"When you're no longer trying NOT to become something, you will be on the road to TRUE freedom."
Darin Hufford said this during his podcast, “A Whole Other Animal.” I think we can so easily fall into the trap of wanting to be free, that we even throw out those things that are legitimate. For example, he and Aimee Dassele discussed leadership. Once we leave the institutional world with its over emphasis on leadership, we tend to want to throw out the whole concept and do away with leaders. Well, the book of Judges in the Bible is filled with examples of what happens when there are no leaders. As the author of that book of the Bible said, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” and the result was chaos and lawlessness.
Because leadership has been misused in the institutional church, it’s become a dirty word for those who have moved away from the institutional forms of church. This is understandable, however, the truth is that God has established leaders in the church but, as was stated in the podcast, leadership is meant to be organic. Leaders were never meant to be the ones who lord it over the regular members because they’ve gone to seminary or have been ordained. In the church, I believe the purpose of leaders is to draw out the life of God that has been deposited in the hearts of those they lead. I was glad to hear Darin admit that he’s a leader because I believe he fits this picture.
When the early church appointed leaders, I believe they were simply recognizing those among them who were already functioning as leaders. Leadership isn’t a job with a job description. It’s a function and leaders are leaders even when they don’t have a job title. Leaders are easily recognized because … they lead! It’s a natural function of who they are and, in a casual setting, they may not even know they’re leading yet people are being influenced.
My husband, who is a leader, has served on several juries and each time, the other jury members have recognized his leadership abilities and he’s always been chosen to be the foreman of the jury. I’ve only been on one jury but, when it came time to pick our foreman, we knew exactly who to pick. He hadn’t done anything spectacular to attract attention to himself but, through the course of normal conversation, his leadership abilities were obvious.
Leadership was never meant to be static as it is in institutional groups. In any group, it should change from person to person depending on the circumstances and the needs of the group at that time. Any time there’s a group, leadership will naturally evolve. I think the TV program “Lost” is a good example of that. When the flight crew was killed in the crash, leadership arose among the passengers and it would often change depending on the need at the time. In my family, leadership often changes too. There are some areas of life where I’m totally clueless and I depend on my husband to make the decisions for us but there are other areas that are mine to decide and he pretty much goes along with my decision.
Recently, my husband and I had a fascinating conversation about leadership and he explained to me what makes a leader a leader. As he explained it, a leader is a visionary who inspires others with his vision. Darin Hufford in my opinion definitely is a visionary. He had a vision for the Free Believers Network long before it came to pass and he held onto it even when it looked like it would never become a reality. Another good example of a visionary is William Wallace in the movie “Braveheart.” He had a vision of freedom for his people and he so inspired his fellow tribesmen with that vision that they were willing to go to war against England, a super power of that day. His vision was so powerful that even his death couldn’t keep it from coming to pass and another leader arose who took that vision and led the people to freedom.
My husband also explained that, although a leader may have a vision, they usually lack the skills needed to bring that vision to pass so even the most compelling vision will die if there’s no one to take it beyond the visionary stage. Therefore, managers are needed. Managers have the ability and skills needed to take a leader’s vision, administrate it and bring it to pass. Leaders and managers are meant to function hand in hand, however, insecure leaders will often refuse to give authority to managers thereby effectively sabotaging and destroying their own vision.
My husband’s insight into the heart of a leader gave me another piece of the puzzle which helped me to understand how God has uniquely created me. I’ve known for some time now that I have administrative abilities. The confusion for me was due to the fact that leadership books tend to lump everything together and label it all leadership. However, by separating the managerial aspects from the visionary aspects of leadership, the role of leadership became more clear to me and I understood my place in the big picture.
In the institutional church, leadership training has become a big issue and is widely promoted. The result being that everyone wants to be a leader. While it’s true that we all have a unique set of gifts that will benefit the other members of the church, few are gifted as leaders or even managers for that matter. The truth is neither leaders nor managers are more important in the church, however, both are needed if the church is to move forward. We need leaders who are functioning as leaders and managers who are functioning as managers.
A true leader inspires hope where there is no hope and, despite all odds, the impossible becomes possible and the unattainable becomes attainable. In the Bible, it’s said that without a vision, the people perish. Although there seems to be a lack of leadership in the church as well as in the world, in my opinion, we desperately need the inspiration that only a leader can bring. So, as we learn to live free in Christ, let’s also recognize those leaders among us and allow them to inspire us with the vision that God has planted in their hearts.