Suffocating Leadership

close up photo of a condenser microphone

You don’t have to live too long in life to find yourself under the leadership of a Mr. Micromanager. David said that the one who ruled in the fear of the Lord dawned on others like the morning light. But the leader who does not fear God dawns on other like the influenza, and everyone finds it difficult to breath. Jesus called this Gentile leadership and warned his followers not to lead like them, lording it over those under their care.

God designed a hierarchical world so nearly every one of you find yourself both under leadership and, at the same time, leading others. This leadership can be challenging, even if you’re not a tyrant. It doesn’t take much for your good aspirations to see the true, good, and beautiful formed in those under your leadership turn to into a spirit of legalistic dictatorship in which nobody is ever good enough. An organization characterized by this spirit is like an overheated engine soon to lock up due to lack of oil.

It is striking that when our Lord determined to advance His kingdom on earth, He departed earth bodily. He would not stay with his apostles to be looking over their shoulder constantly, correcting them every time they split an infinitive in their preaching. Rather, He poured out His Spirit upon them, empowering them to live and preach with authority. The whole thing is quite shockingly free, “Don’t even think about what you’re going to say when they drag you before the authorities. The Holy Spirit will speak through you in that hour” (Mark 13:11).

Learn from this to trust the Spirit in the lives of those you lead. My point is not to forbid teaching and correction. Neither is it to abdicate the leadership assignment you’ve been given. But it is to remind you that fearing God, praying, and trusting God to bring the growth are the hallmarks of leaders that fan into flame God’s gift, rather than throw a wet blanket on it.