Being a good leader, and a good follower (Insight by D. A. Carson)
Quote by D. A. Carson (For the Love of God, vol. 1, September 29, emphasis
“Even the finest of our Christian leaders commonly display faults that their closest peers and friends can spot (whether or not the leaders themselves can see them!) This should not surprise us. In this fallen world, it is the way things are, the way things were when the Bible was written.
We should therefore not be disillusioned when leaders prove flawed. We should support them wherever we can, seek to correct the faults where possible, and leave the rest to God-all the while recognizing the terrible potential for failures and faults in our own lives.”
There are lessons for the leader and the follower here. First the leadership lessons:
- Leaders should seek accountability regularly and receive observations from others eagerly to see flaws in his/her own life.
- Leaders should thank those who make those observations for caring for them enough to make them.
- Leaders should put their confidence in Christ because they themselves are flawed and inadequate to lead on their own and need Christ’s work applied to them, even for them to change and grow.
- Leaders should be humble, because they know they are flawed, even if they themselves cannot see it.
Five Lessons for the follower (taken from the end of the paragraph):
- Do not be disillusioned when you see flaws, even big flaws in your leader(s).
Expect that in this fallen world where sin is still present and wields some power.
- Support the leader(s) wherever you can.
This means you affirm your support and express it to your leader(s). Affirm when they do well or are in the Christ-exalting path.
- Seek to correct the faults in your leader where possible.
This means you cannot be passive and frustrated but you and I must speak up! Not only do you need to speak up, you need to lovingly communicate directly to the leader.
This is not the time for gossip or venting frustrations to whomever comes your way. We should humbly state our observations to our leader, for our leader’s consideration. Along with this we should suggest possible solutions to the flaw/problem to show we care and love for them and for God’s glory in their life, even if they end up taking a different solution.
- Leave the rest to God.
Do not get frustrated and impatient where you demand you leader’s immediate turnaround as if he/she is not in need of the grace of God in Christ for the change to occur. Plant the seed, pray for the leader, and wait on God. One should not do this without lovingly communicating the flaw/fault to the leader.
- Recognize the terrible potential for failures and faults in your own life.
Remember that you are also living in the fallen world, have blind spots, and struggle with sin and temptation. This will keep you humble and help you to not to sound (or be) harsh.
My observation is that CFBC (myself included!) fail in number 3. We tend not to communicate directly to the leader (be it pastor, husband, teacher, elder, parent) but remain frustrated when we see the flaw and then either become bitter or indifferent and just accept it for what it is. This is sinful my brothers and sisters.
We need to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So we should humbly and lovingly speak up to those who need to consider what we observe in their lives. May God grow me and all of us in being good followers of Jesus. Failing to do numbers 3 or 4 lead to two opposite errors:
(1) if you fail to communicate directly to the leader and just say “God is sovereign and in control and there’s nothing I can do about it so I’ll just be quiet” (which tends to be my error) then we don’t say anything to the leader and grow in frustration or in being indifferent.
(2) If you fail to trust God and leave the changing to him and only communicate the error/flaw and demand change in your time, you will rebel, leave, and get angry at the error/flaw that needs to be changed as if the world and change has to happen on your time and not God’s. So to be humble and obedient, you need to be patient and communicating. This is a better way to love and follow leaders than to be silent and frustrated or demanding and impatient. And most importantly, this way of following leaders who are flawed shows that we fundamentally follow Jesus as our leader because in this way we seek to honor and glorify him.