One of the reasons I liked Transforming Power (mentioned yesterday) is because it really makes you think about what leadership is. You have to, because the images and stories of leadership are so different.
Two examples. First, Paul Borden of Growing Healthy Churches takes no prisoners in his approach to leadership:
Congregations that have been on a plateau or in decline for more than three years are like old drunks. Intervention is needed to produce change…Leadership is essential. The pastor must be a leader or have the ability to exercise leadership behavior…
Pastors and denominations that do not want to disrupt comfortable congregations must understand they are abdicating their responsibilities as Christian leaders to serve God well. Enabling and helping congregations to continually exercise sinful dysfunctional behavior means that such pastors and denominational leaders are practicing carnal co-dependent relationships that work against God’s mission for His Church.
This approach to leadership is going to have very predictable characteristics and results.
Contrast this with the image of leadership presented by James Howell:
As much as churches try to learn from corporate leadership models, I suspect that, at the end of the day, the shape, the style, the mood of the ordained pastor can (and must!) differ in fundamental ways…All clergy near this zenith of leadership incandescence will (thankfully) always seem to be square pegs in the round holes of corporate leadership techniques…
No matter how a particular congregation is organized, no matter what the optimal strategy is in this place to unleash the workers out into the vineyards, no matter the posture of hands-on involvement or in-the-background enabling the leader suspects is the wisest course at this time, the leader maintains that docent feel, continually, and in every possible setting, to direct people’s attention to the treasures of the Church, to urge them to keep moving, to do whatever they do with their minds fixed on the stories, the creeds, the liturgy, the songs, the practices of the Church that dazzle, and give us every good chance of going somewhere meaningfully integrated into the dawning of the Kingdom of God.
You couldn’t ask for two more different pictures of leadership. Which one is right? Do we go in with our hardhats and aggressively attack the dysfunction and lead toward measurable results, or do we pursue a spiritual, non-corporate type of leadership that trusts the Spirit and the Gospel to do its work? And these are only two of the models to choose from.
Hugh Ballou, the editor of this book, observed that these differences are probably a result of personality. I think he’s right. Yet each personality has the tendency to baptize that approach as the only right way.
I’m going to post a little more about leadership models and tensions tomorrow. For now, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the two approaches to leadership I’ve just described.