We are inundated today by leadership theories – how to do this, what to say when, or which profiles we should develop or try to emulate. They are not all bad; in fact, most are good and profitable in some way. Many are drawn from the Scriptures. We often take them with a grain of salt and a “Yea, yea, sure, sure.” Perhaps what we need now is not another theory of leadership but the exercise of leadership.
The story is told of General Robert E. Lee’s troops in the Civil War coming to a river that had to be crossed. His engineers huddled in a tent over drawings and ideas of how this should be accomplished. While the engineers were burning midnight oil, his foot soldiers cut trees and quickly built a makeshift bridge over which the army could march.
Are we huddling too long over profiles, requirements, lists and methods while we could be cutting timber and getting the job done in a hands-on, practical way? Let’s put leadership in street clothes and start doing instead of talking. Rather than building bone skeletons of leadership theories, let’s put some flesh on the ones we already have.
The Pastoral Epistles are good examples of this concept. Although, Paul does submit profiles and qualifications, he instructs his protégés to do some things…now! They were already deemed qualified, so they were to act: “Put the brethren in remembrance of these things…refuse profane and old wives’ fables, but exercise thyself rather unto godliness…give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…meditate upon these things…honor widows…them that sin rebuke before all…keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable…charge them that are rich [not to] trust in uncertain riches…hold fast the form of sound words…preach the word…reprove, rebuke, exhort…exhort servants…reject [heretics]…rebuke with all authority….” Timothy and Titus were in the trenches, out where leadership had to be applied. They had to confront false prophets and doctrinal error, teach every segment of the congregation about their opportunities and responsibilities, and live out their instructions in full view of those they were teaching. Seminars were not held every quarter for refreshers in technique. Books on leadership principles were not crowding the shelves of the local markets. They had to do it!
Are we talking to our youth class about how to survive spiritually in their educational environment? How to choose a life mate? How to witness to peers?
Are we training men in small groups to guide their families? Assigning older women to teach the younger how to love their husbands and rear their children? Counseling the dating or the engaged in the principles of marital harmony?
Are we managing the business affairs of the church in an efficient manner? Providing direction to the church in the construction of new facilities? Casting a vision for the future?
Talking about leadership is good; practicing it is better. The time is now when the principles of leadership have to come off the paper, put on some overalls and go to work. Just do it!
by J.R. Ensey