Possibly the saddest occurrence coinciding with the rise of the study of leadership in the twentieth century was the drift of God’s people away from the Bible as the standard of truth. The church, like the world, bought into the “whatever works” paradigm. Thus, the widespread, secular notions about leadership became pervasive and difficult for God’s people to withstand. This eventually led to the people of God accepting the wholesale assumptions of worldly leadership, and the church began to take its leadership cues from a secular culture.
The problem still exists today. The business sector in particular is celebrated as the ultimate source of truth about leadership—as opposed to God’s Word.
The trouble is, we are borrowing concepts from an upside-down world. Since what was practiced in business seemed to work (“work” equaling more profits, more followers and larger organizations), the church coopted leadership principles from corporate America. The evangelical church in particular began to believe that businesspeople did it better. Those in the church who possessed great business acumen (but who possibly had very little understanding of what God intended for the church) populated church boards. Churches became corporations. Pastors became CEOs. Christian authors borrowed rather worldly concepts, slapped a Scripture verse or two on them, and called it “Christian leadership”—when in actuality they were promoting fleshly principles cloaked in spiritual language. This left the church with little distinction in our culture, an anemic entity copying the world and struggling at best to survive.
Yet, in this context God has provided a vast mission field of opportunity. Biblical leadership is needed now more than ever! As believers, we have a unique and wonderful calling to address the leadership crisis—and we have solid ground on which to stand. If we will recommit ourselves to the standard of God’s Word as opposed to taking our beliefs from the culture, we may catch a glimpse of the brilliant possibilities for biblical leadership and the stark, colorful difference this kind of leadership will make in the middle of a world full of shades of gray.
Distinctives of Biblical Leadership
Biblical leadership involves at least five distinctives that set it in sharp contrast to the popular leadership practices, theories and definitions of our world. These will be addressed individually in future posts.
Character: the person of the leader
Calling: the purpose of the leader
Competence: the practice of the leader
Community: the people of the leader
Christ: the power of the leader
A biblical leader then is a person of character and competence who influences a community of people to achieve a God-honoring calling by means of the power of Christ.