Sunday, July 29, 2007


In relation to one of my last posts, I need to talk about leadership. Not to sound like a broken record, but too much of what the church accepts as spiritual leadership is really secular leadership principles "baptized" or "Christianized." It seems to me that many in the church are so concerned about keeping up with the culture in an attempt to be "relevant" that they jettison truth (see the post A Little Leaven Brings A Lot of Laughs ). But I point is about Christian leadership. If one would pick up any book on Christian leadership you will find a chapter on Vision or Visioneering or something of that sort. However, you will probably not find the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself. (Seconardy source, from HERE

I think this quote is worth thinking about.

Now, I am not saying that planning is wrong or that thinking about what God would want for your ministry is somehow evil. I am just saying that most of the time when I am reading a Christian leadership book (yes, I still read some of them) many of them sound like that the leader must decide on a vision for the community, and then drive that home with a ferocious tenacity no matter the cost.

I recently was in a doctoral studies program where one of the main professor's mantra was, "It is hero or zero" (just one of the reasons I am no longer part of that doctoral program). He was essentially saying that if the leader cannot fulfill the vision he set for the ministry, he is a failure. This is just superimposing man's idea of success and vision instead of God's idea. This is exactly what Bonhoeffer is saying.

So many today judge success in the church by building, budgets and butts. How big is the building? How large is your budget? How many butts are in the pews on Sunday? This is a business model of success which judges people like profit.

However, God's idea of success is faithfulness (Gen 15:6, Gal 3:6, Jam 2:23, Rom. 4:3, 20-22) and not number of followers who think you are a hero. God always rewards faithfulness. This means we continue to follow His direction even when it looks like the whole thing is "go to smash."

I would rather be a "hero" in God's eyes than in man's eyes anyway.