Leadership for the 21st Century
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In the 21st century, we find ourselves in a unique situation. The world is interconnected in a way in which it likely has never been before. We have emails, text messages, social media, etc. While we have these conveniences, we also are becoming alienated from what it means to be human. Said another way, our own interconnectedness with each other seems to be replacing the need to have a genuine understanding of one’s own identity as a human.
Because this paradigm seems to be sweeping the world, Church leaders must guard themselves from behaviors detrimental to others. This is especially true in America because Christianity has been so commercialized. What do I mean by this?
Too often leaders can treat people like they are a means to an end rather than individuals with God-given intrinsic value. Ministers who do not consider the needs of others can fall into the trap of seeing people as instruments to reach goals.
This can create what I call the “fill in” attitude. Church leaders can be guilty of just trying to find anyone to “fill in” positions at church without regard to their personal/spiritual needs or even their spiritual maturity. This opens the way for people who are unprepared or who have a lack of character to be assigned roles in Church. This means the people are serving in a capacity they either should not be in or are not ready for. This can lead to abuse, immorality, and/or cause burn out.
As leaders, we must recognize the gifts of others and employ them in a way that brings God the glory. However, we must also connect with people and treat them in a way so that we do not forget that they are human.
Some questions to consider as a Church Leader when you seek to delegate tasks:
- How well do you know the person? Have you taken the time to get to know them?
- What gifts does a person have? Are you asking them to perform a task that they can actually carry out?
- Are they actually ready to use that gift or do they need nurturing?
- If they need nurturing, is there a way that you can gently and lovingly nurture them over time to use that gift?
- Does the individual have the character and spiritual maturity to serve in the position that you are asking them to serve in? (The individual needs to display consistent character over a period of time before they can be trusted with any of God’s work. Keep in mind – some tasks require more spiritual maturity than others.)
- What are the personal needs of that individual? Are they overwhelmed or going through a difficult time? They may not be able to handle the rigors of certain tasks (or any at all). Be aware of this and sensitive to their situation.
We cannot request something from someone that they are not able to produce. Nor can we expect someone to produce something that they do not have the character to properly represent. Moreover, we cannot push tasks on people that they are too overwhelmed to properly carry out.
Verses that can help us with this process: Leviticus 19:11-18 – Do not defraud others; Love your neighbor as yourself; Luke 22:24-30 – leaders are called to serve; Galatians 6:1-5 – Bear one another’s burdens; Romans 12:3 – Let us not think more highly of ourselves than we should; Romans 13:8-10 – Love one another. Phil. 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition and esteem others higher than yourself; I Timothy 3:1-13 – Standards for certain offices in the church and instruction that new believers should not serve in these positions.
There are certainly other verses on this subject, but these are some very important ones to guide us in this process. As we lead in the 21st century, let us not be found guilty of allowing attitudes of this world – such as the tides of commercialism and collectivism – to drown out individuality and the image of God.
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President (www.biblesabbath.org)