Friday, December 20, 2013


Understanding Leadership

Even when he is right - he gets there the wrong way. That is certainly how I feel about Al Mohler's piece on leadership. Let's start with the right part:
The bottom line is this – we are merely stewards, not lords, of all that is put into our trust. The sovereignty of God puts us in our place, and that place is in God’s service.

The Steward: The Real Meaning of Servant Leadership

The biblical concept of a steward is amazingly simple and easy to understand. The steward is one who manages and leads what is not his own, and he leads knowing that he will give an account to the Lord as the owner and ruler of all.
Leadership is about stewardship, not lordship. I could not agree more. What you re leading, from a company to a small group, you do not lead it for your own self-aggrandizement, but you lead as a servant.

Now for the wrong part:
Christian leaders are called to convictional leadership, and that means leadership that is defined by beliefs that are transformed into corporate action. The central role of belief is what must define any truly Christian understanding of leadership. This means that leadership is always a theological enterprise, in the sense that our most important beliefs and convictions are about God.


It means that God rules over all space and time and history. It means that God created the world for his glory and directs the cosmos to his purpose. It means that no one can truly thwart his plans or frustrate his determination. It means that we are secure in the knowledge that God’s sovereign purpose to redeem a people through the atonement accomplished by his Son will be fully realized. And it also means that human leaders, no matter their title, rank, or job description, are not really in charge.
Sound reasoning and he is certainly right about God's sovereignty, but to cast the issue of leadership as a theological one, where our accountability is to God is to for a recipe for trouble. Leadership as a steward is a character matter, not necessarily a theological one. The reason is simple. I am certainly accountable to God in matters of personal ethics, etc., but when it comes to leading an organization I am accountable to the Board and those that the organization serves before I am accountable to God.

Example: I think, theologically, we are called to excellence. To do as thorough and complete a job as possible. So, let's say I run a furniture manufacturer. The best furniture is made of solid hard wood. If I follow the theological mandate for excellence, then I would build furniture out of hardwood. Problem - hardwood costs a fortune. I would sell like 3 pieces of furniture to the very wealthy if that is what I did. The Board is going to want tot make more money than that, so good stewardship, based on accountability to the Board, not the Bible, says I am going to build from lesser materials, provided I do not endanger or overcharge the customer.

Paul commanded slaves to obey their masters, even if their masters were not believers. By setting up God as the theological point of accountability, Mohler short circuits that little bit of apostolic advice.

It matters how you get there.


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