What Does Christian Leadership Look Like (Leadership Series Part 5)

In the last few posts we’ve been discussing the idea of leadership.  We’ve looked at leadership in general.  We’ve looked at the difference between effective leadership and moral leadership – at least as we’ve defined it.  We’ve determined that there are many different styles of leadership that can be both great and effective.  And we’ve looked at how context plays a role in who ends up leading.

Today I want to look at what we might call Christian leadership.  Really at the end of the day that should be our goal as believers if we want to lead.  This is not as simple as “lead like Jesus” although obviously we want to look at Jesus who was without a doubt the greatest, most effective leader of all time.  And He still is.

So what does it mean to be a Christian leader?  How do we do it?

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The Circumstances Of Effective Leadership (Part 4 Leadership Series)

Think about the following short list of people who could be considered great leaders in history.  People who were effective by my working definition of effective leadership: “An effective leader is someone who has followers and gets them, through his/her leadership, to accomplish something.  The more followers they have and/or the greater the accomplishment; the more effective the leader.”  Some of these are more moral than others but we’ll leave out the completely immoral examples.  Here’s the list:

  • Martin Luther King Jr
  • Walt Disney
  • Bill Gates
  • Winston Churchill
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Martin Luther
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Mother Teresa
  • William Wilberforce
  • Joan of Arc

Now I could list a ton more people in every context.  Religious, business, countries and causes.  This is just a few that came to mind right away that I think most people would say had a huge impact.  They had lots of followers and accomplished real change in their context.

Obviously most of us, or more accurately probably none of us, will be on any future list like this.  But I think we can learn something here about leadership from these folks.  What do they have in common?  What made them effective leaders?

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Is There One Best Leadership Style? (Part 3 In A Leadership Series)

We’ve been spending some time in previous posts looking at the idea of leadership.  Really what I’m trying to do is demystify the whole thing a bit.  I think we have been told a lot of things about leadership that aren’t necessarily true.  Last time we looked that the difference between being a moral leader and an effective one and how one really has nothing much to do with the other.

Today I want to talk about leadership style.  When I asked my friends on social media about who great leaders were I got a huge variance in answers.  I knew that I would because I have friends of all sorts of different backgrounds, ages and beliefs.  The secondary question was this; What makes this person you chose a great leader?  I got all kinds of answers.  Here are a few:

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Moral Leadership and Effective Leadership Are Not The Same (Part 2 In A Leadership Series)

I’m blessed to have a lot of different types of friends from different walks of life.  Lately I’ve been asking some of them on social media questions about their opinions of leadership.  It’s been really good to hear different perspectives on who people see as a great leader, who they think is an effective leader and what they think constitutes good measurements of effective leadership.

As I shared last time, I think we often seem to lump a lot of different things into the idea of leadership and because of that sort of overthink it.  It’s not that any of these ideas are bad.  I’m just not sure they are leadership in the purest form of the word.  Also a lot of times they don’t really add up.  We mention things that we think make a great leader but then we mention “great” leaders that frankly don’t exhibit many of those things.  This is especially true when we list great world leaders.

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What Is Leadership? (Part One In A Leadership Series)

A few weeks ago I was watching The Last Dance.  This is the ten part documentary on the Chicago Bulls and the final of their six NBA Championship season.  But really it’s more a documentary on Michael Jordan.  And man is it good.  I grew up on Magic, Bird and then Jordan and the Bulls.

It was interesting to learn more about the inner workings of the team and Jordan.  A lot of the stories I’ve heard about but it’s different to hear it from them.  Jordan was simply the greatest of all time.  The thing that separates him to me was his drive.  The guy hated losing.  Absolutely hated it.

Jordan was singularly focused on the goal.  And he brought others along with him.  Jordan was a leader.  But he wasn’t a “nice” guy.  We’ve talked a lot about not being the nice guy here at the blog over the years.  I’m not going to dive back into that today.  Just go to the front page and search “nice”.  What I want to talk about today is leadership.

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Will She Go With You?

Over the last three posts we’ve been talking about Servant Leading, what serving has to do with attraction, and the fact that in marriage the man is the head which has many responsibilities including loving (serving and leading would be a part of doing that well). You may want to read those before you dive in here.

Today I want to talk about as a single man, knowing the previous thoughts, how should that affect how you go about things in terms of dating and looking for a wife.  There are at least two parts here: How we prepare ourselves and who we seek to marry.

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Men’s Spiritual Leadership And The Bible

One of the most overused, misunderstood, and confusing things in the church is the idea of leadership.  This is especially true when it comes to men in relation to women. It’s my hope today to make that even more confusing.  Just kidding.  Maybe.

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You Can’t Serve Your Way To Attraction

In my last post I began talking about this idea of being a servant leader that we toss around in Christian circles.  I’m not going to rehash all of that here.  You might start by reading that post.  Today I want to talk about the servant part and in another post I’ll talk about the leadership side.

I want to clarify a couple of things quickly.  I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t serve people.  Not at all.  We often should.  Again, Jesus served.  He called us to serve others.  What I’m suggesting that serving and leadership are not the same and our motive for serving matters.

