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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Cancel culture is the oldest blame game in the book. When man sought to honour God’s word in the garden the serpent told him God was actually the problem. It’s because he didn’t want you to be like him. Satan made the loving creator God the enemy of human progress. He wasn’t to be listened to leave alone obeyed. Human history began by cancelling God out. Adam would then borrow a leaf from the serpent when he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Who was to blame for this? It was the woman God made not forgetting Adam was there when Eve was deceived. Adam would in one breath blame God and Eve while he comes out merely as a victim of circumstances. To Adam, those around him were the problem, not him and his sin.

When this is our culture old ideas like honour and respect sound so backwards that for many people they don’t even make sense.

This old lie would then be passed down the generations taking different forms but with the same end goal. Whenever we find ourselves in a fix we immediately find someone to blame especially those in authority. Interestingly we never start with ourselves. If something is going wrong in an organisation or we are not feeling as fulfilled we immediately find the enemy. If we are struggling at home and we aren’t like that other couple we know who to blame. If our church isn’t meeting our needs and not tailor-making the service to our comfort we know who to blame. But in none of these situations do we stop to ask if we might be the problem. Instead, we immediately mount an opposition to the leader with an aim to cancel him out since after all he’s our arch enemy.

When this is our culture old ideas like honour and respect sound so backwards that for many people they don’t even make sense. Why would we respect authority when it’s the problem? Why should we honour those in leadership when we’ve made them into our mortal enemy? Why would we respect our pastor when we’ve concluded the church would be better without him? Why listen to that deacon when we believe he’s out to take advantage of us? Why would the woman submit to a husband who is a symbol of oppression? Why would we even pay taxes when we think we might be better off without a government?

It’s for this reason that we only realise someone was a good leader when they leave office. We spend so much time finding fault with our leaders that we don’t stop to appreciate how much we need them.

But while not all leaders are worthy of respect more often than not we are the ones who’ve chosen not to respect them. We’ve drunk so much of this cancel culture that we will never have anyone in office worthy of our respect. Immediately someone gets a place of leadership even when he was a former friend he becomes our number one enemy or we are branded, collaborators. It’s for this reason that we only realise someone was a good leader when they leave office. We spend so much time finding fault with our leaders that we don’t stop to appreciate how much we need them. Worse in the Christian space we don’t even praise God for the good leaders he gives us because we are always suspicious of them.

Pause for a moment and imagine how lonely this makes the place of leadership. Add to that the godly requirements of a leader when those in his care think of him as the enemy. Think about that pastor who labours hard in prayer, creates time to meet the members, stays up late to prepare helpful Biblical sermons, goes out to look for funding, has a family to look after and perhaps a job on the side and yet his congregants think he’s the problem. You could add the name of an organisation leader, a husband and father, a government official and your CEO. While they may not all be the best and most sacrificial leaders I think we owe them the honour that comes with that office. It should especially be the case when it’s a Christian leader who’s trying his best to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

Before we cancel them out let’s give them a chance by praying for them, submitting to them and offering our advice and help. Above all let’s remember God requires us to honour our leaders.

I think we need to stop waiting for the leader to fall so we can justify our verdict on him. We need to stop overanalyzing their performance and motivations. We need to stop thinking the worst of them. We need to stop waiting for them to get into a scandal so we can cancel them out. We need to start by giving them the benefit of the doubt. We need to appreciate that it’s always better to have a leader because the alternative is chaos. We need to notice that they are trying their level best. We need to realise that sometimes, and most times we are part of the problem. We need to view leaders as God’s instruments to bring order to disorder. We need to be for leaders not against them. Before we cancel them out let’s give them a chance by praying for them, submitting to them and offering our advice and help. Above all let’s remember God requires us to honour our leaders.

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Here in Kenya, we are preparing to go to the general elections next year. I bet you’ll hear a lot about the kind of leaders we want or need. We will all hopefully get a chance to choose who to lead us. The problem is leaders can’t choose who to lead. Sure they can pick a constituency and position of influence but they can’t pick and choose the people. They can have the best manifesto and the most elaborate implementation plan but they can’t have the best people to lead. What’s worse is they’ll have to deal with those who already hold them with suspicion. People who don’t want to be led by them.

