Leadership in the Church (1 of 3)
Mark Yarbrough:Welcome to DTS Dialogue - Issues of God in Culture. I'm your host, Mark Yarbrough, Executive Director of Communications at Dallas Theological Seminary, and today our discussion topic is "Leadership in the Church".
I am thrilled to have here at the table with me today, Dr. Aubrey Malphurs, sitting across to my right, Professor of Pastoral Ministries. And to Aubrey's right, or to my left is, Dr. Andy Seidel, Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership, here at DTS. And so gentlemen, thank you very much in the midst of a busy semester already, thank you for your time.
Dr. Andy Seidel:You're welcome, great to be here. Good to be here Mark.
Mark:Greatly appreciate it. Leadership in the Church - goodnight! That is a huge topic. Thinking about just leadership in general, we could have 50, 60, 70 questions that we could come up with about leadership. And how to become focused on that topic is always difficult, but we've crafted a few questions that we'll kind of kick around here today.
And actually, we could talk about the very first one in the title of our topic - Leadership in the Church. It is always a fair question to ask the obvious, and that is when we say, "Leadership in the Church," let's just first talk about what we even mean by the church. That is a discussion topic that you hear on a regular basis today. So, Aubrey, let me punt that to you, this very first question. When we talk about leadership in the Church, what do we mean by, "the church"?
Dr. Aubrey Malphurs:Well, a lot of us will talk about, "Well, I'm going to go to the church this morning," or "I'm going to run over to the church and replace something, or do something over there," and what we're really referring to there is the facility, or the building in which we meet, and that's not really what we're talking about here, obviously. Whenever we look at a question like that, we have to ask, at least in our evangelical context, what does the Bible say about the church and what is that? It would seem to me that we see the church in two contexts in the New Testament, and that is what we refer to as, the universal church, which would include all believers in Jesus Christ, all of those who know him as personal savior.
And then there would be the local form of that universal church. What we would refer to as, the local church, where we come together as a group of people in a specific geographical location in a building, which is really not the church. But, we meet there for certain purposes to accomplish a certain mission. So, that's how I would define the church. For me it would be more of a focus on the Local church, because that's where so much activity takes place.
Mark: Gotcha. So, we've got these two wide categories - universal - local. New Testament speaks of both groups.
Mark:Talks about believers as a whole. That would be referencing the universal church. Local, is often times what we mean when we say, "a church." We're talking about a geographic local. A group of believers that are meeting together, that are part of the universal, but they're Local, in that they are a focus group that meets one with another. It is a local community of believers.
Aubrey: Right. For specific purpose, with a mission to accomplish certain functions.
Mark: Gotcha. Dr. Seidel?
Andy:You know, I think one thing that we could say to this, if we talk about the universal church. There are all kinds of missions, para-church organizations that exist for particularly ministry function and much of what we say here about leadership in the local church is going to apply to them as well, because leadership kind of crosses those boundaries. And while there are some specific issues related to a Local church and leadership, leadership itself should be expressed in both of those areas.
Mark:Gotcha. Makes complete sense. Okay, let's ask this question, "What difference is there if any between leadership, and servant leadership?" You know you hear this "servant motif" used quite frequently in our context of Christianity, and rightfully so. It is a true New Testament word; it is also a biblical metaphor, if you will. We cannot help but think when we talk about servant prospectives, or servant leadership, if you will, obviously our ultimate model that we have of Jesus Christ.
And we all probably have that wonderful picture of, the foot-washing scene, and the Gospel of John, and the wonderful acts of Christ. Is there a difference between leadership, and servant leadership? I've heard a lot of discussion about that lately. What can we contribute to that discussion?
Andy:I think there's a great difference between them, because if you look at the leadership literature. People will talk about Adolph Hitler as a leader, because he did things that leaders do. Certainly, he is at one end of the spectrum, and he's not the kind of leader we would like to exemplify the church.
Mark: Sure, sure, sure.
Andy:But, I think there's a lot of confusion about servant leadership. We talk about it a lot, and unfortunately I don't think we are clear about it very often. For example, we end up talking about servant leadership as a style of leadership. And I don't think servant leadership is a style of leadership at all. I think servant leadership really goes to the heart of the motivation of the leader - why the leader does what he or she does. And it comes if it's servant leadership, it comes out of a heart of concern for two things. One is - the mission of God, in that church or mission organization, whatever it is.
And the other is - God's desire for the growth of the people in that organization. And so, servant leadership really speaks to the core motivation of the leadership, of the leader. Why that leader does, what he or she does. Now, there are a lot of different styles of leadership, and one respect, Jesus used almost all of them.
But, servant leadership was the core of everything that He did. It was not for Himself, but it was for the good, the progress of the mission that God had given Him, and it was for the progress of God's purpose in the lives of the people that He was leading.
Mark: So, you're seeing that as the underwriting motivation?
Mark: It's the lens, if you will, that leadership...
Mark:... is viewed through that entire perspective. And that's why when we talk about the importance of servant leadership, it is because it is what flavors the type of leadership. Is that what I hear you saying?
