Non-controlling Leadership

Leadership of a group is different from fathering leadership, yet the two function in tandem; that is, leadership of a group is a fathering function that sets a backdrop for fathering individuals within the group. Each person within the group may experience leadership uniquely with leadership functions personalized to individual destiny, but this individualization maintains a consistency with the leadership of the whole group.

This produces both a welcome security and a natural tension. Too much individualization may diminish the corporate assignment while too much team-building may come at the expense of individual destiny. Along the way, leaders will tend toward the temptation to be controlling because they are so passionate about fulfilling assignment and/or loving individuals.

I find this security and tension to be an everyday qualifier, and I recognize that there are strategic times when the emphasis is stronger on corporate goals at the expense of individual destinies or conversely stronger on individual destinies at the expense of corporate goals. In theory, these two goals should mesh. In reality, life and leadership function in complex patterns influenced by immense variables.

So, within the corporate assignment, individual destiny will be sacrificed to reach a higher, broader goal while at the same time producing greater fulfillment of individual destiny. Or, I can become the person I was created to be and do what I’ve been called to do by serving the assignment of the ministry to which I am assigned. The path to individual destiny lies along a strategic path of serving others, and the others are predominately other members of the Body (I include evangelism since getting people into the Body is part of serving members of the Body.)

In order to fully benefit from corporate assignment, individual destiny must be committed to corporate assignment. Leaders should facilitate individual destiny fulfillment by fitting or positioning individuals proper within the kingdom assignment of the group they lead. Jesus designed kingdom to function this way. Beware the conclusion that serving others diminishes individual destiny when just the opposite is true!

As this plays out in real life, you will say, “I don’t see how what I’m doing is benefiting my destiny, nor how what I’m doing is benefiting the group I’m part of.” That would be natural since you aren’t leading the group or seeing what the leader sees for your destiny. You are not your own spiritual career manager, and you cannot function in the a vacuum of personal achievement. You aren’t called to achieve, but to lead.

God orchestrates “all” together for good, and He harmonizes individual destinies to produce a complex symphony of corporate assignment. Without the corporate leadership, the symphony would not be possible; the Body would be a collection of solos, and we would define the called together assembly within this limited experience. Having never actually heard an orchestra release the fuller sound only a master could write and conduct, we would limit our definition of the called together assembly to “collected, isolated sparks” that fail to become a brilliant, focused spotlight. (Excuse the mixed metaphor, please!)

On the other hand, the sacrifice of individual destiny to corporate assignment must never become an excuse or justification for controlling leadership. While I can understand the “my way or the highway” sentiment in the context of an orchestra – you can’t have everybody playing “Stardust” while six or seven individualists are playing “The Star Spangled Banner.” We can never have an orchestra without many individuals submitting their best to a corporate assignment in which they are not the one in charge. We cannot produce a symphony with master musicians badgered and beaten into sitting together a big room; master musicians don’t function that way. (Some master musician play one note in the whole symphony on the triangle while others perform world class violin virtuosoes.)

If one member of the orchestra does not wish to participate, it does damage to the whole. Discipline would be in order to move that person’s performance into harmony. The conductor has a responsibility to both the orchestra as a whole and the out-of-harmony individual for the highest performance, but the occasion for this leadership function cannot be, in the Body of Christ, an opportunity for destruction or punishment, to make an example, or to abuse.

We don’t punish. We discipline. We cannot disciple without discipline, and discipline cannot occur without submission. However, Father disciplines true children but never controls them! (Better, perhaps, to say, as they grow older, His discipline should produce right actions with less and less discipline, but He doesn’t produce right behavior by creating robots.) And, we learn from this fundamental function of His leadership that controlling leadership is dysfunctional leadership in His kingdom.

All submission to discipline is voluntary; it is punishment. Caution: I do not mean by that we can ‘take it or leave it’ as we wish! I do mean that in order to be discipled we must submit to discipling leaders assigned to us as we are assigned to them. And, discipling leaders must discipline to bring transformation. Kingdom leadership should produce the fear of the Lord, however, not the fear of man!

Father never forces people to follow and obey, submit to His discipline in order to enjoy His leadership, but He does take His leadership seriously enough to make us willing! Father doesn’t meet intimidation with superior intimidation, even though He would, obviously win this or any other one-up-manship contest!

In other words, Father’s passionate desire for His purposes and individual destinies to be fulfilled fires incidents that reveal how serious He is about getting what He wants. Still, He doesn’t desire robots or puppets, but men and women so in tune with His passionate desire for His purposes they take them as seriously as He does. The motivation of passionate love is infinitely greater than the attempt to control.

Duty is OK if that’s all you got, but devotion is infinitely more powerful than duty.

Leaders must be able to see both the corporate assignment and the individual destiny at the same time. Leaders who cannot see with this vision may tend to be controlling leaders applying the leadership dynamics of this world instead of the spiritual dynamics of the kingdom of heaven. (A whole other discussion is needed here to be thorough that looks into mature vs immature leadership.)

