Trying to dig a posthole is problematic enough, having small children try to ‘help’ only makes it worse; usually they end up standing in the hole you are trying to dig. God exercises power by giving it to others to act in collaboration with Him in spite of the potential problems with this approach, Jesus models the same thing in His ministry; the disciples are often standing in the way of Jesus’ intended purpose. In handing a child a shovel, you are not actually asking them to help you dig a hole, you are offering to teach them how to use a tool; Jesus’ larger purpose had to do with what was happening in the disciples themselves. The Cross itself crystallizes this into a poignant focus, it is the exact point at which God empowers His people at His own expense; dealing with human opposition in a way that actually benefits us instead of eradicates us.
1) Power is for Others – Those who have power, influence, and control in the Christian community have been given this for the sake of others. Leadership is for the Church, not the other way around; strength is for service, not status. This makes discipleship (not mere education or direction, but rather building up others into Christ) the primary purpose and goal of leadership.
2) Leadership is for Equipping – An obvious corollary is the equipping function of leadership. Leaders should be creating space for others to learn to engage in the purposes of the Church. Our hiring practices greatly inhibit this; every time we hire outside our sphere of discipleship we communicate bad theology. Many will ask, “what do I do when I have a leadership shortage?” The response is, “you don’t have a leadership problem, you have a discipleship problem;”21 hiring people who can ‘get the job done’ reveals a failure to understand that the job is the creation of people who can get the job done. This, of course, signifies a willingness to allow ‘amateurs’ to lead the charge, which will frustrate some, just as it frustrated the Chief Priests in first century Palestine.22
3) Leadership is for Sending – The role of leadership in the Church is to commission the Church for pioneering work. This is a major problem point for the Church; we have difficulty breaking out of our ‘gathering’ paradigm and into a ‘sending’ one. We must be diligent at establishing new works by sending every capable soul to the mission field. This ties in directly to our definition of success; a large crowd with open wallets and smiling faces. If we actually understood that our “success is determined by our successors”23 we would be perfectly happy to dismantle our own ministry, send out dozens of new ministries, and start over from scratch.