Excerpt of Biblical Leadership Paper

2007/11/29 at 4:28 上午 發表留言

            As to leadership principles, there are a number of non-negotiable values that I firmly believe to be indispensable biblically: the headship of Christ, servanthood attitude, modeling, team leadership, relationship-oriented fellowship, and anointed service and administration. It is foundational that all Christian leadership endeavors should submit to the will of Christ. Whether this leadership takes place in churches, Christian organizations, secular vocations, or personal lives, Christ is and should be the Lord of all believers (Acts 2:36; Eph 1:15-23). There is no point in leading oneself and others if, first and foremost, the direction is not Christ-ward. From the spiritual perspective, there is zero eternal significance when the leadership influence is not directed under the headship of Christ for the purposes of God’s Kingdom (1 Cor 3:5-15). Jesus said that no matter how much believers can seem to accomplish by their own resources and strength, they could do nothing as far as God is concerned when they are not abiding in His Word, presence, and will (John 15:4-6). On the other hand, when we seek God’s glory and Perfect Will only by abiding in Jesus, we will bear much fruit and never burn out (John 5:1-8). Churches and Christian organizations can come up with programs after programs, but if they do not first go after God’s own heart and will, they will never be successful leaders in the eyes of God. Before the commandment to go and make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28) is the commandment to come and abide in Jesus (John 15).

 

            Secondly, I believe a true Christlike leader should exemplify a servanthood attitude. The very own words of Jesus is unequivocally straightforward:

 

            “But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:42-44; emphasis mine).[1]

 

            In stark contrast to one of the most popular secular philosophies of exercising authority, Jesus clarifies that a true spiritual leader is someone with a servant-like attitude. The value of the Kingdom of Heaven is the total opposite than that of the world in terms of greatness. Hence, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind, that [we] may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2).

 

            Modeling has always been something that is lacking in Christendom as I observed. Common expressions such as “Your deeds speak louder than your words,” “practice what you preach,” and “walk the talk” all pointedly convey the fact that people value modeling as one of the top qualities of being a genuine leader. In fact, Kouzes and Posner have found through their long-term leadership quality surveys of thousands, spanning more than two decades, that “honesty” (or credibility) has been “selected more often than any other leadership characteristic; overall, it emerges as the single most important ingredient in the leader-constituent relationship.”[2] Certainly our Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament epistles have long ago taught us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the same principle:

 

“For I (Jesus) have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).

 

“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Pet 5:2-4; emphasis mine).

 

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Pet 2:21).

 

            Besides submission to the rulership of Christ, servant mindset, and living out biblical teachings, another essential aspect of quality leadership is team ministry. A biblical leader never walks and works as a spiritual-giant lone ranger. Independent leadership simply will not work out theologically and practically. In the Old Testament, on the advice of Jethro (Moses’ Father-in-law), Moses selected honest and capable men to be rulers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, to assist in his administrative role (Exo 18: 13-24). Even as spiritual as Moses was, he needed a team of leaders to work together with him. Under the Old Testament theocratic system of Israel, God instituted team ministry with different types of leaders such as elders, priests, rulers, judges, prophets, kings, and counselors, to jointly discern and carry out God’s will (Exo 18; Deu 18; Jud 1; Ruth 4; 1 Sam 10; 2 Sam 15). In the New Testament, although the Church is still under the supreme theocratic rule of Christ (Eph 5:23), God chooses to carry out this divine governance through team leaders such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, and faithful men and women who do not have a fulltime call into the ministry (Eph 4:11; Acts 14:23; 1 Tim 3; 2 Tim 2:2; Tit 1). Jesus Himself had a team of twelve apostles who were very close to Him, and other disciples such as the seventy disciples that were also sent out during His earthly ministry (Luke 10:1). In the early church, prominent leaders such as Peter, John, Paul, and Barnabas, all traveled in teams most of the time (Acts 3, 13, 15). It should be obvious to see that team leadership ministry is a must for spiritual leaders. Paul depicted this principle with the body illustration:

 

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom 12:4-8).

 

“For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Cor 12:14-27).

