Leadership to Silos

March 25, 2014

Reblogged from: I'm Just Saying

One of my dear friends once said, “The cost of discipleship is great. The cost of not following is even greater.” Jesus must have had an amazing charisma. Scripture says he looked at the fishermen James and John and they dropped their nets and followed. Jesus passed by Matthew’s tax booth and Matthew got up and followed. Some argue that they knew who Jesus was and they were waiting for the privilege of walking with him. Others have said that being chosen by a Rabbi was a way out a menial life. Regardless, it sounds almost too easy.

The United Methodist Church is investing a great deal into pastoral leadership and finding clergy with an entrepreneurial spirit, but I wonder if the equation is missing something. Yes, leadership is certainly important, make no mistake. The church would benefit from clergy with a fearless vision and a reckless abandon for the world-changing Gospel, but the more I hear the word, “Leadership” tossed around the room, what I seem to be hearing is “Radical Clergy Independence.” In other words, and take it for what you will, what’s missing in the leadership equation is the art of following; rather it is the recognition of my connectedness within a larger system.

To put it another way, I am the father of three beautiful daughters. I want my daughters to be leaders in the world, to have an independent spirit, to express cognitive creativity, to change the establishment . . . except I want them to have all of these characteristics when they no longer live under their parent’s roof. I want them to criticize the establishment, but not the establishment I have created. I want them to be a part of a movement against institution, but the institution needs a tidy room and completed homework. I AM THE LEADER . . . and that’s where I’m missing the mark.

There were others, you know. There were those who didn’t follow. Some had things they had to do (Luke 9:57-62). Others felt the mission was too much (Mark 10:22). Some were offended at the strangeness of Jesus’ message (John 6:66).

followWe are all following something. We seem hardwired to follow. We follow social norms like the car pool diagram, traffic laws, and lining up in a single-file line at the movie theater ticket window. We tend to follow a pattern of preference like cup or cone at the ice cream counter or whether your favorite color shirt is blue or green. Our actions are profoundly dictated by desire, whether your passion is a desire to do good, become wealthy, maintain influence, all of the above, or none.

Desire is the catalyst for satisfying a perceived emptiness, like eating to fill an empty belly or playing candy crush to fill time during commercial breaks or seeking companionship to meet loneliness or finding a good book for a hungry imagination.

paradoxBut therein lies a paradox of sorts. Following Christ is never complete or finished, yet it satisfies a hungering soul. Discipleship is a satiating emptiness, a satisfying selflessness, a self-emptying fullness. It is a self emptying which leaves you spent in the best way. True, it doesn’t make the most sense on paper, but it is why they dropped their nets and put the tax papers away. Discipleship must be experienced.

silosI wonder if what’s missing in the leadership equation is the art of following, the art of allowing the heart of the Trinity to direct our vision, not demographic statistics or the market or the next big sexy international mission destination. The Trinity is a self-emptying fulness in which each person of the Trinity empties into the next. Empty and full at the same time. How might Father, Son, and Spirit keep us from teaching leadership to silos?