Substituting techniques and technology for love
Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion (sometimes pile-on) about leadership. I regret that I trusted a second-hand source for information about a conference and posted on it, even though I thought that this source is reliable. My fault completely. Egg on my face.
Still, we’re faced with questions about leadership. I left this comment near the end of the thread:
There has to be something distinctive about Christian leadership, because God’s economy is completely different. I’m in the middle of working through Judges, and one of the messages is that we’re always in danger of adopting the values and practices of the surrounding culture, even when they are completely opposite to what God has called us to be and to do. So I am a little concerned that we (not the Fellowship – the church in general) are mirroring a cultural fascination with business-style leadership.
Finally, when I think of the places and times where God is moving and the church is thriving, I don’t think that the key factor is that they have more capable leaders.
I’m not trying to dismiss leadership; I’m just saying there are still unresolved issues we need to continue to explore.
Ken and Paul also have some good thoughts.
Just received this e-mail from my friend Naomi this morning, and she gave me permission to post it here:
Speaking of leadership (and thinking now of Moses) and his being a man of great humbleness, his woosing out on wanting to go to Pharaoh on his own, and his not thinking he could speak well enough etc. — his only strength really being his direct line to God — that God gave — well, I’d like to see how the leadership strategists could explain the successfulness of that mission, leaning on the virtue of Moses’ gifts, abilities, or skills. Every single step of the way it was God leading the show, giving the instructions, showing the way, etc.
I even thought of this issue as I read this book review of a book I’m very interested in now. Lauren Winner writes, “Some of the questions Houston raises about the ways Christian culture has been infected by that secularism — such as his suggestion that the tendency in today’s professionalized ministry is to substitute “techniques and technology for love” — strike uncomfortably close to home.” I know that you techniques and love aren’t exclusive of each other – but I wonder if this charge is true.
The problem is that techniques and technology and leadership have their place – but they are secondary at best, and we tend to make them primary. That’s why I like books like Leading with a Limp, because they bust the myth of the heroic leader. Leadership is important, but the best leaders lead out of God’s power showing up in their weakness.
It’s why I like my friend Bill’s observation that we’re a lot like Israel looking for a king so they can be like all the other nations, when God says we don’t need a king because we have him. The king can get in the way of God, and so can certain kinds of Christian leadership.
In the end, we need to do a whole lot more thinking about Christian leadership. I still believe leadership is important, but maybe we need a different kind of leadership.