 

            The next vital attribute of a spiritual leader is being relationship-oriented. I believe leadership is all about people. Programs, tasks, and various activities are merely means to achieve the purpose of relating and fellowshipping with people. The Church and Christian organizations do not exist in order to make profits like secular organizations. Rather, they exist to for the purposes of fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism. “Ekklesia,” the original Greek word for “church” in the New Testament, refers to a group of Christians gathering together in the Christian sense most commonly, and not a physical building[3] (Acts 5:11). Jesus led, trained, and died for people (John 3:16). Human souls are what matter most to God, not programs. Sometimes leaders can be so caught up with administrative duties and tasks that they lose the real focus and reason behind all the jobs—people. Business researches also show that social skills and the ability to get along with people is what brings success in business and in life.[4] However, one needs to be careful to know that being relationship-oriented does not mean being manipulative or controlling. On the contrary, it means to love and care for people sincerely and fervently, and to make this the ultimate goal of every activity. Relationship and responsibilities are both important, but the former must take precedence over the latter, for that is how God relates to us. We can only be faithful stewards of God in our calls when we first have a good relationship with Him. God always emphasizes workers above works (1 Cor 13:1-8). God must first cleanse His vessels before He can commission them for His works. In John 15, Jesus says that the branches must be on the Vine first (relationship) before they can bear fruit of the Vine (works).

 

            The last fundamental leadership principle is anointed service and administration. The Bible tells us plainly that human strengths alone can never advance the Kingdom of God on this earth (John 15:4; 1 Cor 15:10). The works of God must be done with the anointing and power of God (Luke 4:18-19; Acts 1:8). In the Old Testament, God anointed leaders with different functions so they could accomplish His will. People such as Aaron and his sons, Moses, Joshua, Saul, David, and Bezaleel all had been anointed to the service of God (Exo 30:30, 31:2-3; Lev 8:12; Num 11:17; Deu 34:9; 1 Sam 10:1, 16:13). In the New Testament, Jesus Himself was anointed, as well as the disciples, for the ministries of God (Acts 1:8, 10:38). I have clarified that personal character, and all aspects of relationship with God and people take priority over talents and gifts, but the ability to effectively carry out God’s will still needs to be there for a great leader to be complete. If God truly calls one to a particular ministry (and every single believer has a ministry), He will grant the necessary giftings and anointing to perform those tasks.[5] Christians need to seek and cultivate the gifts relevant to their predestined ministry in order to successfully actualize their God-given life missions. Although only some believers are called and gifted to lead and administrate in a more specialized manner (Rom 12:8; 1 Cor 12:28), however, every single member of the Body of Christ can and should practice leading in his o her area of expertise and day-to-day affairs.

 

All these biblical leadership principles can be summed up in this: to love God and love people. Jesus says that there are no other commandments greater than these two (Mark 12:29-31). When we love God and people, we will only want God’s will to be done and never our own desires. When we love, we will readily labor like a servant in great humility in order to please God and not lord it over those who are entrusted to us. When we love like Jesus, we will be like Jesus and model the way for our followers to holy aspiration. When loving others is our exclusive motive, we will include others to participate together in team leadership and freely admit that we cannot do it all alone by ourselves. When love is central in our hearts, we will discover that love is all about relationships, and relationships are all about love. When love overflows to divine compassion, yearning for the gifts and power of God will lead to doing the works of Jesus and greater works (John 14:12).

 

Next we come to the issue of leadership methodologies. It seems that as long as the means and programs of leading are carried out in alignment with the aforementioned principles, the Bible does not identify a definite number of ways of leading. The will and wisdom of the Lord for each particular situation should always be sought in terms of specific methods. Jesus healed people through a variety of ways: commanding healings by the spoken word, laying on of hands, spitting and mixing with clays, commanding specific actions to be done, through the anointing upon His body, etc. (see the Four Gospels). He received particular guidance from the Father tailored for each case (John 5:19). Hence, having the right channels of leading is also as important as having the right principles. It is also worthwhile to note that the styles and expressions of ministering should fit the context of those who are being ministered to. Jesus spoke and illustrated parables in ways that His audiences could easily relate to. He spoke the common language of the people, which is Aramaic (John 19:20, 20:16; Acts 21:14), and ministered through the Jewish culture of His days, provided that those customs do not violate the moral values of the Scriptures. It takes great wisdom and humility for us to be flexible and not get stuck in our own traditions and ways of doing things, especially when our followers are of a different age generation or of a different ethnic-cultural group than our own.


[1] All Scripture quotations are from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION of the Bible. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers.

[2] James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002), pp. 23-28.

[3] The New American Standard New Testament Greek Lexicon, based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others (public domain), http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Greek/grk.cgi?number=1577&version=nas.

[4] James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002), pp. 20-21.

[5] It is more correct theologically to say that God has already granted all the necessary giftings within our spirits in seed form, we just need to discover and develop them (Matt 17:20; Eph 1:3-6, 2:10).

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單純的可樂戒指 Edited Excerpt of My Journal (Nov 2007)

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