In the sitcom The Soul Man starring Cedric the Entertainer, Cedric's character, Reverend Sherman, is a new pastor who was a former singing artist. After his father retires as the pastor of a local congregation and he assumes the role, he is questioning his ability to be a pastor. His father tells him, "Preachers are basically rock stars for the Lord."
I know that most of us would never make such a crass statement about a pastor. Most pastors I know have entered the ministry because they want to serve God and love people. Most have put in years of hard work, sacrificed much and worked for must less than we could in earn in other jobs. However, it does seem that we elevate the role of senior pastor to a status that calls for questioning.
As I've meditated on Jesus' words "Blessed are the meek," I've realized
that being meek is about having the freedom to be oneself, without
pretension. It's about having the freedom to live out one's identity with integrity. These are the kind of people Jesus says will "inherit the land."
Most of the world operates around the principle of doing what it takes to get stuff done and usually this requires power, possessions and position. Most of the time, this requires leaders to pretend to be more than they are to get stuff done. In other words, the way that
our culture tells us that we "get things done" is a way of bondage to
trying to be something that we are not.
way that the church gets stuff done is through leaders who focus on developing power,
possessions and position. At least this is what I've seen modeled and
what I read about in all kinds of church leadership books. It seems to
me that we have created leadership patterns that have nothing to do with
living our of our identity and in integrity.
You might be reading this and thinking, "But how else can church leaders get stuff done if they don't have the power to do it, the possessions needed to purchase things and the position to lead people." If that's the case, as it has been for me from time to time, then think about how Jesus demonstrated God's kind of leadership in the incarnation: no power, no possessions, no position. It
is interesting to me how the leaders of the New Testament church led in
radically different ways than those of the Old. In the Old Testament, the people of God wanted a king to lead them like everyone else and even their greatest king, David, ended up failing at the job. He tried to lead through power, possessions and position like everyone else, but it did not work. By contrast, Paul did not hold his
power over others yet he had incredible power. He did not seek
out possessions, but he had more than he could ever desire. He had no
formal position, but we look to him as having the greatest position of
authority next to Jesus. Team leadership, not solo leadership was the
New Testament pattern. Differing to others on the team was the habit,
not telling the team what to do. Lead-as-a-team-of-equals was the approach, not one
who has a special title and position being set above everyone else.
Leadership came through meekness, as they exhibited power under, not
I'm not saying that we need to do away with senior pastors, preaching or leadership positions. Don't assume that I fall in the camp of authors who want to toss aside everything that relates to the traditional church because I'm raising this question. That's too simplistic. Honestly, I don't think we yet know what meek leadership would or could look like in today's world. We need to raise the questions. And we don't need to be afraid of talking about them in honest ways. I think it could lead to some creative answers.
What think you?