The biggest issue I see in leadership is hoarding: hoarding responsibility. It comes from a great place, but does not serve the leader, nor does it serve those being led. It burns out leaders, frustrates those being led and rarely mobilizes or develops other leaders. This is a major issue for gospel-centered communities on mission. To lead well, leaders must share well. That means shared leadership. Leadership is not about doing everything, being the superhero who plans every event, meets with every person, or finds every opportunity for mission for the community.
Leading like Christ leads us takes an empowering approach, especially to a community. This kind of leadership reflects the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ requires people to believe that we have flaws and only Christ was truly perfect in every way and sphere of life. A leader who is a follower of Christ does not assume that they can do everything the community or group needs accomplished.
Missional communities desperately need leaders who will lead well, who humbly seek shared leadership and share responsibility for leading the community. The question we need to answer is why do we typically hoard leadership?
We View Shared Leadership as Scriptural Expectation
For many of us, we view this type of leadership as very scriptural. Aren’t we supposed to lead like Christ? Doesn’t this mean we sacrifice most and take on most responsibility, not demanding from others? This is a view of leadership doesn’t think a leader is ever supposed to share responsibility.
The good news for every leader: they are not Jesus Christ. Christ alone could fully embody every perfect gift and bear the burden of us all. The scriptures that follow Christ’s life, death, and resurrection point the need for communal leadership that seeks to empower every Christ follower for the work of ministry.
This is the point of passages in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 that speak to the reality we see everyday. We are all gifted uniquely, which leads us to need one another to accomplish the mission that God has placed in front of us. We cannot do this alone and the community can lead through individuals taking leadership in a variety of ways.
This how the scriptures speak of leadership and how it is demonstrated for us in the stories of the Bible. A community led by a community of people.
We Fear Losing Control
For some of us, if we’re honest, we fear losing control of the outcome. This could be born out of fearing that quality will suffer or that it won’t get done or done perfectly.
The gospel of Jesus Christ can free us from this. Christ’s gospel reminds us that we couldn’t accomplish salvation on our own and we were in need of Jesus to do it right for us. It frees us from thinking so highly of ourselves that we think we need to do everything or it won’t be done well.
Quality tends to suffer most when people hoard leadership. Shared leadership may result in a dip in quality, but part of good leadership is coaching and empowering those you share with to better than you were.
This sounds that a nice ideal, but it may actually be what is preventing us from shared leadership in the first place.