In some areas of my life God has called me to lead and in other areas he has called me to follow. Whether I am leading or following, the calling is one of service. As Jesus said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” Leaders must serve in their leadership and followers must serve in their following.
God has called me to lead my family and he has called me to be involved in the leadership of my local church. And in all my leading these words from David Powlison present me with a challenge: “You particularly image Christ by looking out for the well-being of those God has placed within your care.”
Powlison’s words challenge me by demanding an answer to this question: In my leadership am I providing an accurate picture of Christ? Or do the ones I lead see an image of Christ that is warped and distorted? Do they see me looking out for their well-being as Christ looked out for the well-being of those he loved? Or do they see selfishness instead?
Do my children look to the way I lead my wife and see a reflection of the love of Christ? Or do they have cause to doubt that he is truly for them, that he loves them with a steadfast and immovable love?
Do the men and women of Grace Fellowship Church see me leading them and learn that Christ labors for them in prayer, that he longs for them to know the Father through the Word? Or do they see a distortion, a picture of Christ who is self-centered and lazy and ambivalent.
This is why these words from Powlison challenge me as a leader. There are many measures I could use in an attempt to gauge the effectiveness of my leadership. I could measure by the way people receive me, by the way they regard me, by the number of people who follow me, by wealth or health or happiness. Each of these measures is too easily manipulated; each is too subjective, too prone to my own agenda.
But when I frame the success of leadership in its relationship to Christ, here is where my heart has little room to run away or hide or manipulate. Here my heart must see Christ as the model and myself as the one striving to be like him. Am I a good and godly leader? I need only look to Christ and see myself in relation to him; that is where I’ll find my answer.