Every once in a great while a question is posed that hits you right between the eyes. Here is one with which I have been struggling ever since I heard it, “do you consider stories in the Bible that tell about how God shapes leaders to be exceptions or the rule for the way he wants to shape you?” Honestly, if you are like me don’t we tend to think of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, David and Nehemiah as exceptional stories, even extraordinary illustrations of how God works with people he calls to lead?
By labeling them as “exceptional” don’t we render them irrelevant to our much more mundane daily challenges of leadership? I have been convicted that when we do we are making a significant mistake. What if, just what if Scripture intends to lift these examples up as the rule. That is, what if these are to be the actual way that God desires us to lead? Why else would the Holy Spirit have included them in Scripture?
One reason we may write these stories off as exceptional is the cost associated with the alternative choice. When stories of biblical leaders are rendered as exceptional we do not have to struggle with the questions of whether we have the same level of faith, trust, sacrifice or surrender in our own leadership. We can brush off Gideon’s absurd attack on the Midianites with only a few hundred men. We can smile at, but largely ignore Joshua’s defeat of Jericho without shooting an arrow. We can marvel at the great deeds of David while dismissing them because, after all, we are no David. In short, we can render all of these stories impotent in terms of their ability to impact the way we live and lead.
But what if we didn’t?
What if, as steward leaders, we believed that God seeks to help us lead just like these rather amazing but wholly fallen biblical leaders? What if he really does ask us simply to trust him, be faithful and follow his every command, regardless of the cost? What if he wants to do amazing, even miraculous things through us if we will but yield ourselves completely to him? What if he wants our children and our grandchildren to hear stories of our leadership and be just as amazed at what God has done in us and through as they are of Daniel, Deborah and Ezra?
So this is my challenge to you today.
Do you dare open Scripture expecting to find there the normative way in which God seeks to shape you as a leader he has called into service? Will you take on the mantle of a faithful servant of God and search these biblical texts for evidence of not only how God acted extraordinarily in the past, but how he desires and intends to work extraordinarily through you today, right where you are? It may mean abandoning worldly definitions of success and secular standards for measuring leadership effectiveness. That certainly wouldn’t have worked for Caleb or Daniel. It will definitely change our expectations of what we might see God do in our midst, even in the most difficult of circumstances. And isn’t that a good thing?
Exception or rule?
Your answer to that question will have a fundamental impact on your leadership. I believe it will ultimately shape your legacy.
Dr. R.Scott Rodin has been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for twenty-five years. He has served as counsel to over 100 organizations across the country and in Canada and Great Britain including colleges, seminaries, schools, churches, para-church ministries and other not-for-profit organizations. Visit his blog at Kingdom Life Publishing.
Have you registered for the 2014 CLA National Conference April 14 – 16, 2014? Consider registering the Christian Nonprofit Leadership Academy package and go deeper in the 10-hour session with Dr. Rodin, called Leading for Kingdom Outcomes. It will change everything about how you lead.