The topic of leadership has been written about by dozens of "experts" and taught in hundreds of seminars around the world. There doesn't seem to be much more to be said on this topic. But, as I'm learning what it means to lead a new arts and faith initiative, I've been thinking about how I would describe myself as a leader. Recently reading "Strong and Weak" by Andy Crouch has brought clarity to my thinking. While it isn't new or profound, the reminder has been valuable.
In Crouch's excellent book, he writes, "Leadership does not begin with a title or a position. It begins the moment you are concerned more about the others' flourishing than you are about your own." WOW! This seems to fly in the face of nearly all the leadership books that are so popular. The standard for a true leader is not their lists of accomplishments and awards--it is the flourishing of those under his/her care. How many leaders model this? Are there any in our political or commercial realm? Even in the church?
Clearly, by this standard, our greatest example of a leader would be Jesus Christ. His leadership was marked with delegating, serving, and empowering others. The most poignant picture of his leadership style is found in John 13 as Jesus knelt and washed the feet of his disciples. But, the essence of his leadership style was also found as he sent out his disciples to heal and to bring freedom from oppression; in the many examples of the "sending" in what we call the Great Commission; and so many other illustrations. Jesus, the God-Man, was not seeking to dominate his followers. Instead, he was committed to the empowerment of those who followed him! I've often thought about how humanly foolish it seemed to leave the spread of the Kingdom in the hands of broken people like us!
I cannot conclude these thoughts better than Andy Crouch does. He writes, "We learn that the desire to control others is an idolatry that will not deliver what we seek and will certainly not lead to their flourishing. So we turn over power to others, giving them authority to act on their own behalf, to cultivate and create in their own right rather than just implementing our vision. We discover the joy of true power, which is to make room for others to act with authority. We measure our lives increasingly by what others have done--and received credit for--thanks to our advocacy. By exposing ourselves to the possibility that they will surprise and delight us with the flourishing they create."
May this be the mark of my attempts at being a leader.