Over the course of my teaching career, I’ve worked for three different principals, and several more assistant principals. Each had their own different style of leadership. There have been those that were micro-managers, needing to have their hands on each and every single thing that happened in the building. There were those that were mostly hands off, and at least half the time, probably had no idea what was going on in the building. There were those that were more like coaches, cheering us on to be our best. There were those who were always on the cutting edge, always reading and researching and relaying to us teachers new and inspiring ways to lead our students. Those leaders have always led by example; demonstrating how they envision our building operating. Trying out new things, knowing that they may fail, knowing that not everyone will accept the new ideas. Yet they still stuck their neck out so they could lead by example.
Some have been very laid back and somewhat reserved, while others have been very extroverted and go-getters. And in each and every case, how they led us teachers trickled down to how teachers led their students. Good leaders can be and usually are instruments for positive change. And they are instruments of positive change, not for themselves, but for the betterment of the entire community.
At the other end of the spectrum are the receivers of the leadership. We teachers had to be willing participants in order to carry out the expectations of our building leaders. At times, most teachers received our building leaders with open arms and respected them most of the time. At other times, they have not. When you have strong leaders and also willing participants, it makes for a great work environment.
In this passage, something similar is being talked about. Paul and other leaders of the young church were moving through the region preaching the Gospel. As leaders of the church, they were commissioned (by God) to spread the Good News to all sorts of people. Those words sometimes fell on listening ears that were willing participants, who wanted to make a change in their lives. Those words also fell on ears that were not willing; who did not believe what they were hearing. They were leading by example. They were simply teaching others the message of Jesus. Not for their own good, or for their own reward, but for the reward of those listening. Some received and were therefore saved, while others did not receive and were not saved. And, unless I’m missing something here, it doesn’t say that Paul and his compadres judged or ostracized those who continued to live their lives however they wanted to. It just says that some believed, while others didn’t
So what type of leader does our current society need? Ones who micro-manage, and try to force the Word of God down peoples’ throat (or ears I supposed)? Or ones who simply lead by example, without judgment of those who do something differently? Our current political situation, dating back for many years now, has included words and actions that divide, and that as a result has trickled down to the rest of the country. Our church (not First Pres in particular, but THE CHURCH) has seen many people over the centuries who have tried to lead by force and judgmental behavior (the Crusades, the Inquisition, Nazi Germany, the KKK), and rather than bring more people to Christ, have driven many people away. But it’s not just extremism that drives people away. In general, from what I have observed over time, Christians who freely and openly judge the actions of others also drive people away. People who are not Christians (thinking agnostics or atheists) see Christians as hypocrites. They see us as people who are agenda pushers while not following our own rules or expectations; in other words, our interpretation of the Word of God.
As I have blogged about many, many times now, I think we’d best spread the Gospel by focusing most of our energy on the two greatest commandments, as spoken by Jesus himself. From Matthew 22:37-40: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Add also the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
It is my belief that if we are going to be leaders of The Church, that it needs to start with these 4 verses. So, what type of leader are you going to be?