Kingdom Leaders: Work-place and Worship-place

The long history of worship-place leaders and workplace leaders functioning from polar opposites moved toward restoration during the past three decades. The long-standing struggle changed, wrestling moves and holds were broken as new ones were set in place, so the struggle changed significantly but continued at arm’s length. The tension has no expiration date because the fundamentals of church-anity continue to assert too little kingdom understanding for the Ecclesia, leaving the separation of sacred and secular as a nurturing philosophical formula for the false premises of workplace leadership principles.

On one hand, the polar opposites began to move closer together because they both embraced some humanistic concepts, so they could dialogue more. Church leaders began to incorporate the CEO concept into their own job descriptions as if church was properly defined as a corporation, by government bureaucratic guidelines! (I know that sounds unbelievably foreign to Scripture – because it is – but it has happened.) That is, some of the middle ground that provided communication and dialogue came because both identities embraced secular thinking. In reality, the key to understanding kingdom leadership in the workplace cannot be found in the secular since there is no sacred-secular in kingdom. There is only kingdom. Seeking some middle ground in “secular” by embracing humanistic philosophy certainly provides no expansion of kingdom in the workplace environment!

Believers who are leaders in workplace settings had more easily embraced these concepts; left out of kingdom principles, they assumed that the principles of leadership for workplace differed so significantly from those in church-anity, that they separated even further the leadership dynamics of the two.

At the same time, church leaders tended to assume their “callings” made them significantly more valuable to the kingdom, as if the workplace leaders were not part of a “higher calling.” One is left to wonder how this terrible error, introduced centuries ago as a basis for professional clergy, separating priests from people, making a few qualified to minister and serve the Lord’s Table while denigrating all others to subservient “secular” callings, survives today in places where all other Roman thinking is dismissed with disgust. Could it be that embracing this false premise conveniently excused elitism in the professional clergy?

So, the viewpoint of “higher calling” allowed church leaders to  placed value upon workplace leaders as people who could make money, give money, be ushers, and make the business side of the church function more easily by their contact with bankers, insurance agents, and other business experts. In this way, they could “do their part” to support real ministry being done by church leaders. Perhaps this was a false read of “placing at the feet of the apostle’s” and “we are too busy with prayer and preaching to wait tables.”

“Worker bees,” these leaders are called. “They can do the menial stuff I don’t have time to do because I’m so anointed and spiritual,” pastors say in private, quoting the Acts account of apostles turning over the management of the feeding program to six non-apostles as a backdrop for their “biblical model.” They conveniently ignore the part where these six men were anointed, healed the sick, preached the Gospel with great grace, revealed wisdom that confounded the theologians arguing against the move of God, and faced martyrdom for their ministry. The term “deacon” does not appear in this passage, by the way, and the concept of workplace leaders being gifted to make sure the building and yard work are up-to-date so the pastor can visit the shut-ins needs to be repacked in the storage room.

The other side of the equation, in reaction or response, assumes that church leaders don’t work very hard, play golf several times a week as if they are President of the US, and speak for less than an hour a week (people I minister to would welcome such a short message!), facing the great challenges of praying for some people who are sick or listening to trivial issues of lesser constituents who “need them.” (Thinking: “I don’t need them to speak to me since they wouldn’t understand my world anyway.”)

Both pat the other on the head proverbially. The movement toward one another has had little to do with kingdom principles because the polar opposites assume the other end of the spectrum has little to say to their end. Pride is the most common barrier. “Success” being measured in different ways, and each convinced they are “successful” for very different reasons. Workplace leaders may have influence that touches tens of thousands but find themselves hiding under the balcony as spectators of “real ministry” when it comes to church. Both are wrong about kingdom leadership dynamics because they are both misreading the fundamentals of the kingdom, mistaking church-anity for kingdom in a way that separates church leadership from kingdom leadership.

In reality, both church-anity and workplace leadership has ignored most of the kingdom principles of leadership because a spirit of leadership, necessary to function in kingdom, isn’t commonly present in either. Consider this thought, having removed kingdom from church, the leadership dynamics of church are no more kingdom leadership dynamics than those workplace leaders use in their positions of influence. Moving both leadership groups toward kingdom leadership would go a long way towards unifying their leadership.

Kingdom Leadership Principles

There are other leaders in the kingdom than formally recognized church leaders. There are no kingdom principles of leadership that fit only pastors but do not fit other kingdom leaders. There are leaders in the workplace called, gifted, prepared and positioned by Providence equal to and in tandem with those who primary function is church-oriented.

Begin with this premise, the modern definition of “pastor” has very little to do with the Bible, the ministry of Jesus, and the kingdom leadership functions of Jesus and His apostles. Remember that most of modern christianism separates the kingdom from church and makes kingdom a completely futuristic consideration as if the King isn’t involved in His ekklesia today at all. Add to that the redefinition of the main church as “pastor,” one of the five leadership dynamics Jesus bestowed upon the Body, and the redefinition of that title to fit the church mechanics and organizational polity of modern christianism. Remember, you cannot find any model for church leadership in Scripture that matches the job description of the modern church leader.

In other words, to understand the failure of church to influence or impact the culture, you need only examine the dysfunction of its leadership. You can measure it more by sa comparison and contrast of the leadership of King Saul with the leadership of King David.

In the end, you see that workplace leaders will say, “If I were the leader of the church, I would change things so much their heads would spin.” And, heads would spin! Working with church dynamics by the corporate world culture would be devastating to most churches. You also see pastors living under the pressure of false expectations, demands put upon them by the misconception that church is defined as “the accumulation of believers.” The measurements of success for pastors are as whimsical as a fairy tale, people measuring church by coolness of the nursery or the design of the women’s restrooms, demanding a strong mixture of what they see on TV and bluetooth into their headphones, longing for a place where Disney designs what their youth and children experience.

What I’m saying is that “kingdom leadership” isn’t the pursuit of either workplace or churchplace leaders. Churcn-anity is a subculture more than a kingdom culture.

Discussion points like “the church should be run like a business” and “how can a bank executive help our nursery run better?” ignore the true kingdom purposes that every kingdom leader should be prepared and positioned to function in. Escaping the idea that Joseph of Arimethea represents a good workplace leader, that Barnabas reached apostolic leadership by selling off his assets heroically, or “the only way a workplace leader can be a kingdom leader is leave the workplace,”escapes us.

One reason lies in our poor definition, even false definition, of “church.” The goal of God’s kingdom is to bring kingdom culture into every culture to disciple cultures. There is not mandate in the Bible for the accumulation of believers. Certainly, there is no mandate for accumulating believers into a subculture. The “come out from among them” phrase isn’t about isolationism or subculture but about counterculture. The shining light isn’t about getting people accumulated into a weekly event. Anyone who has worked in “church” knows this is the focus of church, however; the show on Sunday is the centerpiece of the whole enterprise.

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Dr. Don

Dr. Don

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