One of the fundamental differences between Saul’s leadership and David’s leadership in the Old Testament was its focus. For Saul, it was about him. He was king, he had the power and he believed that he could make the critical calls without heeding Godly advice or even God’s advice. Essentially leadership was about him. It was a self centered leadership and a selfish leadership.
Leaders who believe that it is about them become arrogant leaders who believe their own press and believe that since they got into the position it must mean that they are pretty good and have the wisdom to make the calls. One sees this in political leaders on a regular basis – and among many business leaders.
leaders in the God’s arena, however, know that we play by a different set of rules. For us, leadership is a trust. Peter makes this clear when he says to elders of the church, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).
What is intriguing in this passage is that Paul eliminates the motives for leadership that drive leaders – money, power and personal agendas. In fact, he makes it clear that our leadership is simply a “trust” given to us by the true leader of the church – Christ. And, he says that the core of our leadership comes from who we are and the depth that has been developed within us when he tells us to lead by being examples to the flock. He is saying that the most powerful influence, the deepest influence that we will have as leaders comes from our lives, and our lives are simply the outward expression of our inner core.
This frankly is the missing element in many who give leadership to the church. They may be good leaders but their lives do not reflect a deep inner core of spiritual maturity, wisdom, understanding and attitudes that come from a deep place within themselves. Often it is not a leadership of deep influence but rather a shallow leadership that is more about their agenda for the congregation than God’s agenda. Not necessarily out of lack of desire to serve well but because the spiritual depth has not been developed that naturally spills out in their thinking, actions and attitudes. It is a leadership that has not been marinated in the things of God.
The reason the distinction between leadership about me or Him is so central to our leadership role is that as leaders of ministries, God has an agenda for how our church or organization can specifically contribute to His work in this world. Understanding that agenda and how we can serve His plan can only come out of relationship, dependence and an understanding of what God wants to do in our world. It is not primarily about our wisdom but about His presence and our understanding of Him informing all that we do as leaders under his Lordship.
Deep influence is about influence that has been deeply informed by our relationship with God, our understanding of his character through scripture, the wisdom that comes from above rather than simply from ourselves, and the personal character, wisdom, and dependence that spills out of our lives because of the deep waters within. The deeper our leadership is informed by God and His agenda and His character within us, the deeper our influence. Our influence is actually His influence lived through us!
This last truth is the greatest reason that we ought to do all we can to go deep with God. Our influence is connected to His influence. We become His agents of influence when our lives are deeply connected and informed by Him. Our leadership is an extension of His leadership which is precisely why Peter calls elders in the church shepherds who work for the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:2-4).
Our leadership is an extension of His leadership. Any eternal influence we have is an extension of His influence. Our effectiveness as leaders is directly connected to the depth of our connection and relationship with Him. Clearly, our leadership is therefore about Him and not about us. The question is whether our leadership reflects that truth.