Andy:Yeah. It's the foundation for the leadership. Why the person exercises leadership. Why he or she does what they do. Again, it's the core motivation.
Mark: It's the core motivation, that's a good way to put it.
Andy: Which can be expressed in a lot of different styles, depending on the particular situation.
Mark: Sure. Dr. Malphurs, you want to add anything to that?
Aubrey:Well, I agree with Andy. I think it's at the core; it's at the very essence of what leadership is all about. I know when you asked that question, what came to my mind was Jesus in Matthew chapter 20, in verse 23 when he called the disciples together. They were having a problem and there was some one-upmanship going on...
Mark: Right, right.
Aubrey:As you all know. Then he begins to explain a little bit about servant leadership. He talks about how the Gentiles, referring to the unbelievers back at that time, and how many of their leaders would lord it over them, and they would exercise authority over them. I don't think the fault here is exercising authority over anyone, but it was the way, style again; their overwhelming style of leadership which was to put other people down. It was totally lacking in humility.
So I think it's interesting when you ask that question, is there a difference between leadership and servant leadership out there, He certainly touches on it there. We're very focused in right here, but he addresses that issue here.
Another thing that catches my attention is when we talk about people outside the body of Christ. There has been a movement out there among those who would not necessarily acknowledge Christ or deny Him, a move towards servant leadership. But I'm not sure they've caught the essence of it as Andy has articulated it for us. They may or may not have.
A fellow named Greenleaf has pushed this. I hear some talk today when I read from other literature than Christian literature about servant leadership. I think they're beginning to catch on, some of them. Even people who don't know Christ can stumble onto truth.
Mark: Sure, sure.
Aubrey:So, there is some of that thinking going on out there that the way we've been doing it, a style where we're dominant over someone is maybe not the best way to do it.
Mark:That's interesting, because in other words it is possible to model that style but to do it with the wrong motives. In other words, you can see that in a lot of the contemporary leadership publications, if you will, that come out that talk about leading with humility.
While we would agree with that in terms of a principle, that is reflective of this type of biblical leadership, servant leadership. But, ultimately for a believer, the issue is the motive of why we're doing what we're doing in how we're leading.
Don't you think that that is a big struggle for the church today, in how to articulate this issue of servant leadership? We're engrained in our culture, obviously, all of us, and here we are, at least in our context in the United States, and there is a push on 'be a leader'. I think of how we're raising our children - 'Be a leader. Step out front'. But it's how you step out front.
Aubrey:Yes and there's this emphasis in 'be a leader' without understanding the price that leaders pay. Again, I'm going back to Matthew chapter 20. Here where James and John, who may have been Jesus' cousins, there's some debate here as to what was going on, are trying to get a jump on the other disciples because they're still expecting an earthly kingdom. So they want to be put at his right hand and his left hand, which were positions of honor, authority, power, prestige all these kinds of things. He says you really don't know what you're asking for. If you did, you wouldn't ask for it. You'd probably be running in the other direction.
So we have this emphasis on this today. When a leader steps up it's like he's hanging a target on his or her back. We just don't understand this. I have never seen a time, of course I haven't been around all that long, where I've not seen leaders more criticized than I have today, especially in the church.
Leaders are really under attack in many cases. It's baffling to me as to why this is the case. This is a difficult time for leaders. It's a time in which I think we need to see leaders step up to the plate. It's difficult to do when you're being shot at or criticized, that type of thing.
Mark:Let's move this question a little bit. We've talked about servant leadership and how that should be the lens, the motive, the core perspective of leadership.
Let's talk about some other qualities of effective leaders. You've seen an awful lot of lists out there -- 'here are the top ten qualities of today's effective leader'. Read lots of articles and books. It's good, to some degree, for us to ask those questions, because you can't help but evaluate your own life. You look at lists, and you start thinking, critiquing and helping others critique. But in what both of you do and you cover these topics quite frequently in churches and in conferences and in seminars, some here at the seminary, some in other places, what are some of the things that you would contribute to that discussion of qualities of an effective leader?
Andy:I think there are a number of qualities we could talk about. But given our definition of servant leadership, that being that it refers to the core motivation of the leader, I would say that one of the key qualities is a secure sense of your personal identity as a leader.
The reason I think that's critical is that, if a person doesn't have a sense of personal identity, secure in his relationship with Christ, in his acceptance by Christ, the temptation to a leader is to use your leadership role to try to establish an identity for yourself.
This is what James and John were trying to do; this is what the disciples were trying to do; this is what leaders do all the time. They use that particular leadership role that they have to try to set them up in a position of power or to gain recognition from others. If you don't have your identity grounded in your relationship with Christ that is a significant temptation to a leader. So I would say a secure sense of personal identity is one of the core traits that you've got to have.
Aubrey: So the problem there is using your identity to define yourself, in other words, your position.
Andy: Yeah, defining by your position.
Aubrey: Right. I'm a leader therefore and then I define myself based on that.
Andy:All right, I'm over a hundred people; I'm more important than they are. What the disciples there were looking for was positions of respect and power. That's what's done in the world.
