01 – The leader’s challenge
In this introductory session, we discussed the three issues of Christian leadership.
A. Challenges facing a leader
Technology-related challenges. Technology has been introduced into many facets of businesses, education and personal lives with the intention to reduce menial repetitive workload, increase productivity, hence enrich our lives. On the flipside, however, one may find that technology brings about challenges. To the pastor or a manager of a commercial company, receiving a cellphone SMS or an email means that he’s to respond within the expected timeframe; failing which he is deemed to be not as effective as a leader should. To some others, it may not be the essence of speed threatening him or her. Checking an incoming SMS, spending time responding to it, waiting in anticipation for yet the next SMSes to come in… all these may be done in the midst of some other formal work that has to be done. With the divided attention, technology becomes a distraction – yet another challenge that we have to be wary of.
Knowledge-cum-skills related challenges. As leaders, we are seen or expected to have attained a level of knowledge and skills, possibly above that of the led. You and I will know, however, that technology (yes, technology again… sigh) provides for many to also secure that vast knowledge and skills; simply turning on the computer, logging onto the Internet, and doing a ‘google-check’ of a particular area of interest brings you site-after-site, page-after-page of information. As long as the subordinates look up to the leader as one who should have the vast knowledge and skills, it may become a challenge for the leader to live up to that ‘should-have’ assumption.
‘Meeting-the-standards’-related challenges. We live in an age where few are ignorant to the qualities a leader should have. Failing to rise to the benchmark means a leader may be classed as ineffective. The sad fact here is that we may fail to recognize the form and measure of the qualities that have been used to check a leader.
Time-related challenges. God has given us 24 hours. And we believe that should be enough time for us. Unfortunately, we seem so muddled with so many affairs of life that we don’t seem to have sufficient time! Leaders, especially, find it above them to deal with so many tasks – schoolwork, helping out brothers or sisters at home, church functions and committee projects, etc…not forgetting, the emails, the msn, the sms… think again, however, is it then to do with prioritizing?
B. Leadership – spiritual or secular?
As Christians, do we differentiate secular and spiritual leadership? Yes, there is no doubt that in church, we are to be unified with the knowledge and grace of our Lord God. We bring in the faith and trust that we have in God as we work together in projects. Not so in the secular regime. For instance, not all members of a team of school councilors are likely to be of the same faith as you do. Consider this – you are a Christian and you are a council president, does it mean that you have to be different in the way you lead the team of councilors, compared to the way you lead a church committee or function?
Jesus reminds us that we are to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. We are to have a lighted lamp placed on its stand, so that it gives light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5: 13 – 16). In other words, what we do, how we lead, whether in church or in a secular context, like in a school committee, others are watching us. Does this then tell us – that our approach to leadership, whether in a secular or Christian, should be similar?
Let us lead, with Christian leadership traits, as salt and light of the world, if we want all others to know the Lord in us.
C. Me, a leader?
We would like to close with this question in our mind, “do I think I am a leader?”. Or perhaps, a more thought-provoking question –
“Yes, I play the role of a leader, but am I one?”
Learning from the Word of God
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
2 Chronicles 16:9a
Knowing that Jesus watches over us wherever we are should be an impetus for us to lead in his attitude and with His grace, whether it’s a spiritual-oriented or secular-oriented organization.
13. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5: 13 – 16
As a Christian, and of course as a leader, it is important to be the salt and the light. This is what the Lord tells us. We are to shine before men and let them know God through us.