Leading means Following

Last week, we talked about the role of leadership as a facet of discipleship.  If the core definition of leadership is about motivating others in achieving a common goal; leadership isn’t about controlling the process as much as it is encouraging others toward that shared goal.  In that sense, any of us, whether we are gifted or called to specific leadership roles, can exercise leadership in encouraging each other forward into the mission and life Jesus is calling us into and has created us for.

It’s also been said that if you’re on the journey and find yourself alone, it’s not leading, it’s taking a walk.  If we’re not invested in others; whether working side by side, or building up and encouraging someone else, then we’re missing something vital.  In the scripture we’ll be looking at this week in worship, Mark 6:6b-13, we read: “[Jesus] called the twelve and began to send them out two by twoand gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”

This is a pivotal passage in the disciples’ journey with Jesus.  They are given a mission and authority to carry it out.

Two pieces of this stand out to me in our discussion of leadership:

The purpose of Kingdom leadership is not personal glory, but to point people to God.  Leadership in the service of God; whether formal or informal, involves us, includes us, but ultimately isn’t about us.   We see this in the Gospel of John, 3:25 and following, when John the Baptist is told that the crowds of people that used to seek him out to hear about the Kingdom of God and be baptized are now flocking to Jesus.  John’s response is that this is precisely the point, his role was to prepare the way, and now that Jesus is here “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

  • This is important to keep in mind when we feel successful in our roles, when kudos and adulation come in (and note that this is one of the temptations for trying to do all the work ourselves), are we becoming the focal point?  Do we feel indispensable?

This leads to the bigger point I wanted to get to this week about leadership:

Leadership in the Kingdom isn’t about having everyone follow us, but that we follow God together.

To be an effective leader in the Kingdom of God means that we make following God the central priority.  It sounds painfully obvious – but the subtle trap is that we can come to see leadership be about us at the top, giving lip service to accountability to God or to others, doing things in God’s name, but calling all the shots ourselves.

Following God means seeking God’s way and timing over our own priorities.  It means listening in prayer as much as speaking.  It means seeking out others who are wise, who are farther along in the journey of faith, and hearing them.  It means being accountable to the community we are a part of together.

  • In what ways does God actually exercise authority in your life?
  • How do we seek out God’s instruction for us in different situations?
  • How are we realistically accountable to the Christians around us as we exercise our leadership and live out our part in Christian community?