There is one kind of leader who may be called The Imposer, though The Imposer often describes and presents himself/herself as one who is not imposing. The Imposer imposes his or her will on others, and even sees leadership as imposing one’s will on others, or The Imposer seeks to impose the Bible on others. “Somewhat tyrannical and egotistical, their organization … runs around their whims and idiosyncrasies. [There can be no true succession plan; there can only be a new start.]” (So Brian Harris in The Tortoise Usually Wins: Biblical Reflections on Quiet Leadership for Reluctant Leaders, 18.)
Undoubtedly, The Imposer has charisma else no one would follow. But there’s something here that bears some comparison with Abraham Kuyper’s charisma and power, which in the words of his biographer James Bratt finds expression like this: “the charisma by which, in observers’ eyes and his own, his person became identical with the cause” (Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat, 65).
The other kind of leader — yes, there are more than two but I’m grouping into two for this exercise — is The Nurturer. The Nurturer seeks to nurture the will of God, the ways of God, and seeks to nurture the supremacy of Christ and of God and wind of the Spirit in all things. The Nurturer does not impose; The Nurturer mediates and midwives the ways of God to others. Sometimes The Imposer can look like The Nurturer but time will reveal the difference. The former is interested in self-glory the second in God’s glory.
What do you think is the major difference between The Imposer and The Nurturer? How does The Imposer deny the gospel and The Nurturer embody the gospel? [Big one.] Do you think the size of the church shapes one or the other?
Pope Francis is a quiet leader, a servant leader, and here is a newsclip from WaPo that indicates the direction of his leadership:
Answering their questions one by one, Francis told them the decision to become a priest had been difficult and that he had suffered “moments of interior darkness” when “you feel dry, without interior joy.”
But he said he went ahead because he loved Christ.
One of the most touching moments came when Teresa, a bright-eyed redhead no more than six, asked Francis flat out if he had wanted to be pope.
Francis joked that only someone who hated himself would ever want to be pope. But then he became serious: “I didn’t want to be pope.”
1. The servant leader serves Christ. That is, “they feel confident to lead only because they are led” (21). I have often on the pages of this blog argued that we should be less interested in “leadership” than in “followership” and this is precisely what Brian Harris getting at here.
2. The servant leader serves those who follow their lead. Here’s his big point: These folks lead by serving; that is, “the best way they serve the needs of others is through the leadership they offer” (21). This doesn’t mean running around doing everything everyone asks. The servant leader, and the quiet leader, has made the hard decision of knowing how they best serve … and that will usually mean leading and assessing and evaluating and not simply cleaning dishes. Yes, Christ is the example.
3. The servant leader is accountable to God, to others and to those to whom the group (being led) should offer some benefits. (He uses Israel and the nations from Gen 12.)
What are your marks of servant leadership?
This all leads Brian to what I think is a signal insight: “Christian leaders begin by asking what God calls them to provide for those he asks them to lead” (24). That is, leadership is rooted in following God. And he sees, from John Sweetman, six ways leaders help other: they provide God’s presence, they provide security, they provide significance, they provide hope, they provide growth, and they provide empowerment.
I will emphasize the other two s’s to the degree Brian Harris does (not as much); The pastor is also a Shepherd (defend, protect, feed) and a Steward (idea here is accountability to God and others).