My son, who is a high school junior, recently had to write a short paper defining leadership. As a 16-year-old high school student, he felt the pain of trying to express what counts as good, bad, or effective. In who’s opinion? Was Stalin, Hitler, or Idi Amin effective?
How do we define effectiveness? Does it matter if we are speaking about effectiveness in ministry, in non-profit or para-church organizations, or in for-profit businesses? How do we know we have been effective? Is effectiveness evaluated by the bottom line, profit, membership growth, campus expansion, community impact, student graduations, or through teacher retention? Is it meeting goals or increasing employee morale?
When answering the question of effectiveness, we ultimately fall back on some world view. Stalin, Hitler, and Idi Amin each had a world view they operated within. For us as followers of Christ, that world view is informed and defined by Christ as seen through the totality of Scripture.
While addressing effectiveness in leadership we need to address what Scott Rodin calls two-kingdom living. There is the one Kingdom of God, and the second kingdom we try to build up for ourselves. A Christian’s calling is to fall under the Lordship and Kingdom of Christ; however, we are easily seduced and drawn into setting ourselves up as kings. We fall into a trap of ownership, rights, and privileges.
Despite our hope and desire to give Jesus total Lordship, we hold certain things back, and we begin to build our own kingdom, which naturally competes with Jesus’ Kingdom. We fall into the thinking that if we were given more control, more ownership, and more authority in the organization, we could get more done; we would make the organization more successful, and thereby we would be more successful.
What we don’t realize is, we become more effective when we tear down our kingdom and divest ownership so we can obey, trust, and rely on Jesus to do what He wants in His one Kingdom. Without ownership of the second kingdom, leaders are free to joyfully respond in obedience to Jesus. Our effectiveness is dependent on God. One Kingdom living keeps the focus on God, His sovereignty, and His ownership.
In Scott Rodin’s book The Steward Leader, he writes, “When the drive to succeed is rooted in a sense that we own our ministry, own our employees, and own our vision, leadership consumes us … As Christians in leadership positions, we are called to lose the life that promises applause and material reward, that we might be given the true life of a godly steward.”
If we are going to be effective as leaders stewarding God’s resources, we have to battle against the temptation to build our kingdom. Prayer and scripture are the believer’s conduits to staying focused on God’s one Kingdom. Make scripture and prayer a priority in your day, and God will move you to deploy His possessions for His Kingdom.
Is your leadership effectiveness measured by God’s Kingdom, or by your kingdom?
-- Howard Rich
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