Running the called together assembly like the military is inconsistent with the heart of the Father even though the Body functions in warfare. Running the called together assembly like a corporation is inconsistent with the heart of the Father even though the Body functions to fulfill assignment greater than the sum of its parts. Best practices of heaven are more important to study than best practices of McDonald’s, Disney, Apple, or MGM! Since man wasn’t good at it, Jesus came and showed us how; He is still showing us how, deeply, intimately, personally, corporately involved with His called together assemblies.

I discover myself fighting the temptation to be more controlling when I see adult saints doing stupid! At first, I wanna spank somebody, then makes stronger demands while implementing more severe reinforcements. Even though I am motivated by passionate love for God’s purposes and individual destinies, I must be careful not to knee-jerk. I cannot deal with spiritual issues by fleshly means. Can’t fight stupid with more efficient stupidity.

I suffer pain of watching adults walk away from higher purpose for lower, temporary gratifications. I feel the frustration of people assigned to ministry valuing that assignment as they would dime-store jewelry. As well, I know driving cattle I’ve branded to market isn’t my calling! The patience of the apostolic, in the orchestra metaphor, recognizes that I need to find a key to each individual that will release both individual destiny and the corporate symphony without limiting or destroying either.

That level of genius is only available in the mind of Christ! When we see that kind of orchestration in function, individual servants reaching the fullness of their individual destinies while submitting the sound they produce within a greater, harmonious symphony-

Well, you gotta ask yourself: “How much of that kind of music can we stand?”

To answer some of your more immediate objections, let me first say that God isn’t waiting for perfect leaders before He acts. Each of us will find our human leaders imperfect at the very same time we are submitting to their imperfect leadership because God is working with the imperfections of both the leaders and those assigned to their leadership. Paul tells Timothy: “Don’t allow anyone to despise your youth as a leader; the way to do that, Timothy, is to be a complete example of what a leader should be.” Don’t disqualify your leadership.

Stop moaning and groaning about imperfect people, those that lead or those that follow, since imperfections on the part of both have already been factored into God’s strategy for His Church. Leaders are often controlling, in pride, because their pride tells them they deserve better followers. People are often controlling, in pride…

I don’t control people who want to be controlled because they do not want to accept responsibility for their lives. I don’t allow people to control me because they want to accept my responsibility to lead.

As well, there comes a moment when either the leader or the follower has disqualified themselves because it is impossible to function in kingdom leadership dynamics. (Stop following leaders who refuse to change!) At the same time understand that running around looking for a perfect leader is a behavior pattern based upon pride: “I deserve a perfect leader.” Vagabonding is evil because it denies the strategy of God for your personal destiny.

On the other hand, let me say this, at great risk of sounding like I’m whining: I am shocked at how little value modern American saints put on discipling leadership. Some say it is rare, but most wouldn’t appreciate it if they had it. Perhaps this is the chicken-egg question: do we lack good leadership because leaders are catering to followers demands, or do we lack good followers because leaders are controlling?

It is undeniably true that most, not a small minority, do not desire to be discipled at all but long for leaders who function more like Santa Claus or paid consultants, who want daddy wrapped around their little fingers.

In short, all people need strong discipline because reaching destiny requires radical transformation available in discipling leadership strategies. Most people really don’t want to “pay the price” and want a father who will give them their inheritance before they are prepared to do God’s business with it.

Whew! Do I feel better getting that off my chest! Remember, there are as many controlling followers as there are controlling leaders. Leaders start controlling people because those people are out of control, or are trying to control everything as an overcompensation for being out of control!

You cannot control a control spirit. You cannot respond politically in the kingdom with a better political machine! You cannot overcome fear of man by making other men fear you!

Bottom line: Father is not a controlling leader. We cannot function consistent to kingdom strategies for leadership by being controlling either. Controlling leaders are not discipling leaders. If leaders in your life produce fear of man as a means of controlling you, you or your leaders or both are dysfunctional. The house will be filled with gossip, criticism, and destructive relationships; not a few but a bunch.

Controlling leaders are often great at political games. Recognize the difference between a corporate culture and a corporate political machine. Culture is group behavior and all groups have that in healthy measure. The political spirit is the animal of this world’s spirit; it begs you to become more adept at politics in order to achieve, to step on others, to market and sell yourself, and to compete for things you can only get because they are given as part of your calling. If you need to ask for it, you don’t deserve it, and you are asking the wrong person to give it to you.

Don’t sugar-coat your own rebellion. Avoiding abuse isn’t rebellion! The stance of the overcomer isn’t survivalist. David running from Saul’s control, fear of man, political spirit wasn’t rebellion or survival! David came out of the wilderness rich, with his own mighty men, to take his place as king of God’s kingdom in God’s time, in God’s way.

In politics, everyone is a threat, an enemy, or useful in some way. In fear of man, the very people God has given you to prosper must be whittled down to size. In rebellion, you justify doing what you want by labeling what you did as “success” and demanding everyone else celebrate you new definition of obedience.

Without fear of man, rebellion, and the political spirit, we have a foundation for fathering, a freedom to trust, a heart to serve, and a mind to submit to one another, to leadership strategy, and to Christ, our Head.

Posted in

Dr. Don

Scroll to Top