In my first year of pastoring I went to a conference where the speaker mentioned that pastors need to take a stronger leadership role.
“Moses received the commands from God, and then led the people where God told him to go,” he said to justify a very strong leadership style. “So you need to listen to God, and then go where he tells you to go. The people will complain…just look at how they complained with Moses, but you have to do what God wants you to do.”
I remember hearing those words and receiving them like I had found a long-lost Picasso. This was the answer! It was my vision, and basically only my vision that really mattered. And I began to find examples in Scripture that supported my premise for my-vision-leadership.
Because of my focus (and ignorance) I had taken this quote, which I believed to be Scriptural, and I applied it as a universal truth as to how God operates and how leadership should be done. I’ve been changing the last few years or so, but I recently read an interesting quote relating to biblical leadership:
“Scripture offers a myriad of leadership images. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, Solomon, Peter, and Paul all functioned out of different roles in radically different situation as patriarchs, judges, elders, kings, priests, apostles, and presbyters. Priestly classes played significantly different roles from those of prophets or poets. Apostles functioned differently from pastors or teachers. At various points in Israel’s or the church’s history, differing roles has ascendancy and importance. Throughout Scripture, leadership roles were determined situationally.” -The Sky Is Falling, p. 149
What I’m understanding more and more is that it’s not about me, but about we. God is constantly at work doing “a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) in the body of the church. Does that mean that pastoral leadership shouldn’t exist? Not at all. But it means that I need to examine my premise against how God operates across all of Scripture, instead of focusing on something that gets me what I want.
And so that danger becomes that many pastors, based upon wrong premises, destroy churches to achieve the vision that they want, all the while thinking that they’re doing God’s will. I’ve seen it happen many times. I don’t think God is too concerned with what I would like to see, but about what we (the church) actually need.
I admit that sometimes I struggle in knowing the difference.
[image by redjar]