Leadership – Hard Hearts & Influence

April 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Leadership

Leadership is the very heart of the ministry of Jesus. He selected 12 men to develop as Leaders. He  invested most of his earthly ministry in shaping them as his agents to fulfill the Great Commission. Following their development is a fascinating study. Judas was a traitor. James and John were intoxicated with the concept of status or position. This pathetic syndrome is still with us today. It matters in some places “where you sit”. Peter issued a foul mouthed denial that he even knew the LORD (most if not all have been there).

There are at least two categories of leadership. One is very prevalent in the evangelical church of America. The other is rare, seldom seen in robust and perpetual operation. Do you remember Thom Rainer’s research (Simple Church)? He identified 13 churches out of thousands studied that practiced this rare form of leadership – genuine measurable transformation of God’s people. What are these two categories?  Consider the following:

  • Transactional Leadership – This type is based on transactions or exchanges between leaders and their followers. The followers express a variety of basic self-interests like physical and emotional security. Leaders shape situations in which the followers accomplish the actions desired by the leaders in exchange for rewards that meet the followers’ needs. The transactions might include money, flattery for loyalty, or votes for favors once in office. Transactional leaders tend to set up rules and standards to check for noncompliance and to maintain the status quo. These leaders rely on reactive tactics as they focus on power and politics.
  • Transformational Leadership – The transformational leader helps followers embrace a vision of a preferred future. Leaders inspire and empower followers to achieve new levels of personal and corporate performance. They encourage individuals and support innovative ventures. Followers gladly commit to a future they help create. Because transformational leaders are trusted and respected, followers tend to internalize the spirit and goals of the organization. (Leading Congregational Change, Herrington, Bonem, and Furr, p. 96).

Transactional Leadership is all about one dimensional issues; how many, how much, how often etc. The focus is on taking out the pews and putting in chairs. It is about singing off of a Power Point screen rather than out of the hymnal. There is no valid Metric by which ministry is evaluated. There is no attempt to validate the transformation of God’s people into the fullness of the Image of Christ. In fact, there is a hardy resistance to introduce such a process. Why? Because the introduction of such a Metric Process will expose the bankruptcy of this system. It is all about numbers not about mature disciples. Jesus will ask ‘what kind’ not ‘how many’!

Transformational Leadership addresses the question of “what kind?”. The purpose of Leadership as Jesus defined ministry in the Great Commission is to make disciples. He did not call us to merely make converts. Conversion is the initiation of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, not the terminal point. Transactional Leadership has settled for Activity and ignored Transformation. Making disciples is a difficult, messy and often disappointing task. It does however remain the clear challenge for Leaders in the church of Jesus Christ.

Pastors shape the others who lead with them. What they model is a key factor in the leadership Philosophy of each church. If the supreme value is numbers, that very quickly becomes the focus and goal of ministry. These guys will wear you out with activity. They will have you out 5 nights a week. When you inquire about the effectiveness of ministry they will provide a litany of activities that they engage every week. They will tell you how ‘busy’ they are. They will probably tell you they need additional staffing to cope with the tasks at hand. Pharaoh repeatedly told Moses ‘No’ to his demands that God’s people be released from the bondage of Egypt. When we get to Exodus 9:34 we read that “He and his officials hardened their hearts”. The example of Pharaoh imprinted the other officials in his cabinet. So too Pastors and those who serve with them.

What are you modeling Pastor? Does the ministry you shepherd focus on How Many or What Kind? There is a day coming, perhaps very soon, when Jesus will inquire of all Shepherds concerning this matter (Heb. 13:17). My prayer for us is that we are preparing now by embracing a Philosophy of Ministry that has Transformation as the heart of the matter. ‘Who’ you are and ‘How’ you lead shapes the entire dynamics of ministry in the church in which you serve Pastor. God’s best to you as you find the courage and resources to practice and develop Transformational Leadership.

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