Leadership: Position or Service? Dependent or Independent?


What We Do Rather Than Who We Are Is Important

I believe a leader is a person who has people following for the purpose of their equipping, growing, and nurturing with the ultimate goal of their release into independence, standing on their own, and begin equipping others to reproduce themselves. Leaderhip IS NOT creating a following of dependency on you.

I know a church that has seen the size of their eldership dwindle substantially over the years and not replace them. They are a church where on Sundays the staff and elders do everything the congregation hardly anything: Leads worship, gives the announcements, greetings, and offertory, and sermon.  If there is ministry to be done during the service in the front of the church, the elders are called to do it because the senior pastor wants to expose his elders to his people.  Being an usher is the only non-staff exposure of the morning, but the staff church administrator does the rest.

In a church that was strongly prophetic in the 1990’s who trained their people to hear God for themselves and developed prophetic presbyteries, today hardly a prophetic utterance is given during any service.  The sanctuary is full, yet I cannot reiterate anyone’s testimony of their salvation experience since I have never heard it.  I have no idea what God is doing among his people, for there is no time for them to share testimonies of what God is currently doing in their lives.  A large amount of time is given for announcements of upcoming church programs and activities, but not for the saints to share what Jesus is doing in their lives. 

The pastor of this church told the congregation that his goals for this coming year was to enlarge the elder base of his church and begin training leaders.  He threw out the comments to the men of the congregation, “Where are you?” implying that they should be coming forth as leaders. One fallacy of this mindset is that if you enabled a congregation to be passive, don’t expect them to become aggressive leaders. If they can’t serve unless they are staff, don’t expect them to serve as leaders.

Those attending Sunday church service have been “enabled” to not do or initiate anything on their own, only follow what has been preprogrammed by the staff: sing along following projected lyrics to loud music where only the lead singer and his backup band can be heard, stand when told, be seated when told, give financially when told, and greet one another when told, then sit quietly but look inventive during the sermon given by staff. It is like those in the congregation are puppets on a string.

I contend that just because they are following everything the people on the platform are telling them to do; the people on the platform are not necessarily true leaders just because they are being followed.  What is the purpose of leadership? According to Ephesians 4 it is to “equip the saints for the work of service.” The goal for leadership should be to equip those following them to replace them!  Reproduction should be the goal!  If you are producing dependent robots on your command, you will just get robots who know nothing else but follow your command. They will not be able to stand, mature, on their own.  One of the main goals of the five fold is to bring maturity, Christ-likeness, to believers: develop a believer into the fullness of Jesus Christ, not create religious robots.

If leadership is leading through service, not dictation, followers will imitate their modeling of service toward maturity, and eventually have to be “released” to stand on their own.  Leadership through service, not dictation, reproduces leadership.  I contend that the Christian church fails miserably in equipping the saints for the work of service opting to trust and rely on their paid professional staff producing complacency.  Those in the congregation will never develop toward maturity if they are not allowed to participate, initiate, and serve one another.