A Thought on Leadership Patterns

As I have been working on a new project on Mark's Gospel, I have noted something in the OT which rings true. Israel after entering the land functioned with a kind of limited democracy, without a king, with 12 Tribes sharing power, the ark moving from tribe to tribe. Yet, as we read Judges the whole thing disintergrated. Israel went into a cycle of sin - despair- deliverance - peace - sin again. Leaders rose up who would bring salvation, yet as the narrative flows they fall deeper and deeper into self destruction through idolatry and sin. The leadership system of the Judges failed completely.

They thus cried out for a king, a kind of leadership system with one ruler. He was meant to be compassionate and good as is YHWH while preserving Israel's purity and fidelity to the covenant. Yet over time the monarchy disintergrated, Israel split, went down the tubes, and was in complete despair. The monarchy too failed.

Then they returned from exile and leadership fell into the hands of the priests. However, Israel disintergrated into factionalism (Sadducee, Essene, Pharisee, Zealot etc), they became legalistic (although this is disputed). Anywho, it wasn't working. The critique of Jesus says it all.

None of these leadership structures worked, they all failed.

We see in the world today varying models. Westminster systems, federal systems, monarchies, dictatorships. We see capitalism, we see communism and variants there of. in the church we have episcopalianism, autocratic models, corporate models, presbyterianism, congregationalism, and a million variants. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

The point to me is that the system is not the point. It is the people, their hearts, and employing the principles of justice and compassion. For Christians, the system is not the point, it is leaders who reflect the heart of Christ and people who respond. I have a friend who believes the west needs to move to benevolent dictatorship models. I told him that a 'benevolent dictator' is an oxymoron. After all, how do you become a benevolent dictator? It requires a revolution which means blood and a lack of benevolence.

But what he is responding to is the failure of democracy in Britain. It is being corrupted by politicians who work the system for personal gain, and by greed among the wealthy who can work the system. People are now opting out and instead of voting are simply not bothering because they believe it does nothing. They have a point. Political parties have become attuned not to principle, but to popular politics to get reelected. The whole system is coming apart.

But the solution is not a new system in my view. It is a heart and values problem. Western culture is losing its Judea-Christian value base as it rejects the gospel and church. I can understand why they are rejecting Church and Christian faith, but it is the faith and Spirit that, like a nuclear reactor, warmed the hearts of westerners.

Having travelled through a series of nations which were once great, one can feel western civilisation coming apart. These civiliations functioned on a blend of religion and politics where they fed off each other. Greek civilisation came apart through philosophers who questioned the religious and political system, it weakened the Empire. Others are similar.

We are in a quandry in my view. Where we name Jesus as Lord, we need to model not a system, but heart relationships with leadership Jesus' way, and the establishment of a just, fair, merciful world. People are deeply suspicious of leadership. Take the Irish and the Catholics. We need a new era of leadership in church and society which is consistent, ethical, just and merciful. May it come to be.


Anonymous said…
I believe that you can't train leadership (you can impart some skills), you either have it in the DNA or your don't.

We often expect to much 'leadership/managerial' ability from some of our church 'leaders' and that they in turn give their all, and sometimes struggle and that in that struggle their actual gifts are stifled, and sometimes they burn out. The body has to take some responsibility for that.

If we want our church 'leaders' to reflect Christ then time and resources should be made available, indeed it should be mandatory for them to have time away and alone 'in quiet' with God. Lying in the Son . . they need to be nurtured in this way with the rest of the body picking up the slack. Not allowing their workload to get to a level where they are consumed by earthly matters (even when driven by love) that they have no time to be refueled by the one who is Love, or at best they squeeze it into an overloaded schedule.
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