Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Grace, Authority, & Leadership

What does it mean to be an authoritative leader? Is this a bad thing? What parts of a local church is the pastor "responsible" for? Which form of church government is best? Why is everyone so upset about their pastor being a ceo? Are smaller churches better churches? Are bigger churches better churches? What is the job of an "Assistant Pastor - Youth & Administration"?

As I ponder these questions today, I am reminded of an ol' truth I learned while working in management for Brown. "It's the man who makes the tie, not the tie that makes the man." I am more and more uncomfortable with the idea that "I am the pastor. Do what I say. I am supposed to be in charge!" More and more I think we should be looking to Jesus...IT"S HIS CHURCH! and error on the side of grace, not authority. Any thoughts out there in blog o land?

The tie qoute at UPS is especially powerful because middle management are no longer required to wear ties, yet I think they are still using this quote. Perhaps they should say... "It's the man who makes the tucked in shirt and lack of facial hair below the upper lip, not the tucked in shirt and lack of facial hair below the upper lip, that makes the man." Just doesn't have the same ring does it.


Journeyman said...

There's a third way that seems to be lost in translation.

Leading with authority is not leading authoritarianly.

In the same way that assertiveness is not aggression.

Perhaps we must, as leaders of others also seeking Godness in the world, find ways of leading authoritively in the gray without settling for the black or white (metaphorically speaking - not racially) options of authoritarian or subservience.

I think that its possible to submit to one another's giftings and authority in particular areas and expecting that others submit to ours while maintaining a healthy respect for difference and shared Godness and responsibility.

It requires a new paridigm of partnership and leadership altogether.

This is, I think, a theological issue. It bleeds into the way we teach and interact with the Bible.

Topherspoon said...

Good Stuff Journeyman, thanks for the thoughts. I am always hopeful for the "third way"... The (and / yep) as opposed to the (either / or).

I hear you saying we need to re/think our theology as much as our methods. Like they are connected. Interesting. May we be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

JDF said...

Pastor's are necessarily leaders. Thus the analogy of a "pastor" (latin for Shepherd). Now there are good shepherds and there are bad shepherds. Shepherds feed, lead and protect, and God has gifted such men for this task of oversight of his flock. One of the promises of God is that in the New Covenant he will set Shepherds over his people after his own heart (Jer 23:1-6). Paul tells people to imitate him as he imitates Christ.

I think we absolutely do a disservice to our flock if we do not exercise the authority of oversight that God has given us. And we should be able to say "do what I say" because "this is what God says".

Part of the problem is that Pastor's have not limited themselves to their proper sphere of authority which is wholly declarative and spiritual. Instead they have become money managers (Christian finance gurus), and political advocates (the religious right), and health instructors (no smoking or drinking) and so on and so forth. All things which are not holy, but common and destined to perish, and over which we as Pastors have no authority. We may only bind the conscience of believers with what is expressly set forth in Scripture. Our authority is therefore limited to the duty of word and sacrament ministry. Within these bounds we are required to exercise authority and if we do not we will be held to a stricter judgment. Outside of these bounds we need to make clear that we can only offer advice (and there may well be someone to better advise them).

At the same time we are absolutely not to be authoritarians, which is a real danger in non-denominational congregational churches. The so-called "Moses model" is very dangerous because it lacks the accountability of an eldership where there is plurality and parity. And so because of the sinfulness of man's heart and his love for power, eventually you end up with a dictatorship where the Senior Pastor calls the shots and his "board" if he has one are just yes men. A church may for a time be blessed with a benevolent dictator, but a dictator just the same.

I guess I'll end there.

Topherspoon said...

Did I strike a nerve? Thank you JDF for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Hey topher....hold strong and sounds as if there is a rif that could become something other than a rif.

Have you checked out "AfterHim"? I think your question would get some interesting feedback. Give it a look.

Pastor(bow down and kiss my ring)Paul

Topherspoon said...

No riffs, no riffs at all. Just exploring some of my own thoughts in a same place. Submission has never really been my problem. I see the benfits and protection of authority and the oh so important "spiritual covering". All the same, I will not kiss your ring, not even through glass. If you have a problem with that you can kiss my...never mind.

prodigal pastor notes said...

Chris, Chris, What should I do with you? You use a blog to illicit responses from readers, that is above the rim...

As for your refusal to kiss my ring...well, that disappoints me. I was sure you would at least offer, but in turn, I must decline your offer for me to kiss your

Love Ya,

Pastor Paul

Topherspoon said...

Yeah sorry, I struggle with keeping the middle school mentality from taking over. I hope I didn't ruin a very serious and useful thread of comments.