In some parts of my life God has called me to lead and in some parts he has called me to follow. In either case the calling is one of service. He 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 a genuine challenge: “You particularly image Christ by looking out for the well-being of those God has placed within your care.”
The words demand an obvious question: Am I providing those whom I serve an accurate image of Christ? Or am I leaving them with an image that is warped and distorted? Do my children look to the way I lead my wife and the way I lead them 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?
This is why these words grab ahold of me—they challenge me as a leader. There are many measures I could use in an attempt to gauge the effectiveness of my leadership. I could seek to 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 agendas.
But in framing the success of leadership in its relationship to Christ—here is where the heart has little room to run or hide. Here the 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 the answer is found.
Interestingly, Powlison assures me that I can also gauge the way I follow by a similar measure. “You particularly serve Christ by standing under those God has placed over you.” But that is a topic for another time.