Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Character not talent

I often read one of my four McCheyne chapters in a different translation from the NIV. It is usually the Message and to help me I use Peterson's excellent Conversations. It is particularly rich for the Psalms. By the way, if you want one book to help explain the Psalms I would read this.

This morning I read Titus 2 from the Message and share Eugene's thoughts:

"If we let our imaginations be trained by the Pastoral Epistles when we go to work developing leadership in the community of faith, we won't be looking for talented people whom we can use. We'll instead seek nurturing souls who are trustworthy and faithful.

This is miles away from the current practice regarding leadership development, and it just might account for the difficulties we find ourselves in. As community diminishes, the frenzy for leadership accelerates that destroys community by functionalizing people. The more 'effective' our leaders become, the less community we get.

Christian community is developed by the Holy Spirit using men and women who are mature in their relationships, who have acquired the habits of the heart that make it possible to live in faith and faithfulness. What we call the "ability to lead" has almost nothing to do with cultivating community. If we want to develop community in Christ, we need to scrap most of what are told today about leadership. Forget about charisma; go for character. As a general rule selecting leaders for our congregations, go for the little people, the ordinary people, the unimpressive people. They aren't as likely to have been corrupted by the world's functionalism, and they're less apt to be identified by their job descriptions. They're most likely to be mature believers with strong character-not necessarily but more likely.

Look for the 'poor in spirit'. Leaders who excite admiration, who energetically get things done, who become advertisements for the vigor of our congregations are useful to be sure, and we're grateful for them. But when it comes to developing community, we need a few souls in whom love is gently at work, covering a multitude of sins. Learn to recognize this sphere of leadership.

We would do well not to be enamored by the kind of leadership that's so prized by politicians and CEO's, the kind that's conspicuous and "effective". It's almost always a mistake to recruit exceptional people for leadership. Look for ordinary Christians-which is mostly what we have in our churches anyway- and prize them, value them and appoint them as leaders. "

Conversations [Page 1882]

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