Leadership Baggage

Sam Rainer

March 30, 2011

God created leadership for the church. Jesus is the chief Shepherd, and he sets aside other shepherds to lead the church by serving under him. Members of the church body are to “obey” and “submit” to those who “keep watch” over their spiritual development. These leaders, however, are not to abuse their authority but rather lead by example. This relationship between leaders and followers in the church is clothed in humility through God’s gift of grace.

Within the context of the local church, God desires for some to lead and others to follow, both with mutual respect and submission to each other. Leaders serve the people; the people submit to the examples of leaders. All leaders, however, bring baggage into this relationship. It’s easier to point out the things your followers need to change, while it’s harder to unwind your leadership baggage from God’s plan for your church.

We church leaders can disguise this baggage as a “ministry philosophy,” when it can be nothing more than our own prejudices and preferences. What are some ways we carry baggage? I’ve begun a list below, but please add your own thoughts in the comment section.

Preferences. Some leaders simply rebrand their personal preferences as the “vision” for everyone. True vision is collection. True vision takes into account the preferences and gifts of all followers.

Experience. Most of the time, leadership experience adds wisdom. This same experience, however, can mold our thought process into doing things the same way as before. For example, if you’re a leader in a new position, it’s far easier to lean heavily upon previous solutions in past leadership roles. It’s harder to form new solutions that fit the current context using experience only as a guide.

Hurt. The longer you lead, the more hurt you will experience. Getting hurt—particularly as a senior leader—is inevitable.  Learning to cope with the jabs thickens the hide, but projecting previous offenses on others attempting to offer constructive criticism is an easy mistake to make.

Oversimplification. Veteran leaders have a valuable perspective. This veteran perspective enables them to make decisions quickly and clarify complex problems. When veteran leaders get too far in front of their followers, however, they can oversimplify these problems. Sometimes overly simplistic solutions are more confusing than the problem.

All leaders bring baggage into a relationship with their followers. Recognize this baggage. Avoid using it. Discard the baggage when possible, and be a better leader.

2 comments on “Leadership Baggage”

  1. Eric Sipe says:

    Great start on a much-needed topic. I would add: Trying Too Hard. In seeking to be fresh, innovative, or cutting edge, leaders of churches over-react and go too far. They loose the central message of the Gospel and the need to reproduce others in careful discipleship. Shepherding calls calls for hard work and less innovation.

  2. A. Amos Love says:

    Anyone… I was wondering…
    Where are you with the use of the word “leader” for a“Disciple of Christ?” 😉

    Jesus always took and recommended the **low place.** Yes?
    The word “leader” seems like a “high place.” Yes?

    Seems Jesus has a unique take on “Leaders” for **His Body.** “ONE”

    As man – Jesus humbled Himself, made himself of NO reputation,
    and took on the form of a **Servant.** Php 2:7-8. 😉

    How do “you” reconcile the use of the word “leader”
    when “Jesus” told **His disciples** NOT to be called “leader?”

    Jesus, in Mat 23:10 KJV, told **His disciples** “NOT” to call themselves
    “Master / Leaders,” for you have “ONE” “Master / Leader” “The Christ.”

    King James Version –
    Neither be ye called masters:
    for “ONE” is your Master, even Christ.

    The Interlinear Bible –
    Nor be called leaders,
    for “ONE” is your leader the Christ.

    Phillips Modern English –
    you must not let people call you leaders,
    you have only “ONE” leader, Christ.

    Today’s English Version –
    nor should you be called leader.
    your “ONE” and only leader is the Messiah.

    Jesus told **His disciples** NOT to be called **leaders** and NONE did.

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    **His Disciples** all called themselves **Servants.**
    None called themselves “Leaders.” None? None.
    None called themselves “Servant-Leader.” None.

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders”
    and someone calls them self a “leader” or thinks they are a “leader;”

    Are they a “Disciple of Christ?”
    Or, are they NO LONGER a “Disciple of Christ?” Oy Vey!!! 😉
    Or, are they just a **disobedient** “Disciple of Christ?” 😉

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? 😉

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When?

    Be blessed in your search for Truth… Jesus.

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