A local church was recently hit by the recession. They had just built a new building, expanding their ministry on faith, when their budget contracted and they found themselves facing difficult decisions. As a church, their pattern had been to lay off people when times got tight. Instead, the pastor decided to step out on faith. He believed that one of the signs of a healthy church is that it doesn’t burn through staff. So instead of laying off people, he decided that everyone on staff would take a pay reduction, but that no one would be let go. And here it is—he himself would take the biggest cut. When the staff and congregation found out about it, everyone was on board and even more energized by the challenge. The pastor told me that it was the biggest community-builder that he could ever have dreamed, and they came out stronger on the other end.
I am writing this to say that leadership happens, but not on accident and not in a climate of self-protection. Leadership happens when the leaders are willing to die well, to cast their concerns upon their Savior and to risk themselves for a greater goal. Moreover, leaders realize that people are more important than the program for which they have been hired or engaged. If we as Christian leaders want to lead a redemptive mission in the world, then it begins by us caring more about the very people that have been gathered around us than ourselves, or even the grand vision that we desire to see realized. That is, after all, what Christ did.
I might not be that leader yet…but by God’s grace, I will be.