The Christian leader has to juggle numerous balls while innumerable forces seem to pull him in every direction. On top of that, the Bible presents at least 20 biblical models of leadership. Twenty! You mean I have to be twenty things at one time?!Not exactly. Sometimes the situation is simple and demands a single model of leadership. More commonly, depending on the situation, the Christian leader has to combine different elements and proportions of the Bible’s leadership models. And here is where so many go so wrong. It is so easy to become imbalanced. 1. Temperament imbalances us.
Temperaments or characteristics, per se, are not sinful. God has wisely given different leaders different characters for different times and different purposes. However, our temperaments or personalities do tend to imbalance us. Men with confident, forceful personalities are going to be more attracted to the authoritative Captain model; while men with gentler, more compassionate natures are going to be more like the caring nursing Mother (1 Thess. 2:7). Men who enjoy debates, will love the Reformer model; while those who hate controversy will default to the Peacemaker model. Men with speaking skills, will tend to speak more than listen; while men who listen well, will listen more than speak. While we have to work on our weaknesses, we also have to beware lest the strengths God has given us become our weaknesses. 2. Sin imbalances us.
Sin has weakened every faculty, every sense, and every aspect of our gifts and abilities. Take our thinking abilities, which enter into every aspect of leadership. Every thought we have passes through our brain. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, passes through our brain as a thought, using a phenomenally complicated combination of electrical impulses and chemical reactions. Brain surgeon Ludvic Zrinzo said: “The brain is the final frontier. If you look at the number of neurons, synapses and connections, these vastly outnumber the stars in our galaxy, and we won’t understand all the complexities for many generations to come.” Stanford researchers have found that, “A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.”
But like the rest of our bodies, our brain is fallen; the chemistry and electrics are faulty. That means that even if we lived in a perfect world, our perceptions and thoughts about it are going to be imperfect.
That also means that even if we had perfect hearts with perfect desires and motives, these desires and motives are often going to be obstructed, misdirected, frustrated, or weakened by having to pass through our misfiring and imbalanced brains. In other words, whether it is an incoming perception or an outgoing thought or desire, they are going to be “damaged” to one degree or other by passing through our brain.But of course we do not live in a perfect world, and we do not have perfect hearts either. On top of a fallen and faulty brain, we have to contend with our fallen and faulty hearts and environments. What a toxic mix! When we have sin coming at us from within and without, and all being processed by a sin-cursed brain, all these negative forces combine to make it very easy to unbalance and fall off the leadership tightrope. 3. Role models imbalance us.
We are all thankful for the powerful impact of godly men and women in our lives. God has given us pastors, elders, teachers who have modeled godly leadership for us. We cannot help but consciously, or unconsciously, imitate these people. However, strangely, we often tend to imitate their quirks, eccentricities, and idiosyncrasies, rather than their strengths and qualities. And even the best models were best for their time and situation. Their kind of leadership may not be suitable for us, or our time, or our situation. The secret of Christian leadership is having the spiritual wisdom to know the balance of leadership characteristics required for each situation you are dealing with. Knowing your temperament, knowing your sin, and knowing how role models have influenced you will help you to prayerfully seek God’s wisdom to know what kind of leader you should be. Of course, this means, that sometimes the Christian leader is changing his approach multiple times in a day. In the one situation he has to be a courageous captain, in another a far-sighted visionary, in another a team builder, etc. And sometimes when being a team builder he has to act as part-peacemaker, part-administrator, part-judge, etc. Our ability to choose the right model for each situation, or the right models in the right proportions, will make or break our ministries and our congregations. It is that significant. If what’s called for is a listening ear, and all we do is talk; or if we choose peacemaking instead of fighting when facing false doctrine, then we have failed ourselves, our congregations and God Himself. In the light of all this are we not thankful for the promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). God alone is able to balance out all our imbalances and keep us on the tightrope.