Mark:Right, right. Then from a biblical perspective, we all know the problem with our anthropology. In regards to where that can lead us, if it is grounded in a perspective of me as opposed to my identity in Christ.
Andy:Exactly. There is kind of a dim line in the sand that we cross over from servant leadership to self-serving leadership very quickly.
Mark: What else? What are some other traits that we see?
Aubrey:The obvious trait would be the character but that is a pretty big area there. I think what Andy has said in terms of personal identity and understanding who you are, etc., and the various pitfalls that surface there that would fit under the character aspect.
Then Scripture goes on to spell out certain character traits that we need to look for in leaders. Example to me would be First Timothy 3:1 and following in Titus 1, since we are talking about pastors, but not always about pastors. You can look at that text and I would think that others need to fit that category too and look at those qualities and aspects as leaders and strive for those things whether they are elders or not. But I think that we have several passages that address the character aspect of a leader and how important that is in leadership today.
Mark: Those would be two. What else would we contribute to that list of our own list here at the table that we are creating?
Andy:If you want to move out of that area, one of the things that you would say is that a leader needs the quality of good, clear communication. You are talking about leading people.
When you are talking about a church, normally leaders don't have a lot of tools. You don't pay anyone salary when you are talking about volunteers, especially if you are leading volunteers. You are not paying their salary. They are there because of a vision that you have created that this is a ministry that has significance that they can be part of it. Basically, you are talking about relationships and communication. A leader has to have the ability to communicate clearly with people.
Mark:To be able to take what it is that you are doing and to articulate that. We have all been in those situations; we have been leading in those situations where you realize that we have failed drastically in terms of communication. Boy, that seems to be an ongoing...
Andy: I'd rather not go there!
Mark: Yeah, you are stepping on my toes there so we need to move quickly! What else? Would we add any other thing?
Aubrey:Yes, another big area for us would be competence along with the character thing. A leader can do what leaders are expected to do in their positions. If they go into a church and they take the position of a pastor, what are the expectations of that church? What are the expectations of this leader? And can he or she deliver?
If we are looking at the pastor, the question is can he deliver? We are talking about such things today as "vision" and "vision casting". Does this pastor cast a vision that reflects the church and where the church needs to go and want to go? Does this pastor have a clear mission for the church? And has that been communicated and arrived at through more of a team leadership type of thing?
There are certain competencies that pastors need. They need to know the Word of God. They need to know Scripture. Do they know the Bible? Are they able to articulate? Back to communication, in this case are they able to communicate the Scriptures. Do they do that well?
Do they lead well if they have a board? Some churches have boards and some do not. Some have deacon boards, elder boards, and others have church councils. I would say in most of the situations the pastor is on them and is he able to lead in that context. So competence is a huge area.
Another one, I don't want to run away from that too quickly, it gets back to what Andy was talking about earlier, is chemistry, in particular, the emotional side. There is a movement out there right now called the EQ movement. While, I do not know that it has been promoted by Christians, again, we have perhaps some people who might not be Christians who have stumbled on God's truth again.
My work with pastors and my work with students here at Dallas Seminary, some of them bring a lot of emotional baggage into the pastoral ministry or here to seminary with them. They are hardly even aware of this. There are emotional issues there that can explode on them later on, and just wipe them out, and take them out of ministry. Their marriages can self-destruct.
So, part of what we are trying to do here at Dallas Seminary and I think the Center for Christian Leadership and certainly the Pastoral Ministries Department, we are attempting to try to get over there and address some of these issues. I have to give much of the credit there to the Center for Christian Leadership because they do this in a big way.
We are a little more focused in the Pastoral Ministries Department on the pastor and they are approaching leadership in terms of campus-wide. They have in their spiritual formation program been addressing some of those areas.
I probably need to let Andy address that, but here's the point. The Bible says a lot about emotions and the emotional side of us. We can start in the Garden, "They were naked and they were not ashamed," it says about Adam and Eve. So what can we imply from that when they discovered that they were naked and why they were shamed? We start off right away with negative emotion there. Then Adam was hiding in the garden fear.
We carry these things with us into ministry and into the leadership wherever we are. I think what the EQ movement has done for us, in a positive way, is it has called that to our attention and said that we really need to start dealing with these issues in our leaders, whether they are lay leaders or those at a professional level.
Andy:I think one of things that you said Aubrey is really critical. Probably most of us aren't aware of those things. I do not know of any pastor that has gone into ministry to destroy his marriage. We do not do that. But there are things in all of us that we are not aware of that really impact us. A lot of them are emotional issues that we haven't dealt with. They come out in some other way that we are not expecting.
So we have that issue going on and we also find it very easy to cloud this because we are really about an important purpose. This is a God thing that we are involved in. God has graciously invited us to be part of what He is doing in the world. So what we are doing is spiritual and it is extremely important. It is very easy for all of that to mask the things that are going on inside us. Yet wee all the sudden get surprised by it.
Announcer: This concludes part one of three. For more information about Dallas Theological Seminary, please visit our website at www.dts.edu.