We often use the phrase “lack of leadership” to describe poor leadership, but the reality is that we haven’t actually lost our leadership as much as we have lost the proper functions of leadership.
Poor leadership and no leadership are obviously not the same condition. What’s “poor” isn’t the absence of leaders, a very undesirable condition, nor even the absence of leadership, equally discouraging, but the dysfunction of leadership involving both leaders and those assigned to follow their leadership. Leadership doesn’t exist if no one is following.
If leadership is poor, a condition may occur in which both those assigned to lead and assigned to that leadership are improperly or inappropriately discipled or trained to function. To properly lead apostolically, we must train apostolic people. To properly lead prophetically, we must train prophetic people. To properly lead as teachers, we must train teachable people.
Leadership is God’s strategy for man, and He built leadership into life. Parenting and discipling are God’s strategies for developing personal leadership and strengthening the function of leadership functions within family and kingdom. Government’s leadership function involves the protection of culture from chaos so these personal leadership development functions can thrive.
All leadership begins with personal leadership. Personal leadership is the essence of liberty. If I can’t lead myself, I certainly will fail at some point or on many points to lead others or follow leaders assigned to my life. As well, even if I am strong in personal leadership in many areas, a glaring disfunction of personal leadership in one area of my life will discredit all my leadership.
When we speak of the lack of leadership, we might recognize that the disfunction or failure to function of leadership accurately describes the failure of which we speak. Leadership can exist without proper or perfect function. Leadership disfunction can only exist when there are leaders positioned to lead: that is, leadership disfunction occurs where there are leaders, when leaders fail to execute their leadership properly.
Parenting has suffered a crippling blow of disfunction for two or three generations in American culture. I not even discussing the lack of leadership, which is pandemic, children rearing themselves so to speak. I am discussing the disfunction of parents who are rearing their children. You aren’t much a parent when your three-year-old runs your house! Just saying…
Kingdom leadership dysfunction has a much longer history. Like much of the originals of Jesus’ design for kingdom and ekklesia( the called together assemblies, or churches), original leadership design was dealt a crippling blow a couple of centuries or so from the loss of the original apostolic and prophetic foundations. Recovery has been a very long struggle.
I’m speaking in historical overviews now, attempting to point out that we have a plethora of leaders within church-anity, but we lack the proper function of the leadership Jesus gave His Body. It would take a whole book to sort out the mismatch of titles and names, but the truth is that most of what we identify as leadership within the kingdom functions in the wrong definition and spirit even though it may have the same Bible words attached to it.
First, kingdom leadership functions with the King in charge. He does assign strong leaders to represent Him, but He hasn’t “gone on vacation or abdicated His throne” to leadership models adapted and adopted from this world. He is not gonna be King of kings: He is King of kings, here and now!
So, adapting or adopting corporate, governmental, cultural, or institutional models of leadership from this world introduces dysfunction at the foundation of kingdom. When the governments of this world define leadership for the ecclesia, they always get it wrong. We should remain legal will functioning in kingdom come leadership: it can be done.
Then, substituting leadership models from family or government for kingdom leadership creates foundational dysfunction. Family and ecclesia are not the same and do not have parallel leadership functions. When kingdom leaders attempt to function with family leadership models, dysfunction immediately occurs. We should continue to involve family members in leadership but understand the increased tension this puts upon family relationships that must be hammered into kingdom leadership functions. In the same way, all the family leadership dysfunctions are released into the kingdom when family becomes the model for leadership function. Some families are simply unable to do both properly, and the resulting confusion is felt from top to bottom in kingdom relationships.
As well, government models of leadership fall short in kingdom functions. Attempting to describe kingdom functions with political descriptors is a misdirection. When we try to apply terms or definitions from political leadership to kingdom, we define kingdom leadership functions right out of our leadership.
This is obvious to business or workplace leadership applications: we cannot operate the ecclesia as a corporation or business. We can certainly learn best practices from business, but we cannot redefine kingdom in order to apply business leadership functions to kingdom. We can learn something vital and powerful from the parallels between sales and evangelism or marketing and evangelism, between CEO and apostle, etc. However, to make what we experienced in business, work, military, family, government, or other church-annuity settings the model for kingdom results in some measure of leadership dysfunction.
I know people read this and say, “That’s too idealistic.” And I am always amazed that Christians find idealism so undesirable. perfectionism and idealism are problematic only because they are based upon human reasoning and definitions. When we speak of kingdom principles, we are not speaking of idealism or perfectionism. Jesus knows that human leadership is flawed, yet He makes this the keystone of His leadership strategy to establish His kingdom on earth.
I also know that leadership changes should be strategic, methodical, and processed carefully so that we never allow an absence of leadership to be seen as an improvement on poor leadership. Creating vacuums is not our goal! Better an imperfect father than no father, and when no father is required because a father is so dysfunctional that he has disqualified himself through abuse, violence, or abandon, this a matter God Himself takes up. In other words, God gets involved only after His strategy for leadership completely fails. God never substitutes no leadership for poor leadership.
My heart is to point the ecclesia to the opportunity before us to establish kingdom and to reintroduce the fullest function of kingdom leadership. We are recapturing some lost things in this generation. We can and should make room for their implementation. We should also watch carefully for the tendency to destroy foundations by substituting no leadership for poor leadership and leave ourselves without kingdom leadership dynamics. We don’t improve in this way; we go to the opposite extreme and complete the destruction of leadership hell has been working toward. We become partners in rebellious chaos with God’s enemies when we reach for no leadership, justifying our rebellion by our experiences with poor leadership.