Christian leadership isn’t about becoming a household name. Rev Ralph Mayhew looks at the need to develop new leaders in the Uniting Church.
Christian leadership is always about minimising ourselves while seeking to maximise Christ. It stands in contrast to other models of leadership, where leadership is about becoming known in order to change the world.
A Christian leader can only lead a person as much as Christ is leading them. Christian leaders understand they don’t change the world themselves; it is what God does through them that changes the world.
If this is true, for God to do more, and do it through Christian leaders, something has to make way. That something is the leader! The goal of the Christian leader is for selfish ambition to completely die. As this happens, the work and presence of Christ is revealed. Christian leadership is at its best when a leader is most transparent, so that their influence is aligned with God’s.
For a long time we in the Uniting Church have had a tendency to view leadership with suspicion because leadership outside of the kingdom of God doesn’t resonate with how God wants things to be within the kingdom. As a result of our suspicion, missteps, cultural responses and a plethora of other things, we find ourselves in dire need of developing more leaders.
Developing new leaders is perhaps the greatest and most pressing issue we face as a church, if we are to continue to have an effect on Australian society. We need to begin to empower those still in the church before they slip away, as many before them have.
The first step is to develop a kingdom mindset of leadership—an anonymous leadership which is about Christ and his desires for his church rather than what the church or its leaders want.
We then need to identify these leaders and pour time, passion, grace and skill into them. One of the richest commodities we have as a church is our people who have been faithful disciples for many years. What a gift the wisdom gleaned from so many years of walking with Jesus could be to young emerging leaders feeling called into ministry.
For this to happen we need to create environments where the exchange of wisdom can occur. Our churches should be places where emerging leaders can be upskilled and have placed in their hands amazing resources that will both sharpen and equip them, where they can encourage one another and be encouraged that Jesus is still building his church. It is a great honour to have the opportunity to serve God this way.