Over the past few years, I have been disgruntled. Yes, disgruntled. In every endeavor that I took on, I was disappointed in the leadership I was partnered with or advising. I could not put my finger on it at first. Most of the individuals I worked with were successful. They appeared to be moving forward in their mission. But for some reason, all of them were very slow to make decisions and quite inefficient in operations. It seemed like every decision was made with public opinion as the main deciding factor. There was a whole lot of wasted resources when it came to time, personnel, and money.
And then it hit me. I was so used to decision making in the military with the threat of death constantly hanging over my head. Personnel, time, and equipment were always limited, yet the responsibility to mitigate as much risk to life and limb was constant. Options and outcomes were restricted. You had to do your best with what you had and your best was never good enough. Honest assessments and feedback were not negotiable and nobody gave a crap about your feelings. "Optics" were typically not a factor.
What if Christian leaders approached every decision they made with a life and death mentality? What if every dime that was spent on a program or outreach was allocated with the idea that a life might be saved or lost? What if Christian leaders took on the same sense of responsibility for those in their care that military leaders typically do? I wonder what that decision making process would look like, and I also wonder how many leaders would choose a different path?
The truth is that Christian leaders, across numerous domains, are failing to lead responsibly and more importantly, with integrity. To whom much is given, much is expected. Either that is true or it is not. I have heard from numerous men recently regarding their lack of faith in Christian leadership, specifically regarding authenticity. Many have been reaching out for direction, begging for the opportunity to serve, only to find that they do not fit a specific type of branding that the church is looking for. They seek out opportunities to serve, are told that there are no opportunities or that they do not fit the bill, and then watch as leaders beg for resources on social media a few days later.
You will find that I always go back to the military when I think about leadership. There are a couple of Christian leaders that I respect, but the leaders that stand out in my mind are not in the faith based community. It is unfortunate, but I am sure that this resonates with many other leaders who are able to identify the issues. The church is currently full of weak and disingenuous leaders. It is not a secret.
There are various types of leaders, including bad ones. But certain values apply to all leaders that want to be effective, long term. The first and most important is integrity. We currently live in a culture where integrity has been replaced by "fake it til you make it". There is an idea that as long as you portray yourself as doing the right thing (virtue signalling), you will eventually succeed. I guess it all depends on how you measure success and who holds the measuring stick. True Christian leaders know that God is the one measuring our success. If we are not doing the right thing when no one is looking, He will bring it to light.
The pressure of knowing that decisions you make have life or death consequences is a great motivator. It changes the way you think about every decision and promotes integrity. You have to be honest with yourself because dishonest assessments result in the deaths of those in your care. Decisions regarding the allocation of resources become simpler. Accepting help from volunteers, regardless of their appearance or experience is a matter of saying yes, and then putting in the work to mold that motivated individual.
One of the best lessons I took away from the military revolved around developing those that were willing to do anything to help. I did not need someone to be tactically and technically proficient to turn them into a useful asset. I just needed a willing heart. In the military you work with what you have access to. The options were limited and it was very difficult to fire someone. So you made really tasty lemonade.
Currently, Christian leaders (in the United States) have options. There is no imminent threat of persecution or death. We don't have to meet in underground church homes to worship. We don't have to switch up leadership every few years to ensure that pastors don't get arrested for leading their members. We can take the time to advertise our mission without having to worry about that message putting our brothers and sisters in harm's way. This is the great lie. The lie that perpetuates complacency and divides us.
The truth is that there is only one enemy. That enemy will use every tool in his kit to kill, steal, and destroy every man, woman, and child on the face of this earth. He is a smart enemy, and knows it's better to be covert than overt. He knows that he cannot openly attack Christ's flock. That is why he uses lies......why he is the very definition of a lie. He uses a leaders ego and complacency to exploit vulnerabilities. He inflates how a leader views themself, creating the fallacy that the leader is responsible for saving lives, instead of being the catalyst to the only one who can.
The issue that I have pinpointed is that Christian leaders currently, are making decisions as if they or their organization are responsible for saving people. They believe that the more people they can draw in through a particular branding will somehow result in success. In the short term, during their lifetime, they might see some growth and success. But if the movement they are managing is mostly based on that leaders persona, that movement will die with them. The control they were trying to maintain will ultimately result in wasted time, effort, resources, and yes, lives. They are not saving anyone, just setting them up for failure.
Those that lead with the mentality that lives are at stake will make decisions more quickly, efficiently, and responsibly. They will likely not turn down volunteers that have a willingness to do anything to help. They will seek those individuals out. They pour all of their experience into subordinate leaders with the knowledge that those leaders will have to take over one day, and that day could be tomorrow. They lead with a humble heart, knowing that they are subordinate to the only one that can truly save a soul. They realize that lives are at stake, but they are only a small cog in a much larger machine. They also realize that they are replaceable.
Lead like lives depend on it. They do and one day, you will answer for those that you steered in the wrong direction. You are responsible as a catalyst, pushing people toward the only one that can truly save......and guess what, those that are asking you for the opportunity to serve, might be the very ones He wants you to reach.