On Leadership

One of the things I have been thinking about is leadership in the style of Christ. As I read through Treading Lightly I saw a similarity between Australian Aboriginal styles of leadership with what I believe that the New Testament holds up as the ideal.

In the West we have largely found ourselves gravitating towards a hierarchical mode of leadership, and this is seen both in the extremes of the Catholic Hierarchy right over to the Congregationalism of groups such as Baptists. However I do not believe that this is the ideal that the New Testament has in mind, and from places such as 1 Cor 12, and Eph 4: 4-12 I would assert that the vision of leadership within the New Testament Church should be one of all the members leading out of their strength and area of expertise for the building up of the Church, the proclamation of the Gospel and the Glory of God. Leadership then is not a matter of a particular group or groups holding onto leadership as a form of power over the congregation, but rather it is a relinquishment of leadership once we travel outside of the area of expertise of a certain individual, and a humble taking up of leadership once we enter into the expertise of another.

This vision of leadership is shared by the Nhunggabarra peoples as described in Treading Lightly ((pp111-114)) Their community being made up of people with well defined roles saw this play out. As those in the community hunted, gathered, taught and all the other actions of their information economy. The leaders were generally those who had the most experience or training in the particular activity. The church itself is an information based economy as our society as a whole is transitioning towards.

If the New Testament ideal of shared leadership has been documented as having worked for a community such as the Nhunggaburra then what stops us from heading towards this ideal. I think there are a few reasons, for instance there’s tradition and people not liking change, another would be that those with power often do not like to relinquish it. There are most likely other reasons and the reasons I have given may not even be the primary ones leadership theory in both the church and society at large are not my area of expertise. My focus is on interpretation and application of Scripture for the benefit of the people of God.