Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his master. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. 1Corinthians 4:1-4.
It’s my good fortune to be getting ready to visit Normandy. I have been reading and watching movies about D Day (The Longest Day, Band of Brothers). It’s had me thinking about leadership. Who would I want to follow under fire, onto one of those beaches? What kind of men instilled the confidence of their troops to scale those cliffs? What did it take for those troops to not hunker down in fear, but to move forward to take those beaches?
I would want to follow a leader who was 100% committed to the cause, yet had studied the battlefield, knew something about the enemy, and had a good idea of how to accomplish what needed to be done. Someone who is leading for personal glory wouldn’t last five minutes when the bullets start to fly. I wouldn’t need my commanding officer to be my best friend, but I would want to trust that he cared deeply about my welfare and wouldn’t ask me to do anything that wasn’t necessary.
It’s not so different with the church. Paul gave clear instructions to the Corinthians about the characteristics of those we should follow:
- Leaders are humble servants that remain true to their Master, Jesus.
- Solid leadership isn’t dependent upon popular opinion.
- Skilled leaders demonstrate a commitment to knowing and living and the truth.
- Good leaders don’t thrive at the expense of those who follow.
- A true leader doesn’t give up when facing opposition. Sometimes things get messy and people get hurt.
At the same time, Paul understands the pain of not being followed well. Being led is a responsibility in itself before God. Do I ask more from my leaders than I do of myself? Am I following only those instructions that I want to hear? Am I complaining and critical of my leaders instead of being intent on serving God? Whether God asks me to lead or follow (they are both important), it is to Him that I ultimately accountable.
The sacrifices made on the beaches of Normandy were awe inspiring. Our soldiers were willing to lead and follow no matter sat the expense of their lives. Am I willing to humble myself and do what God is calling me to today, regardless of the cost? I pray that God gives me the grace to follow him humbly and wholeheartedly, be it as a leader or follower in his church.