admit that they were wrong regularly and openly, and church culture doesn’t like that much, let alone the leaders. Thus the mavericks are turned into rebels by those who dislike challenge and/or change.
Church and Christian leadership starts with submission to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father (not necessarily in that order). Without that submission, one of the biggest points is missed.
Oh, God, you have called us to be humble, and we often fail at that. You call us to yield our will to yours, and we often fail at that. You love us despite our failings, and for that, we give you praise. As we walk through this life with our fellow Christians, help us to submit to you and to one another in love. Amen.
1) Have you ever seen a “rebel” leader? What was the context? What was the result?
2) Have you ever seen a “maverick” leader? What was the context? What was the result?
3) Why is perfection the enemy of leadership? How does that apply to our lives?