Can Christians demonstrate Christlike leadership in a non-Christian context?

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV).

What is Paul saying here? Christians do not work in a Christians only work environment.  Therefore, how do they go on mission while working in a non-Christian environment with non-Christians? Well, people who are not Christians only see Christ through the lives of the Christians that they work with; the experiences that they see in the media and new reports about Christians. So, how are we doing brothers and sisters?  You see non-Christians check out our claims about love, respect, and integrity behind our backs. According to Joshua Moody,  “In secular contexts preaching the gospel effectively means constantly answering the question, “Is this really true?” Mention the Bible and secular people are likely thinking, It’s just a bunch of fairy tales. Talk about prayer and they think Freudian wish fulfillment. Tell them about the comfort of Christian fellowship and they think, Religious crutch for intellectual weaklings. Most have a respect for Jesus but regard him as a guru or interesting person, not the divine Son of God.”[1a]  If this is the case then how do Christians work in a non-Christian environment maintain their integrity and still be on mission for Christ? Is it really possible?

As a Christian leader, this writer’s leadership capabilities have always extended themselves to non-Christian environments as well Christian environments. The writer does not think that it is possible for a Christian leader to work in a non-Christian environment and not bring these skills to the table. Christians bring the Holy Spirit with them where ever they go. As a former public school administrator, praise and worship leader, leader of an online Christian ministry this writer ascertains that the qualities of a Christian leader are the same qualities of any servant leader.

According to Don Howell, “New Covenant servant-leaders learn, by imitating their servant-Lord, to abandon their own agendas and preferences in order to seek the good of their fellow servants.” [1] Due to a lack of understanding of this construct presented by Howell, we are currently seeing a more intense interest in the topic of leadership.[2]  Is it possible that we are experiencing this intense interest in leadership due to a lack of. . . . theology [ during] leadership development? [Or, could it be due to a lack of emphasis within the framework of sermons, mentorship, and leadership development in the body of Christ? The best place for leaders in non-Christian environment to be provided leadership training is within a theological framework.] Both are endorsed in the Scriptures and both are needed for a thriving flock. From this context, leadership can be developed in the Church based upon this integral Biblical leadership to be extended into other areas of leadership theory and development, even within the non-Christian world.[3]  People want to be treated with respect, compassion, and care.  It doesn’t matter if they are a Christian or not.  When a leader blows their “stack” and is unkind to their followers the impact is the same whether it is in a Christian environment or a non-Christian environment.  No one wants to be talked down to, no one wants to be belittled, and no one wants to feel “stupid”. The Bible tells us to, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”(Luke 6:31 NIV).

Justin Irving proffers a model for effective servant leadership practice which is research based. He stated, “The Biblical call to servant-oriented behaviors—a call most dominantly seen in the example and teaching of Jesus—is a call that is not only Biblical, but also is demonstrably effective. As leaders take up the call to walk the servant-oriented pathway of Christ, it is my hope that the model presented and described in this reflection provides practical insights for present and emerging leaders as they seek to implement servant leadership practices in their work with followers, teams, and organizations.”[4]

The writer’s question to her brothers and sisters is this? Are we experiencing a national crisis in leadership, in almost every venue, because of the manner in which leaders are being trained? Or are we experiencing this crisis because Christians are not demonstrating the type of leadership that the Bible calls for? We are supposed to be salt and light to the world, but “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13 NIV).  Could this be the reason why the church is under constant attack? What? Well are the leaders of the church being leadership salt and light?  I am not talking about pastors. I am talking about Christians out in the workforce.  Christians who are shirking their responsibilities. Christians who are  demonstrating a lack of integrity.  Christians who are leaders in the secular world who are stealing their employers time, and money by not keeping the commitment that they originally signed up for.  Many people take an extra 5 minutes during lunch or during their coffee break.  Or folks may say, my boss does not like me so I am not going to put forth maximum effort for this job.  The bottom line is we lead and work as unto Christ.  What do you say friends?

Bibliography

Banks, Robert J., and Bernice M. Ledbetter. Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Crowther, Steven S. “Integral Biblical Leadership.” Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership 3, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 1-128. Accessed March 16, 2015. http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/jbpl/vol3no2/JBPL_Vol3No2.pdf.

Howell, Don N. Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003.

Irving, Justin A. “Leadership Reflection: A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice: A Biblically Consistent and Research-Based Approach to Leadership.” Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership 3, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 118-28. Accessed March 16, 2015. http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/jbpl/vol3no2/JBPL_Vol3No2_Irving_pp118-128.pdf.

Moody, Joshua. “The Gospel in Contexts.” Leadership Journal. January 16, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/winter/gospelcontexts.html.

Notes

[1a] Joshua Moody, “The Gospel in Contexts,” Leadership Journal, January 16, 2012, Section 3, accessed March 16, 2015, http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/winter/gospelcontexts.html.

[1] Don N. Howell, Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2003), 19.

[2] Robert J. Banks and Bernice M. Ledbetter, Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), Location 128, Kindle.

[3] Steven S. Crowther, “Integral Biblical Leadership,” Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership 3, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 60-75, accessed March 16, 2015,

[4] Justin A. Irving, “Leadership Reflection: A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice: A Biblically Consistent and Research-Based Approach to Leadership,” Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership 3, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 127, accessed March 16, 2015, http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/jbpl/vol3no2/JBPL_Vol3No2_Irving_pp118-128.pdf.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bueller
    Apr 25, 2015 @ 09:30:55

    The whole world seems to have given up on some of the leadership we see today. I can only see a few countries who give their all for ALL of their people and not one religious sect or class of people. This countries leadership is in need of a good dose of Jesus-teaching. They all claim to do what is best for their people but it doesn’t show through. There is too much one-upsmanship going on in the world today and especially here in America. There are no collective agreements on anything. It would appear each person has their own agenda and that is what they worry about and not how it helps or hurts the people they serve.

    Reply

  2. Joyce
    Apr 25, 2015 @ 18:28:05

    It happens everywhere because people themselves do not know what their individual purpose is. They rely on politicians and other people for everything when the only being that they should be relying on is God. The only being that should believing for is God. Instead they live for man and their egos. That is the bottomless. When they are up against a wall and they have to stand up for what God stands up for they will flee. It is an age old quest and an age old story. It is not within man to do the hard things trusting that God will give them what it takes to see it through. It is a sad epitaph, but if the church is struggling with this same construct then the politicians will too. It is not service as unto man, but as unto God. That is what the word of God states. Unfortunately it is easier to go with the flow than it is to be accountable and hold people accountable.

    Reply

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