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Musings; liberating leadership; edifying speech

Posted as a response at theekklesiachurch.

Noon, December 25, 2008

On a morning when many are distributing external trinkets, it is a privilege to enjoy quiet time at home and receive many words of internal blessing.  Here are some that  caught my attention as worthy of reflection:

"...all that we have been born and bred to be in modern consensus society."
"We have grown up so long in a false paradigm of leadership that it is hard to visualize the real thing..."
"Humility is the moment of realization that we are 'nothing' without Him and that until we have each other in the true manner prescribed, we do not really have Him."
"When I attempt to fix others, not much happens.  When I manage to fix myself, others are, by automatic operation of the law, lifted."
"I suspect there is not a whole lot to be done but be there for those who choose for life and daily do so ourselves."
"The written word is a path for others to follow so the living Word can be found."

The observation which was new to me and arrested my attention was this:  "Conservatives find one point to disagree on and divide, Liberals find one point to agree on and get after it."  I have no interest in debating the definition of "conservative" or "liberal".  But my immediate sense was that if the observation is true in the political arena, it may be because conservatives react instinctively against centralized control, while liberals may have more interest in it.  If so, conservatives may oppose any politician who disagrees with them on one issue, lest the politician get power and enforce on them that which they oppose.  Liberals may be optimistic regarding centralized control and willing to support someone who promotes even one issue which they would like to see made a matter of public policy.

Such thoughts should remind all of us of the difference between authoritarian leadership and servant leadership, as summarized by Jesus:  "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that.  Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves." Luke 22:25,26

The liberating understanding of leadership begins with the understanding that only Christ is to be followed uncritically.  Other leaders among us are to be followed only to the extent that they help us understand the example and will of Christ, as judged in the conscience of the follower.  As Paul said, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ."

When a leader among us recommends, by word or example, paths A, B, C, and D, it is for each of us to satisfy ourselves that such is the will of Christ.  I may have questions regarding path A, and not follow it.  Another may do the same regarding B.  This should not be a problem for any of us unless the matter seems indisputably clear, in which case we can follow the resolution procedure Jesus recommended in Matthew 18.  But because most of the matters which occupy our attention are not indisputably clear, all leaders and all followers should be content to know that there is not uniformity among us, while there is still unity in our commitment to our one Lord.  The leader is there only to offer what the follower accepts as helpful.  The followers are eager to walk the paths of blessing recommended by the leader.  Everyone understands that the campers are not all on identical trails.  Yet all are experiencing blessings in abundance, and delight in sharing testimonies around the campfire.

Another thread I will follow briefly is this:  "All through the internet are forums where people rail on each other.  Maybe it just needs to be that way..."
With the passing of years I am more deeply impressed that a pervasive difference among people is that between those who report good behavior of others and those who report bad behavior of others.  Similarly, those who are ready to compliment and encourage, and those who criticize and discourage.  Apparently it has been so since Eden.  The scriptures are permeated with references to the scoffers and mockers, those who speak evil of their neighbors.  In contrast, "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

This is one of many contrasts between those who express the old nature of sin and those who express the new life of the Spirit.  Those who live in darkness may have the false sense that the only relief is finding greater darkness in others, thus the endless railing. Only when we are delivered from our desire to compare ourselves with others do we feel free to compliment, encourage, and build them up.  With our Father and His Chosen One, we delight in knowing that the Spirit is edifying many, for the blessing of the body.

May we all bask in that blessing.