26 November 2012

"What are your credentials?"

In my years of leadership I have never had someone on my team ask for my credentials. In other words, they did not want to know what degrees I have earned or what diplomas I have on my wall.
       They wanted to know if I lead well. The only way they figured that out was to observe my actions.
       I am all for learning and for leaders to be life-long learners. Surely there is a place for formal, classroom learning as well as informal and non-formal contexts.
       At the same time, I am not an "expert" and do not list my "many credits and accomplishments," as one leader lists on his website.
       I cringe when people "endorse" me on LinkedIn.
       Why all the fuss? Because I am called first and foremost to serve others, which by definition demands that I NOT call attention to my resume. Honestly, I know Christian leaders who have some sort of "entitlement" mentality because they are the expert in theology, or because they have advanced degrees, or because they write books, or because their church or ministry is large.
       The Apostle Paul spoke directly to the opposite attitude: "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4)
       What does Philippians 2:3-4 actually look like in practice, in the fine details of Christian ministry (local church, sending agency, training group)?
       * It looks like the senior leader who goes out of his way (thousands of miles and several countries out of his way) at his own expense to visit a staff couple who is struggling;
       * It looks like the senior pastor who takes the first pay cut when the church budget needs to shrink;
       * It looks like the senior leader saying, "I don't know" when he or she does not know.
       * It looks like the preacher consistently asking, "how are these people needing to encounter Christ" rather than asking, "what do I have to say about encountering Christ."
       * It looks like the leader who "rolls up his sleeves" with people in his ministry or church to do "grunt work" - setting up chairs, shoveling snow, washing dishes. Show me a leader with an aching back from pushing snow and I will likely show you a servant.
       We who are called to senior leadership positions need to repent. Repent? Really? We are proud and hold onto power through knowledge, position, sometimes manipulating circumstances. We need to repent of this, and we need to ask God to make us into servant leaders.
       And we will find ourselves looking more and more like another Servant - Jesus.

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