Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Follow the Leader

What is a leader, and why should we follow them? C. S. Lewis points out that there has been a major change in about the last hundred years of human history as to what a leader is. In earlier times the leader (more often referred to as a ruler) was to maintain stability and quiet and to do his work competently and honestly. His chief qualifications were a good moral character and the ability (and if possible experience) to do the job well. A generally boring individual. It was the bad rulers that generated excitement. But in modern times all this has changed. We now want leaders who give us direction and vision, who have a program. We want those who will take initiative and be charismatic and direct us to their vision of a better world. We want them to excite us about their dream for a bright future. But somehow this better world never seems to materialize. This is founded on the progress mentality. This is the adaptation of advancements in the area of science and technology, applying them without basis to all of life. But just because we are advancing in one area (an area on which we have concentrated considerable attention and effort) does not mean we are or will advance in all others. And the perpetual longing for something new very easily can become newness simply for newness' sake.

This same concept of leadership can be found in the Christian church. Now Scripture, in looking at leaders, puts the primary emphasis on character (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 4:12; 1 Peter 5:1-3). They are also to be those who can carry out their functions competently, particularly with regard to teaching the Word of God (Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:1-4). Yet we have come to value leaders not for this, but for giving direction and casting vision, resulting in the production of new and exciting programs. (Before someone quotes Proverbs 29:18, I need to point out that the vision here is prophetic vision, inspired revelation, not the modern idea of subjective imagination.) If anything, we should do God's work and trust in Him to guide us (Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Ephesians 2:10), not base our ministry on whatever new fad has become popular. From this trust in God we may be established in God's teaching (Ephesians 4:14-16; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 20:27) and God's character (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Ephesians 5:1). It is easy to be attracted by a flashy show, but we should base our lives around substance.

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