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A cartoon on Christian leadership by Phil Day.
Cartoon: Phil Day

In whatever you do, be a leader

Greetings for the new year; I trust and pray that you will know God’s leading and blessing in it.

There are some articles on leadership in this month’s Journey. Leadership is one of those constant, big buzzwords. It seems, in the West, everyone is crying out for it, yet those who are in positions of authority across many of the sectors of our life, particularly the public sectors, seem to be struggling profoundly. I’m not sure it’s all their fault; I’ve heard it said that the issue in the West isn’t leadership, but followership! It reminds me of Jesus looking at Jerusalem, saying, “‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” We seem to be living in a fickle time.

I’m intrigued by how to define leadership. It’s a very elusive concept. When I ask people how they’d define it, it’s often in idealistic, heroic and individualistic terms. One definition I found helpful was “taking responsibility for achieving a purpose”. I found that helpful for the Uniting Church because it says leadership happens everywhere in a group or organisation—congregationally, it happens when anything is done with that intentionality.

From the unseen work of keeping the accounts in order, cleaning, ensuring the blue card register is up to date, to the public work of leading worship, teaching, discipling, exercising hospitality and expressing solidarity with others, it’s all leadership when it’s about taking responsibility for achieving the purpose of the church.

In any organisation in which you live, work, or play, you’re exercising leadership when you “do your bit” to help the organisation achieve its purpose, whether that organisation is your family, your church, your work or your community group.

A corollary definition of leadership is “behaviour worth mimicking”. That’s a sobering definition for anyone who takes their communal relationships seriously. “What about my behaviour today will be worth mimicking?” is probably not the question you got out of bed with, yet, for a disciple of Jesus Christ, it’s a question we should be asking in all humility.

So, as you read, in whatever corner of the vineyard of life you find yourself, have a think about the leadership you’re called to exercise. God bless.

Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod

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