Jesus did not serve in order to gain followers.  He didn’t serve to earn relationships.  The reason Jesus is the greatest servant is because he didn’t have to serve at all and yet chose to.  Not only that, but He gave the ultimate service in dying for us.  Jesus served His followers.  But again He didn’t serve to get followers.

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You Are Not Her Spiritual Leader

I want to continue to try to answer a question that reader Stephen asked me a few weeks ago. Here is the question.

Everyone talks about women wanting guys who “lead”, who “aren’t pushovers,” who “aren’t nice guys,” etc. Question: what does this mean in the context of DATING. NOT MARRIAGE. Its fairly obvious what this means for married men. But when I’m asking a woman out for the first, second, or third time, the only things we’re going to disagree over, or have to decide together, are whether we’re going to Chipotle or Olive Garden. What if I really don’t give a darn? How am I supposed to “lead” while I’m casually dating a girl? I’m not an integral part of her life, I’m not her primary counselor, I’m not even likely to be *informed* about serious decisions that she has to make. 

I tackled the general nice guy question previously, but I think Stephen raises a very interesting question when it comes to leadership.

First of all, let’s clear a couple of things up.  Nowhere in the bible is the phrase spiritual leader used.  It’s kind of inferred in several places but we’ve sort of created this phrase so that we don’t have to use words like headship.  But regardless of all of that, and no matter what you call it, when you are dating someone, you are not her spiritual leader or head of anything. You are not saddled with that and you don’t have to love her as Christ loved the church (any more or less than you would any other person) and she is not called to submit to your leadership.  Ephesians 5 is not about dating.

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It Probably Isn’t Going To “Just Happen”

When it comes to dating, and I think especially “Christian dating”, one of the big mistakes too many people make is having the idea that it just happens.  In fact I think most people want it to be this way.  They want it to just happen.

This comes from several places.  First there is this idea that God has only one person for you and He will magically bring them to you.  This is how we get all of the spiritual platitudes like, “God will do it in his timing”, “when it’s right you’ll know”, “God just hasn’t brought you the one yet”, “He is preparing someone for you”, and on and on and on. What’s funny about these platitudes is that while we hate them when someone says them to us, we also hide behind them when we don’t act.

I’ve addressed this particular point about a zillion times in this blog.  But for the record, there is not THE ONE, there is no spiritual soulmate, He is not holding out on you.

But the second and maybe more powerful place this comes from is a culture that says everything should happen organically.  Whatever that means.  Basically what it seems to mean is that you shouldn’t have to actually do anything.  You are entitled to whatever you want and you shouldn’t have to actually try to go do it.

This is a super convient concept when stuff doesn’t go our way.  Or when we sin.

My girlfriend is pregnant becomes everything happens for a reason.  Yeah it does, because you had sex when you shouldn’t have.  I don’t know how to ask someone out can conveniently become, God will bring me someone.  I’m overweight (don’t have a job, don’t have direction, don’t know how to interact with people, etc.) but people should just like me for me.  The right person will just organically be attracted to me.  (But of course I won’t be extending that same courtesy to them).

Maybe in the past when the average age of marriage was about 10 years younger than it is today that sort of thing would make some sense.  I think there is some reality to college aged folks and “organically meeting”.  But for most of us this just is not a good plan to get married.

The first question needs to be, do you actually want to get married.  I believe that most of us are called to do so.  Marriage, while not the end all and not the solution to life, was instituted by God in the very beginning.  Some people will not get married.  Some are not called to it.  But for those of us who don’t think we are called to celibacy we need to attempt to move beyond it, not just sit around and hope for it.  Especially as a man.

We need to act.  And action, typically means being intentional.  Being intentional typically means having a plan.  None of this means that the plan will work.

I’ve used this example before but let’s say you need a job.  Do you sit around and just hope that it “organically” happens?  Ok I know some people do, but those people typically remain unemployed.  If you want a job, you go out and hit the pavement (or the internet or whatever).  You use the resources available to you to find a job. You might have work on some skills.  Maybe a new skill for a new job – that might require going back to school or practicing interviewing.  You learn, practice, and attempt, over and over again.

If a kid wants to get better at a sport for example, do they sit around and hope that they just learn to shoot a basketball?  No you learn how to shoot it.  You listen to your coach. You go out in the driveway and shoot the ball over and over.  Does this mean you’ll be Jordan?  No.  But will you be better than the average person who hasn’t shot a basketball?  Yes.

Look, I’m not saying it’s simple.  What I am saying is that having a plan and learning how to be better is good.  Humbling maybe, but good.  It’s called growth.  It requires effort.  And usually it requires failure because you don’t know when or if it will work.

The question should be, how do I put myself in the best position to succeed.  I have to get in the game.  I need to have a plan of attack.  I might need to practice.  I might need to study or acquire new skills.

You need a plan of how to meet people, how to approach people and what to do on a date.  And that’s just for starters.

Gentlemen let me assure you of this.  Girls like a guy who has a plan.  They can say they don’t but they do.  That doesn’t change when you get married by the way.  If they want to think “it just happened” that’s fine, but we all know it didn’t.

Do you want to get married?  What are you doing today that makes tomorrow any more likely that you will get married? If you aren’t dating anyone, what is your plan to change that?  If you are dating someone, what is your plan to advance that relationship?  What are your intentions?  What are doing to make your intentions reality?  What are you getting better at?