Leadership & Ministry Lessons from a World War One German Officer (Part 2)

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As Eric mentioned in the previous post’s comments, this has a lot to do not only with leadership but also with discipleship. How do you get people from pew to carrying crosses? Here is a quote from Von Schell that offers a solution,

“The men, although well trained and of a high morale, were inexperienced in war and reacted strongly to early impressions. The reason may well be that they had not been psychologically prepared for the severe trials they were called upon to undergo. The conclusion to be drawn from this is obvious: we must teach our men in peace that battles differ greatly from maneuvers and that there will often be critical periods when everything seems to be going wrong. It is exceedingly difficult to teach men what to expect in war, but something along this line may be accomplished if we study military history and teach its lessons to our soldiers…There will be many occasions  however, when officers must set an example in order to inspire their troops in advance or to hold their ground in the face of almost certain death.” (p.38-39)

Does this speak to our current situation in Christianity where people have been taught and trained in a pew setting to make a difference in a non-pew setting but still don’t know how or maybe know how but aren’t doing it? I think it does. First, we can’t allow people to believe faith is about Sunday. Training maneuvers and actual war are two different things but often we only engage people in the first. Second, training people requires adequate leadership to help guide them through their experience in a way that builds and does not tear  them down. Here is our problem. Leadership has done a good job of taking people through “training maneuvers” but hasn’t always done an adequate job getting people where the fighting is actually happening (and it is happening).

Our Leadership Dilemma:
Our inability to produce adequately trained and experienced disciples stems directly from ineffectual leadership. We have a leadership dilemma on our hands. I don’t think it is that we have leaders who want to be bad or are maliciously picking the wrong course. Often, we have leaders who are groomed from a 1950s-1980s world trying to play their role in the 21st century with limited results.

What is more, we have watered down leadership in several ways. We have bought into the myth that visibility always equals leadership. The more visible you are the higher your leadership role. We have been so extreme on this that it has impacted the way we view the roles of women within the congregation. Can they pass communion? Yes, of course they can…as long as they do it seated in a pew and not standing the in aisle. Why? Because passing trays might in some way be a leadership role and we know Paul didn’t permit a women to have authority over a man and passing trays could cross that line. Huh? Can a woman be a greeter? Sure she can as long as she isn’t officially a greeter on the greeting committee or be a greeting deacon. What? Where in the world did we get the idea of visibility always equals leadership?

Second, we have come to believe that leadership is only pastoral. That is only the half of it. Taking care of people’s souls, teaching people, and other forms of pastoring are part of what church leaders do but there is more. We need to do more than keep sheep healthy in the pen. We need to lead people into battle, into kingdom work against the forces of evil in this world. That takes leadership. We need leaders who can do the apostolic (word that means someone who is sent) ministry of the church. We need people who will lead us out of the walls of the church to impact the world for Jesus.

2 Responses

  1. I know this is an aside to the main subject, but what are you saying about women leaders in church? Our village church has a woman vicar. She is brilliant – the best leader our church has had in years. Women have so much to offer in all levels of ministry.

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