Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
– Mark 10:42-45
Reading through Jim Collins‘ book on leadership, “Good To Great”, I couldn’t help but see the connecting points to the thing I am most passionate about, that is leadership in the Church. I find that I can be quite critical about Church leadership and it’s not because I don’t care, it’s because it’s what I care most about. I long for her (the Church) greatness and anything short of that just feels like compromise.
By greatness, I don’t mean in a hyper-driven performance kind of way, I mean it in the sense of not settling for anything less than our full capacity spiritually, missionally, and in all the ways it means to be the peculiar people of God on earth. “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.” (p.1)
Great leaders don’t think too highly of themselves
- “Good to great leaders do not talk about themselves. . . . They are described with words such as “quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated and did not believe his own clippings.” (p. 27)
- “The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.” (p. 28)
In a world of consumerism and the pursuit of entertaining pleasures, are we okay with pastors/ministers/leaders who are not the most charismatic, but actually get the best results because they shepherd with an ear to ‘The Shepherd’ as opposed to a focus on themselves? Do we believe the meek will inherit the earth, or are we hoping Jesus didn’t really mean that part? Collins actually believes that having the CEO kind of charisma is an inhibtor to greatness, not the very thing that propels you there. “You can overcome the liabilities of having charisma, but it does require conscious attention.” (p. 73)
I have long chewed on these words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realised by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of the brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself. (Life Together p. 27-28.)
Leading the Church cannot be about us. If it is, then we are train-wreck waiting to happen. Leading has got to be about serving, listening, following and denying ourselves. It is not our ministry, it is his. What we put into it is that we care so deeply about his bride that we desire the very best. We are most passionate and work towards her greatness.
“Get involved in something that you care so much about that you want to make it the greatest it can possibly be, not because of what you will get, but just because it can be done.” (p. 209)