When leaders fail 3 - avoiding the Ultimate Failure
What is the most important role of a leader?
Some might say it is to be an example. Others that it is to build trust and enable teams to advance to a shared goal. Others that it is to bring people to make choices - after all “Leadership is influence.” (John Maxwell).
To lead a healthy church - or indeed any business or organisation - that will grow and prosper in future, the key role is none of these, good and important though they are.
The key role of leaders is to reproduce themselves.
Any human organisation needs to develop and adapt to changes in the environment (or, even better, anticipate key changes). In the church, a supernatural body, it is even more important that we reproduce ourselves because we impart truth in the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor 2:6-16 for example).
Moses was a great leader and example. He took Joshua with him into God’s presence and taught him by example and by words how to hear God, how to fear God and therefore how to lead the people of God without fearing them!
Joshua led the people well into the Promised Land. But whom did he invest in? Who were his disciples? One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Judges 2:10. When Joshua died, and his generation died, there arose another generation “that did not know the Lord!”
The principle of life reproducing life is throughout nature and throughout scripture. How else could we fulfill the mandate to fill the earth and govern it (Gen 1:28)?
Jesus had three years of ministry to save the world, so He prioritised the most important things. His strategy was to start with prayer and then invest in a few disciples. And He gave special time to the Twelve and even closer time with Peter, James and John.
A mad strategy? But as the New Testament itself shows, the world was turned upside down as these few disciples invested in those around them willing to be changed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God ministered through the community, the people of God.
So why do we not follow His example and strategy? Mac Lake - a Christian leader and management training consultant - suggests it is often fear, guilt or pride. [There is a very helpful YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo1F8dwu6zo]
How can we follow His example? By asking the Holy Spirit to help us become an example and to show us whom to invest in. We need to talk about discipleship and teach it, so people know what they can expect and what they ask from us.
But more important than that is to ask ourselves, prayerfully, two key questions:
- who is discipling me, investing in me and being an example to me?
- who am I intentionally and prayerfully investing in, so that they can carry on where I leave off and take the church further than I can?
Following Jesus’ example is the only way to avoid failure in our key role!