On Monday night of this week, our own Devin Tharp asked me to spend some time with the Student Leadership Team of Good Shepherd Student Ministries.
He asked me to talk to a group of leaders. About leadership.
Now: those of you who know me well know that I don’t read books by John Maxwell. I avoid leadership seminars. I recoil at the trend among pastors to become better CEOs than they are bedside chaplains.
And yet, Devin — himself an excellent leader of leaders — felt I had something to offer. So I shared three very simple points (this was not a sermon so I was allowed to have more than one point!) with the energetic gathering of high impact leaders:
1. The first person you lead. That’s you. You can’t lead people beyond where you are willing to go yourself. Leading yourself well in spiritual matters involves strict boundaries, personal discipline, and the recognition that moral failure brings discredit not only to you the leader but to the cause of Christ.
2. The price of leadership. You will be weird. When the Lord tells the children of Israel, “Be holy as I am holy,” he was telling them: be weird. Strange. Odd. You are surrounded by a world of pagans. Be monotheists. You are surrounded by a world of promiscuity. Be chaste. You are surrounded by a world of revenge. Be forgiving. I encouraged the student leaders to delight in the inevitable ridicule they will receive and to glory in their own weirdness. As Flannery O’Connor said, “then you shall know the truth and the truth will make you odd.”
3. Understand leadership in the Body. I shared with the students that I am a good leader of groups. I am a good leader of one. I can preach & inspire. I can counsel & comfort. Where I struggle — or, at least, where it is not natural — is in leading other leaders. But my point in all that was to remind them of the sufficiency of the Body of Christ. For example, Devin Tharp, Chris Macedo, and others on our team are excellent at leading leaders. They may not thrive at a hospice bedside like others of us do, but they have their fit. In his wisdom, Christ has made his body complete.
After all, our leadership is ultimately something he has loaned to us in the first place.