But what does that have to do with shepherding you ask? Well, everything. You see many of us think the problem with leadership is that we don’t have good leaders. And while we apply that mostly to political leaders we can also share the same attitude in Christian ministry. Get the right person and leadership works, we say. Everyone will be happy, godly, and prosperous. In truth, the best of leaders have to endure harsh criticism and opposition because people don’t want to be led. We enjoy the merits of good leadership but we don’t really want to be led even by the best of leaders. If we did Jesus would face no opposition from our world. People from every nation and race would gather around to serve him who truly cares for them. You’d think the best leader would have everyone following them and doing so joyfully.

But the word of God is unashamed to tell us who we truly are, that we are all rebels. We’ve all gone our separate ways when it comes to God and his authority on us.
Romans 3 says:

10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.
Romans 3 NIV.

We are all sinners who especially hate God’s authority and with it any other form of authority. The world heaps all kinds of praises and massages our ego but the word speaks plainly here. Where the world says we are mostly good but shaped by our environment the word says we are inherently wicked and that it is us who shape our environment that way. That’s the problem of leadership and shepherding. The problem behind every other problem we face is the problem of sin. Adam chose his way and likewise, we do the same. People don’t want to be led and leaders don’t want to be held accountable because they don’t want to be led either. Politicians don’t want to be asked questions and citizens don’t want leaders telling them what to do and how to live.

Back to shepherding and it’s the same problem in Christian ministry. You’d think the redeemed would celebrate good leadership and to some extent, they do as adopted saints. But the presence of indwelling sin in our hearts means we still are rehabilitated rebels. There will be occasions when we despise leadership even from the best pastor and youth worker. Moses was a great sacrificial leader, a Saviour and yet Israel made his life hard. Jesus came to die for his people and if you think perfect leadership none fits the bill more. But he was not only rejected by the religious leaders but the masses demanded for him to be crucified.

If we then approach shepherding thinking that if we do our best, that if we die for the people they’ll love and make it easy for us we are in for a surprise. And yet if we are not willing to die for those we serve we fall short of Jesus’ model and his call to be undershepherds. So how do we shepherd people who naturally don’t want to be led and do it sacrificially?

The first thing is to know we are shepherding among rebels and we too are rebels. It means we know people for who they are and our leadership surpasses mere appreciation to serve a higher goal. John tells us something striking about Jesus in his Gospel. In John 2 we are told:

24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. John 2 NIV.

What is striking is that Jesus knew us more than anyone else, he knew our deep-seated rebellion, and yet he came to die for us. This is shepherding that does not depend on the applause of the sheep. It’s shepherding that follows the way of the Cross. It says that God’s approval and recognition is enough for us. It gives the very best to people who may not naturally want to be led. Such realization will safeguard us from the idolatry of approval and appreciation. It’ll be to God that we look and not merely what we gain from the people. And when people do appreciate and idolize us, our hearts will be shielded from pride.

But since the condition of the heart is also true of us as Gospel ministers we need to ask ourselves if we are also responding similarly. You see it’s not just the normal congregant who has an issue with leadership, our Gospel ministers also don’t want to be undershepherds under the great Shepherd. We can’t lead if we don’t want to follow. How can we ask people to submit to our leadership and shepherding if we won’t submit to Jesus and those he’s entrusted with leadership?

We need to remember we are first his disciples before we are Gospel ministers, first sheep before shepherds, and only undershepherds. Before we murmur and complain of rebel sheep we need to survey our hearts. Would the chief Shepherd say the same of us? To shepherd among rebels, we need to kill our own rebellion and submit to our great Shepherd and those he’s given charge over us. If we desire leadership we must learn submission to godly leadership. If we would be undershepherds we need to obey and follow in the footsteps of our chief shepherd.

To the shepherds among us please remember these words from the apostle Peter:

5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flockAnd when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5. NIV

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