by Becky Ahlberg
Did you know you can earn a doctorate in leadership? It has become the subject in circles from the church to education, business, government, and even sports. A quick look on Amazon.com shows 62,467 books with “leadership” in the title! There is certainly no shortage of advice, guidelines, theories, and dissertations about leadership. Is it a personality trait, an innate quality, a learned skill, a mentoring process, a strategy, a spiritual gift, or a calling?
Could it be that we’ve missed one of the most obvious qualifications? It’s stated in the first line of our passage today: “Here is a trustworthy statement: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” Ah, it’s a heart thing. Far too many times leadership discussions are about power, authority, skills, strategies, and long range plans. Perhaps we should step back from so much concern for the “how” of leadership and spend more time on the “why.”
An Affair of the Heart
U.S. Army Major General John H. Stanford was asked how he would go about developing leaders. He replied, “The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: staying in love with leading, with the people whom they lead, with what their organizations produce . . . . Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.”
Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when he said: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27, 28). We use the term “servant-leader,” but often continue to frame its meaning in tasks and strategies. How often do we talk about the importance of a leader aspiring to “give his life” for those whom he would serve?
Leadership certainly requires competence and integrity, but I pray we look for leaders who are in love with Jesus and his people first!
Becky Ahlberg is the Worship minister at Anaheim First Christian Church in Anaheim, California. She and her husband live in Fullerton, California with their children.