Have we taken the issue of leadership too lightly?
It seems, sometimes, as if leadership has become the pinnacle of the Christian life or walk. Everything we do seems to be pointed to making leaders and if you are not leadership material, well, join the ranks and be led.
We have put Leadership on a pedestal. Leadership is not an exalted state that you reach after doing an apprenticeship and being a good Christian. Leadership is a stage within your walk with God. God does not mean for ALL to be leaders and leaders are not leaders ALL the time. There will be seasons – maybe long ones, when you may not occupy a leadership role – how you handle that is so important. So many leaders are unable to let go of leadership when they should – either by stepping aside to allow someone else to take over a project or ministry – or by discerning that it is time to leave or even stepping aside for the ministry to go into a new direction. This may be because we view stepping down from leadership as a demotion within the kingdom of God, or a sign of spiritual decline – instead of seeing it as God moving us onto another stage or season.
The Christian life is far more than aspiring to leadership – we should, as we saw Monday, be aspiring to walk with Christ with our whole life – and from their letting God into every part of our daily plan so that we are his servants.
The issue I want to look at this morning is whether we understand the intensity, severity and seriousness of what is biblical leadership.
We talk a lot about leadership within the church – the need for good leaders – training programs for leaders. We have a tendency to churn out leaders. But leadership is a very serious thing in scripture. It makes massive demands on those who may feel that they should take responsibility for the people of God.
If we took the Pastoral Epistles seriously then many prospective leaders and pastors may have second thoughts about wanting to lead. The criteria is massively high – (and what about James 3:1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment) and I fear that the danger has been within some quarters of the church to lower the standards in order to get more leaders to cover the ministries we create.
One example I would make is the disparagement between applying for a youth ministers post and going through the process for ordination. While the process for ordination is far from perfect it does require a vigorous tests – I had to be tested on my theology, a psychologist tested my mind – a panel of people questioned me countless of times – I had to have testimonials and references and recommendations from many people. Yet we accept youth ministers with as little as a two-hour interview and a short contact time – and yet youth ministry is one of the key areas for a church.