Last time we started looking at the idea of responsibility. We looked at the idea of individual responsibility and how we need to start seeing that it is individuals who are responsible and not the ever convenient “they”.
Today I want to take a look at why taking individual responsibly is healthy and not only that it is the only way to become a leader.
First of all, it’s important to hit again the fact that in the end, according to Christian theology we are individually responsible before God. Yes God will judge the nations but there will be people in each of those “nations” that get into the Kingdom and those that don’t. You aren’t going to stand before God and get away with “But. . . . ‘they’ did it”. Heck you won’t even be able to say, “I’m not responsible for that – you are”.
As we continue to think about what leadership as a Christian looks like in our culture today I want to talk about an idea that I think we too often seem to forget about. That is the idea of responsibility.
We live in a culture that doesn’t like to take responsibility. This is true both outside and inside the church. We like to talk a lot about other things. We talk about rights, as in my rights. We like to talk about blame, as in blaming others for my situation. Actually what we typically do is talk about my rights and others’ responsibilities.
But there are some key truths that we need to get ahold of if we are going to lead and make an impact.
Today I want to talk about an idea that was tossed out briefly in our American political circles. That is the idea of unity. Obviously that was a shorted live political idea and this blog is not a political one. But what it made me think about is the current disunity in the body of Christ. This is important as we continue to look at what it means to lead as a Christian in the current culture.
You don’t have to look far to see this disunity. I want to think about where this comes from and more, what would unity look like – or at least the beginning of unity. Also I’m not talking today about the thousands of denominations. I have strong opinions on that but for today let’s phrase it this way; Assuming our denominational divisions how can we have a more unified front in our western culture. Even then some aren’t going to like my answers but that’s nothing new for me. Ha!
Let’s start with a couple of the main causes of our disunity.
I’ve been writing a lot about what Christian leadership might look like in our current context. When I say current context I mean mainly within the American culture and Church. Of course part of the problem is that in America there is no “the Church” per se, but that is something to be addressed at a later time.
One of the things that happens all the time in the current cultural conversation over Christianity is that we tend to set things that appear opposed against each other. Or another approach is to take two Christian ideas and say that we need to balance them.
Today I want to continue a series about what it looks like to lead as a Christian in today’s culture. We first looked at the importance of starting with looking at our own heart and what we are really all about. Then we looked at the importance of defining and living out of the narrative of God’s story vs. narratives dictated by current culture. Next we took an inward turn to look at taking care of our own business first.
Today I want to look at leading with Jesus and His truth.
Now that sounds sort of obvious. But I honestly don’t see a lot of it right now. What I see is a lot of Christians using Jesus to back up their side. I also see a lot of Christians saying true things about Jesus, but only the parts that they want to virtue signal with. I also think there are a lot of Christians who are sort of fixated on a particular part of Jesus and are just trying to follow that one part.
Finally I think there are people who are trying to show that Jesus is relevant to all that is going on right now in an attempt to win particular people over, or perhaps keep particular people from leaving Christianity.
But frankly this is creating confusion and it’s all hijacking Jesus. Now understand I’m not accusing everyone, or anyone in particular, of meaning to do that (although there are certainly people that are). It also risks splitting the body of Christ in places it just doesn’t have to be split.
What often ends up happening is that Jesus ends up being the support for a truth rather than the truth itself.
In this series we’ve been talking about what it looks like to lead in today’s culture. We first said we need to check our own hearts. Then we looked at the need to live out of and lead people within the correct narrative.
Today before we go further out so to speak, I want to talk about going further in.
What I mean is that along with the first battle, the one in our heart, we need to make sure that we fight for those right around us. We need to make sure we take care of the home front so to speak.
The reality is that you are your own first responder. This is true in general of course. For example if there is a medical emergency you are going to respond before the ambulance gets there. If someone breaks into your home you will need to respond long before the police arrive. Do you have a plan? This is true for every area of life.
In a previous post I began to offer a conversation about what actual Christian leadership might look like right now in our current American Culture. This is an ongoing conversation I’m having with some people and I’m sort of sharing out if you will. I want to be clear that I’m not pretending to have all of the right answers. But I think that we need to think about this because what I see is a large lack of leadership out there.
In part one I said the first thing we need to understand is that the most important battle is within. It all starts there. It’s not out there somewhere in some fight against the ever easy to blame “they”. It’s the battle in our own hearts to follow Jesus and actually be about His Kingdom first.
Today I want to think about a second important thing. That is this: What narrative are you living in and out of?
A few months ago I wrote a series of posts about leadership. I’m not going to link them here but if you type leadership in the search function they’ll come up. I mentioned that it is one of the most misunderstood and overcomplicated ideas that people talk about.
Lately I’ve had some people reach out to me asking how we as Christians can lead right now in our culture and who they might look to in Christian leadership. You might be thinking, “why are they asking you?” Haha! Fair question. But in actuality I’ve been thinking a lot about this question.
The reason I’ve been thinking about it is twofold. First, I think in terms of Western Christianity we are at a major turning point. It’s not THE turning point for all of Christianity in history or anything. But it’s for sure an important moment. Secondly is that as I watch across the landscape I see very little actual leadership. What I see is a lot posturing, reacting, and fear based “leadership”. I see a lot of people wanting to be liked, and either trying to hold onto something that is already gone or just changing “christianity” to fit secular leadership. Both are really bad. I mean just awful.
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?
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
Pope John Paul II
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?