Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Richard Foster on Leadership

I once heard John Maxwell say that if you weren't a learner, you weren't a leader. I'm not sure what kind of leader I am but I want to be a learner. This desire drives me to be a reader. Every once in a while I read something that just gets inside me and I can't get away from it. Last week I read the following thoughts on leadership by Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline.

"Leadership is an act of submission to God. To be a leader means listening to all kinds of people and situations. Out of that listening, we are hoping to discern the mind of God as best we can. This is the price of leadership—it's an act of sacrifice. So leadership is part and parcel of the work of submission to God.
I could be perfectly happy to go up into those mountains and disappear. But at least up to this point, that has not been my lot. There is a sense of call to take leadership roles. You're serving people and submitting to God as best you can.
We all learn submission because we all have "bosses," whether we're presidents of companies or not. The easiest place to learn it is in family. Paul's words were, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ"—there is subordination, husband and wife, parent and child. We're doing that all of the time, looking to the needs of our spouse or our children, even though we have to make certain kinds of decisions they may not like. It's an act of submission to help.
I think of Pope Gregory the Great. He wanted the cloister. He wanted to pray and study, and yet he was thrust into this administrative job, and he submitted to that. And in that submission, he became a great leader. You could say that the only person who is safe to lead is the person who is free to submit."

That last sentence is what really is working on me. Neither pastors nor lay leaders in a church have any business picking up the mantle of leadership unless we are willing to lay it at the feet of Jesus. If we have to be in control or power then we are probably too dangerous to be given that authority.

What do you think? Am I hearing Foster correctly? And is Foster correct?

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