Is Leadership Permanent? by Traver Dougherty

Sevant LeadershipLeadership in an organic church expression looks a little different than what we’re used to; in an organic expression, leadership is truly servant leadership, exemplified in practice.

I recently read a book by Jean Vanier that nicely illustrates this principle. Vanier founded an intentional community of faith whose purpose was to live out the Kingdom by living with and serving those with a handicap. Founded in 1964, l’Arche communities can be found throughout the world.

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION/TOPIC: Is Christian Leadership Permanent?

The Life Cycle of a Leader

Excerpted from Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth
When a community starts, it is the founder who decides everything. But gradually brothers and sisters arrive and bonds are created. Then the founder asks their advice. It is no longer he, or she, who dictates what should be happening; he listens to others. A communal spirit is born. The founder begins to discover the gifts of each of the others. He discovers that others are more able than he is in certain ways, and that they have gifts which he doesn’t. So he entrusts more and more to others, learning to die to himself so that the others can live more fully. He remains the link and the person other community members turn to, a coordinator who confirms the others in their responsibilities and ensures that the spirit and unity of the community is maintained. At moments of crisis, he will still be called on to assert his authority, because the ultimate responsibility rests with him; he must, when discipline is failing, recall the others to their responsibilities. His authority will become less visible, but will still be very present until the day he disappears and another takes his place. Then his task is done. His work will continue; his role has been to disappear.
My Reflections
One of the tasks of any Christian leader is to remember the church is Christ’s bride, not ours. And just as John the Baptist recognized his “friend of the bridegroom” status, so must we – continually.
Too often, the Christian leader finds his identity in leadership, even servant leadership. This shouldn’t be. Instead, the Christian leader must find his identity in Christ alone.
Over the weekend, I attended Church Multiplication AssociatesOrganic Church Movements Conference. I was reminded, once again, of the dangers of status anxiety – that pesky desire in all of us to bow to the idol of prestige (i.e. power).
And prestige, as we know, is fleeting at best and robs God of his glory at worst. Say it with me aloud, would you please: To God be the glory!
Hope this was of some benefit to you.
Blessings,

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table

Originally written February 11, 2008

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