Day: November 11, 2010

successful vs effective leadership

I’m continuing to ponder Christian leadership. And a couple of things I’ve been reading lately are causing me to rethink my earlier post that strongly implied that all genuine Christian leadership should head in the pastor-teacher direction.

I’m prepared to admit that this may be broadly true of Christian leadership without being an absolute necessity for each and every individual Christian leader.

In a team context, for example, different people working together could conceivably have particular strengths in one direction or another — although, I’d personally be pretty hesitant to grant the label Christian to a ‘kingly’ type leader whose head and heart was so deep into systems that he or she had no time for people.

I’m also willing to concede that whereas the New Testament paints us a picture of Jesus as the perfect prophetic and priestly king, we shouldn’t expect the same perfection and completeness of every Christian leader.

There’s an important theological priority to observe here. Before he gives us the pattern for Christian leadership, Jesus lays the — unique and irreplaceable — foundation for it.

And yet, and yet… If we’re building on him as the foundation, then whatever we construct will presumably have the same dimensions as his foundational action does (although not the same function). That’s why Mark 10.45 is joined to Mark 10.42-44 by a ‘for’:

Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

Maybe we need something like the distinction between ‘effective’ and ‘successful’ leadership employed in this paper on ‘The ABCs of Effective Pastoral Leadership’.

Successful leadership focusses on church growth — and often produces it — usually by leaning heavily on the ‘strategic’ direction provided by kingly leaders. But it may veer a long way from biblical priorities. Effective leadership prizes church health above church growth, striving to major on what’s biblically central in pastoral ministry — and often sacrificing ‘success’ as a result.