Sunday, March 16, 2008

Leadership 3

Another key point is most of the modern books on Christian leadership is “assemble the right team.” One of these well-known books, by a well-known author suggests that potential team members should have “character, competency, and chemistry.”

The thought is that the person should know Christ and walk in honesty and integrity (character), a track record of accomplishment (competency), and “fit in” with the rest of the team (chemistry). While it’s obvious that it would be foolish to do ministry with someone who doesn’t know Christ, is dishonest, is unable to accomplish a task, and annoys everyone else, I wonder how God’s selection method fits these criteria.

Moses was a murderer that succeeded in the great career move of losing his place in a palace to live in a tent and chase sheep around in a desert. I don’t recall Jesus giving the 12 any special screening. He took a pretty variable lot that included some pretty undesirable qualities. And all of them ran away and hid when things got really tough. “Not many wise” of this world are chosen. (I Cor. 1:26)

Why is it dangerous to find someone with character, competency, and chemistry? Because character is impossible to accurately read (man looks at the outward appearance but looks on the heart. I Sam. 17:7). Competency leads to pride (God has chosen the base and despised people so that He would get the glory rather than the person. I Cor. 1:26-29) Chemistry leads to comfort and complacency or a clique that the church people cannot penetrate. (When they were well fed and comfortable, they forgot God. Hos. 13:6)

What do I propose instead? I propose that the church should not seek leaders. A focus on “assembling the right team” is a focus on the wrong thing. The “right team” can accomplish great things, but it cannot, ever, under any circumstances accomplish the right things.

We don’t need to identify great candidates. We need to be broken and lost fellow-laborers with other broken and the lost people until they become fellow-laborers indeed. This is not just a cliché. This is not an excuse to never have paid staff. (although I think most churches rely too heavily on paid staff) This is a fundamental shift in values and focus. It does not matter if our team fits any criteria on any list, has had success in any way, or enjoy the same things in each other’s company. What matters is that we and they be humble in admitting that we are struggling sinners that cannot live for God the way we wish, but despite that, we focus our energies on pleasing Him and serving others in His name, despite our ineptitude which ensures we will routinely fail.

An old song by a very creative Christian artist (Steve Taylor) was called “Jesus is for losers.” (I edited out a few verses here for space)

If I was driven
Driven ahead by some noble ideal
Who took the wheel?

If I was given
Given a glimpse of some glorious road
When was it sold?

So caught up in the chase
I keep forgetting my place

Just as I am
I am stiff-necked and proud
Jesus is for losers
Why do I still play to the crowd?

Just as I am
Pass the compass, please
Jesus is for losers
I'm off about a hundred degrees

If I was groping
Groping around for some ladder to fame
I am ashamed

If I was hoping
Hoping respect would make a sturdy footstool
I am a fool

Bone-weary every climb
Blindsided every time

Just as I am
I am needy and dry
Jesus is for losers
The self-made need not apply

Just as I am
In a desert crawl
Lord, I'm so thirsty
Take me to the waterfall

Just as you are
Just a wretch like me
Jesus is for losers
Grace from the blood of a tree

Just as we are
At a total loss
Jesus is for losers
Broken at the foot of the cross

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