Why are Leaders so Obsessed with Leadership?

Awhile back, I reblogged a post about the Leaderman vs. the Servant Leader. It’s okay if you don’t remember that post. It’s awesome, but it’s not what I want to write about today.

I’m still struggling through disillusionment with leaders since that thing that happened with big church.

I’m trying to believe that men who lead have good hearts more often than they have bad ones. I’m trying to believe they lead because they want to serve rather than because they want to be served. I’m trying to believe they study leadership because they want to serve God to the best of their ability… rather than because they want God to serve them.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like leaders are obsessed with leadership.

They read books about leadership.

They talk about leadership.

They write books about leadership…

And I don’t get it.

It’s important to be informed and educated, but it’s all getting to be a bit much.

I’ve also been thinking about servants.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a servant who was obsessed with servanthood.

I’ve never met one who has a shelf full of books on how to be a good servant.

I’ve never met one who talked about servanthood.

I’ve never met one who’s writing the book on servanthood.

I wonder if that’s because they’re too busy serving.

That’s what’s going on in my brain right now.

It makes me want to read fewer books.


8 thoughts on “Why are Leaders so Obsessed with Leadership?

  1. Good for you, Katie

    As a youth pastor, I was often caught in what can best be described as the self-help section of Christian non-fiction. I don’t think these leaders begin with bad hearts. I do believe that we have an enemy that would love nothing more than for us to nurture our own insecurities over the spiritual and physical needs of our neighbor.

    The most common insecurity (and the most spiritually insignificant one) is the concern that a follower will follow someone else instead. This is what drives leaders to seek greater leadership principles. It’s also what drives people to those that have “successfully”.managed to gather a lot of people. The insecure leaders wants to know what they’re doing wrong, and what they need to do differently to achieve the same results.

    Of course, all of this presumes that God would even view us as the men or women doing the leading. When we lead in the flesh, we use fleshly principles to maintain our fold. And these principles can hardly be distinguished from a Christian brand of capitalism.

    The servant leader is concerned with personal transformation. The difference is, transformation cannot occur through a book, another leader, or a good mix of ambition and ethics. Transformation is a Spirit-led work of the heart. The servant leader doesn’t need to read about leadership; he or she humbly follows the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

    If believers should read anything, Philippians 2 should be the textbook for leadership. Want to lead? Humble yourself. Sacrifice your esteem. Give up your rights to personal glory. Receive your inheritance from your Father alone. Christ had no obligation to do any of this as Lord, but He set the perfect example for those that would desire to share in His life and cross.

    There is no guarantee that any will follow, or that our lives will be be significant in the eyes of man. But for the sake of advancing the Kingdom, it is good.

  2. I feel your pain. Disillusionment is inevitable, and sometimes healthy, but it shouldn’t become cynicism. I hope there are more leaders busily doing the work, quietly, than are building empires to their own glory.

    • AW: I like your point that people/leaders usually begin with a good heart. It’s rare that a person would set out to do something evil – but we all end up doing evil things periodically… often without even realizing it.

      Wordprocessor: Yeah… it’s a tough line to walk, because I believe that reading is powerful, but too often, I’m a hypocrite. I read and do nothing.

  3. Ms. James…I do not know if I am obsessed with “leadership” but I certainly read many books on the subject, I study the Word and learn from Jesus, the great Leader and Servant, and I certainly want to be known as a good leader who is also a good servant…

  4. Anon: I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m condemning the study of leadership. I love that you wrote about the Word and learning from Jesus. I think the danger appears when we elevate church leaders and read what they write with committment equal to (or greater than) wehave to the bible.

    Also, I’m coming from the perspective of someone learning what it means to entrust myself to another’s leadership, and I’m exmining my rejection of certain leaders because they seemed more impressed with themselves, other mega-church leaders, and authors of time management books than they were with Jesus. I’m trying to know my own heart and whether I’m expecting the wrong things out of my church and overseers.

    AW was right on in referring to the self-help section of Christian non-fiction. That’s what I’m struggling with… not with the man or woman who is humbly seeking to understand Jesus’s words.

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