the baby and the bathwater

Still Number One
May 28, 2009, 3:52 pm
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May 28, 2009, 3:15 pm
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Servant Leadership?
May 12, 2009, 9:17 am
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I came across a saying about leadership recently that has significantly impacted me in my walk in church leadership, and it’s this:

‘Leadership is primarily about helping others to achieve things that they couldn’t achieve on their own’.

In one sense it flies in the face of alot of what we see and perceive about leadership these days. You know the sort of thing – I can only be a good leader of other worship leaders if I have those things that give ‘credibility’ to my leadership – the odd Dove award, a worship song in the top 25 of the CCLI chart, a chart-busting album. These things, we explain, give others around us things to aim for, models to aspire to, so it is OK to go for them. Or if I am a church leader, I can only be a good leader of other church leaders if I have a book on the ‘best-sellers’ shelf in Wesley Owen, or a big following on my blog, or a full diary of leadership events where I speak.

Now as usual I am being a little cynical to make a point, but so often we feel that the only way to lead people better is to have an even greater public personal profile. And there may be a small element of truth in that. But only a small element. The thing is that, if we see leadership as more about helping others achieve things, then we often need to take on lower profile to make that happen. In fact maybe your most powerful testimony as a worship pastor should be not so much how well you lead worship, but how well those under your leadership lead worship. Maybe the greatest success as a church leader will not be the size of your church, but the size of the churches of the leaders you have mentored.

Just recently I have been involved in a few projects where I have sensed very different things: one where I have seen others to step up to the mark and lead things that they previously haven’t led before. And that has been awesome to see. People leading worship, leading ministry, doing the stuff in a way that I haven’t seen them do before. Of course, I probably won’t get any credit for it – (not that I am bothered). The other project has been the opposite, where I have seen the more gifted and more skilled head off into the distance, presumably to ‘model something for people to aspire to’ and left behind the very people they have been tasked with leading. And of course, it is questionable whether this is leadership at all.

Now of course, I am aware that leadership probably needs some element of both. I know that I can’t really lead other worship leaders if I am not leading worship well. I probably can’t mentor younger leaders if I am not pressing into leadership myself. But I recon there is a whole lot more scope in our celebrity, ego and profile driven culture for a bit more of a bias towards servant-leadership – not just more talk about it, but the living out of it, where we truly do see those around us start to achieve things that they couldn’t do on their own.

MP’s Expenses
May 8, 2009, 11:28 am
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Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church about issues of morality. In their day, in that society, the moral issue that Paul needed to speak into was that of sexuality. But the principles he spoke about are, in my mind, applicable to other morality issues. And the current debate on MP’s expenses is one such issue.

Paul says that “just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Most of what we see being revealed in the publication on MP’s expenses is technically legal. They have followed guidelines, met the requirements of the process. However, if the allegations in the press today are true, then many of them have fallen woefully short of any morality standards we should expect of the political leaders of the nation.

I have been in stressful jobs requiring long hours, lots of travel, and a constant need to be presenting a strong public face. At such times I have always had to have ‘everything in it’s right place’ in terms of my domestic circumstances. I understand the need to remove as many as possible of those practical things in life that can cause extreme frustration when you work in such environments – whether having a clean and tidy home near the place of work, of being able to get a good meal when time does not allow for cooking, of having communications working properly, of travel arrangements going to plan. And this is what is probably behind the rules – the technicalities – of MP’s expenses systems. And I am OK about that.

However, in such things, the rules will never provide the most compelling framework for a moral lifestyle. No, for that you need to have integrity. You need to operate the rules from a place of good character, good intentions, and good convictions. And it seems that this is where we are all feeling let down. In fact, I really don’t want to hear the phrase ‘I was acting within the rules’ in this debate again. What I want to here is some more people to show us how they have been operating out of integrity, not rules.

We can, and probably will have to, change the rules. But until we get evidence of greater integrity amongst our political leaders, no doubt we will be in this place again at some point in the future. Because without a strong moral framework, even such powerful people will be slaves to their whims.