Cruciformity & Christian Leadership, Pt. 2

The Bible has much to say about leadership generally, but two specific texts contrast God’s aims for leaders of his people with corrupted forms of leadership—Mark 10:42-45 and Deut. 17:14-20.

Taking a cue from these texts, I will discuss cruciform Christian leadership by contrasting it with worldly leadership practices.  This may help us discern how perverted ambitions, hidden idolatries, and destructive practices subtly affect how leadership works in Christian communities.

I’ll begin with the following alternative descriptions:

Worldly leadership: A desire to increase in prestige, status, and influence and a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve these things, even if it means neglecting or hurting people who do not appear to be means of one’s own personal advancement.

Jesus-shaped leadership: An unrelenting commitment to the delivery of the love and grace of God into the lives of others (or, the life of another), and taking the initiative to see to it that this happens.

I’ve drawn these up from reflection on biblical texts and my own experiences in ministry.  I’ll elaborate on these two forms of leadership as our discussion progresses.

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2 responses to “Cruciformity & Christian Leadership, Pt. 2

  • S Wu

    Thank you, Tim.

    For many years I have had the privilege of working with Christian leaders in churches, Christian organizations and even Christian ministry training colleges. What is disturbing is the increasing trend of importing leadership skills and methods in the corporate world into the Christian community.

    What happens in practice is not the outright unrestrained pursuit of self-promotion or self-interest. Rather, the issue is the lack of an “unrelenting commitment to the delivery of the love and grace of God into the lives of others (or, the life of another), and taking the initiative to see to it that this happens.”

    Instead of treating people with grace and love, Christian leaders resort to policies and procedures – and all too often, statistics and numbers (which are used to measure the so-called “performance”. The rationale is that policies and procedures – and numbers – are not wrong. The Bible is not against them, they say. So, as long as they work for the “greater good” (e.g. more people to come to church, or more money to give to the poor), it is okay to use them, even though in the process love and grace are missing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the church, and I hold nothing against those who have ill-treated me. There is no unforgiveness. My concern is the health of the church, and where we are heading.

    By the way, Dr Christopher Wright has something really good to say about Deut 17 in his commentary.

    • timgombis

      I was going to note that very phenomenon, S. It’s far too pervasive. I saw it in a book on “Leading like Jesus” a few years ago, which was just a collection of business-oriented leadership strategies with Bible verses thrown in. Just because a book has some Scripture in parentheses at the ends of sentences doesn’t mean that it’s a seriously biblical book!! Too much corporate leadership has been transferred to the church . . . with disastrous results.

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