Monday, October 18, 2010

Leadership Is An Attitude

Yesterday, we had an interesting discussion about leadership in the Church. Together we tackled the issue of leadership, and the apparent lack of leaders we see in many places, not just internally. The sermon during the morning was on 1 Tim 3:1-16, an excellent passage about spiritual leadership. The discussion was lively, with a general feeling that we need more rather than a lack of leaders.

A) What the Sermon Touched On
The pastor addressed 3 main groups of people, those who are currently leaders, those who are potential leaders, and those who are being led.

For existing leaders, the exhortation is to take one's responsibility seriously, and to treat it as a serious matter rather than a hobby. This is such an important reminder. I remember times when people treats 'volunteer' positions with less urgency than 'paid' work. That is a total misconception about spiritual leadership. Monetary compensation should not even figure in such areas. If we are to apply Paul's instructions in this case, about not 'lovers of money,' such people should be removed from their leadership.

For potential leaders, the pastor urged a serious consideration of willingness to step up when called. As far as we are concerned, all of us are potential leaders, albeit in different ways. For a start, we are leaders at home. We hold leadership areas even in project management at work. We maintain a leadership stance when serving the community by giving feedback, directions and recommendations to the public at large. For Paul, the role of leadership (as overseer) is a noble task. This simply means it is a good and worthy cause.

For the rest of us, do not be too quick to disqualify ourselves from leadership. A major role we can play is to pray for our leaders regularly. Hold our leaders accountable by being willing to question policies that are not in line with biblical principles. Do not simply be dumb sheep misled by false teachers. Be discerning.

B) Leadership as an Attitude
I propose that we learn to see leadership not as a position or some spiritual ribbon to be won and worn upon our lapels. Leadership is most importantly an attitude. Ask anybody if they fit the bill according to 1 Tim 3? Chances are, modesty takes over. Heads dip. Eyes look elsewhere. People start to be embarrassed even to raise their hands. No one wants to be accused of pride or boastfulness. Should a method will not work in leader recruitment.

What about leadership as an attitude of willingness? Are we willing to be considered to be an overseer? Are we willing to desire a noble task? Are we willing to be faithful and to be man of one wife, or wife of one husband? Are we willing to be temperate? Are we willing to be self-controlled? Are we willing to be respectable? Are we willing to show hospitality? Are we willing to learn to teach? Are we willing to strongly resist drunkenness, violence and the love of money? Are we determined to manage our own family well? Simply put, are we willing to obey the call to leadership, and to prepare to be called? If we are willing to any of them, we become a leader in the making. This is the biggest application of this passage of scripture.

C) Leadership is Not Open-Shelf Shopping
Leaders are seldom found but groomed. They are not caught from the sky but taught from among us. Very seldom can we get someone outside and expect them to fit in our existing culture. Churches who have done that will readily testify to the difficulty in getting the right person for the task. Before we venture outside, look inside. Before we assume an open-shelf shopping mentality on the leadership market outside,  remember that there is no such thing as a born leader. There are more leaders in the making than leaders already made. The simple reason is that every context and situation is different. Leaders who have been successful in one area may not necessarily be equally successful in another.

Leaders are made and those who are willing to learn are one of the best leaders in the making. Someone once said:
"It is not the aptitude or the altitude but the attitude that will make a difference."
This is perhaps the single biggest application for 1 Tim 3:16. We may aspire for leadership (altitude). We may lead with skills and talents we have (aptitude). Those alone are never enough. We need an attitude of 'setting our hearts' on desiring God, to serve God faithfully in whatever contexts we live in. Leaders lead by example in firstly leading their own selves. How can anyone who cannot manage his own life lead others? Only with a right attitude can one not only lead himself, he can also lead others toward God.

Seek Christ wholly. Help others seek Christ solely. Until we can all live out our seeking, by becoming Christlike in all our ways. Leadership as an attitude is to lead by a lifestyle of glorifying God in all we do. This is attitude and requirement for spiritual leadership.

Leadership is an attitude.


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