The Church Leader (pt. 1)
In the ever evolving world in which we live, we encounter more than we are able to process at times. Attempting to maintain a healthy balance of world affairs, the political landscape, spiritual understandings and economical systematizing is very difficult in our age, and takes dedication. Media, through most mediums, has a peculiar way of feeding the public that which it knows will further perpetuate stereotypes and galvanize the best ratings. This does not negate the fact that there are news providers, journalists, and writers who are doing a very integral job covering particular events, people and situations. Here is where the role of the leader gets a bit tricky. True leaders cannot be satisfied with surface information, but rather, must delve into the abyss of wisdom, knowledge and information that God is revealing to us through different mediums. To lead effectively in the church, one should not think that only being well versed in the bible in sufficient. Instead, the church leader must live in the constant tension of seeking knowledge and understanding from an array of other sources through the lens of God’s Holy Word.
Therefore, an authentic leader should be immersed in the matters of the world because we are called to the world! This necessitates the ability to think cross-culturally and methodically. Leadership is a discipline, and takes great practice, implementation and risky decision making. Therefore, your leadership appetite must constantly be fed. The church leader must constantly digest God’s Word along side of other books and resources that will assist in disciplining the disciple.
Church leadership involves a complex weaving of spiritual matters and practical matters. Leaders in the church have to be continuously conscious of the fact that their work is anchored in the church, which means there must always be a Christian ethic in practice. The church leader will always be representing something, whether it is people, thought or ethic. Therefore, it is critically important for leaders in church to know precisely what role they play in the lives of God’s children, the church at large and society. In his landmark text, Representations of the Intellectual, Edward Said wrote about the function and the role of a true intellectual in society. Some of what he suggests regarding intellectuals can be implied and applied in the role of a ministry leader. He wrote, “There is a danger that the figure or image of the intellectual might disappear in a mass of details, and that the intellectual might become only another professional or figure in a social trend…Yet, this role has an edge to it and cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d’etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten and swept under the rug.” Said is after precisely what should be understood concerning the role of the leader in an organization, church or society.
There needs to be an understanding that the function and role of a church-leader should not be diminished to mundane descriptions that somehow resolve the leader to that of a role player. A true leader is one who stands out and makes a tangible difference in the system in which he or she is situated. The leader in any system represents that system and the people in that system. He or she must speak and conduct themselves on the behalf of that system, while conveying a determined ethos of that system.
Are you standing out? Are you confronting orthodoxy? Are you raising the hard questions? Are you easily co-opted? Are you clearly conveying the ethos of your ministry? These are the questions the church-leader must ask him/herself constantly in order to remain integral and well versed in preparation. Are you ready for the world?