Monday, June 15, 2009
I don't like copy-cats. "Get a life," I might think, "and call me when you've got one."
A few years ago I was at a leadership seminar near Denver, Colorado. One of the leaders of the leaders was leading one of the sessions, when he said, "If you're going to lead your people, you've got to model for them. Modeling is so important! They've got to see you doing it before they will do it themselves. They need to copy you, and that's how leaders lead."
Did you follow all that?
Raising my hand during Q&A, I asked, "If what you, the leader, is most concerned about is that people are watching your leadership style, so you'd better do it right so they can copy you, doesn't that make you very self-centered? And doesn't that teach people to copy you, rather than assist them toward transformation, one of the high goals of Christian life? Doesn't that make ministry about copying, rather than about the Holy Spirit's ability to live in us and through us, making of us what He wants? The way I see it, that kind of leadership sets people up to be your groupies, not the people you serve so that they may grow in Christ. It seems to make the whole thing, well, fake; a put-on, rather than who we really are."
If one were to gauge the acceptance of my remarks by the look on the leader's face and the discussion that followed, I failed utterly. Except with one youth leader, who shot me a look of, "Oh Lord! I agree!" Thinking back on it, I'm not certain my line of reasoning was appropriate for the occasion. I might have been wrong to have brought it up. . .maybe. However, I was becoming weary of hearing how ministry is about copying the most successful, 'duplicatable', user-friendly method available, and about modeling and teaching others to do the same. After all, I reasoned, why would you need to know God for that? Further, wouldn't that cheat those around you from knowing Him, too?
Yes, it would. And it does.
Look, I don't mean to say that we shouldn't have mentors and heroes and leaders we admire and such. But if those leaders teach us to copy their style of ministry or their style of leadership, and that's the sum and substance of what we get from them—choose another. Leaders who tell you and show you how to know God and how to let Him do what He wants with you are the ones we must choose. That's what makes life genuine, and not an external put-on or a show-off.
It's all about transformation, not imitation. The former is what God is now doing with you and me. It's what's now most natural and invigorating because it has to do with life—His life, real life for which you were designed.
Anything less is a distraction.