What makes a leader effective? Is fear healthy? Is it all a matter of respect?
Monday morning train. The pungent aura of cigarette smoke, a jam packed carriage and a woman who insists on taking up 3 seats with her bag and feet… no wait, someone just insisted on breaking her little sphere of privacy. Today i decided i would start with a question and attempt to answer it. Being as ill informed about leadership as the next guy, I don’t claim to know everything and I’m only drawing from experience from service rather than leadership. I am under the impression that it’s easier to gauge good leadership when you are serving, rather than when you are under pressure and leading. When you don’t have the pressure on you, you have a clear mind to observe the decisions made by those above you. You don’t always however have ready access to the overall picture like you do when you are the head of something, but i think the fruits of good leadership are obvious for the most part despite knowing everything going on behind the scene.
And this is what i want to observe. The fruit.
Jesus teaches us (Matthew 7:17) that in order to tell if a tree is good, you must look at it’s fruit. He emphasises the point many times in this chapter. Good trees bear good fruit. Bad trees bear bad fruit. Think of anyone you admire as a good leader. Why are they good? because if you think about it long enough, you realise that good flows out of them. People around and under them flourish. Lives are transformed by them. They are filled with vision and purpose. They are above reproach and full of integrity. Does this type of person sound familiar? It should, because the best leaders are those who imitate Christ, And Christ is all of these things perfectly.
What about fear? should leaders command with it? The answer may seem black and white, but i want to stir your thinking for a moment. Are we to fear God? Yes (type the words “fear God” into biblegateway.com). Obviously we are meant to fear God. We are not to fear man and because we fear God alone, we will do what he commands. So does that mean that we shouldn’t fear our leaders? also yes. 1 john 4:18 says that perfect love casts out all fear, as fear has to do with punishment. But can fear be a good thing? I think it can. Imagine if Jesus himself appeared to you and commanded that you talk to a particular person about his love for you. Would that no strike fear in you? but are you fearful of his punishment if you disobeyed? or just fearful of the wonderful privilege you have been bestowed. If we have fear, it is because our respect for Jesus is so great that disobedience is not an option.
Jesus commands that we be obedient to our leaders, even government officials unless it contradicts God’s will for our lives. I can assure you that unless you live under oppressive leadership in a nation of complete Godlessness, you would probably not find yourself having conflicting convictions when asked to obey traffic signs or conduct business fairly. The fear of God is directly transferrable to obeying our earthly leaders. if we are called to respect those in authority over us, then we must serve them as if serving the Lord. We fear our god, therefore we do what is asked accordingly. but this is a good fear. Remember, judge a tree by it’s fruit. Great encouragement accompanies this type of fear.
But fear can also be abused. If a leader does not have the respect of their followers, the temptation can be to use fear to drive people. It’s a shortcut though. with no character, a leader who drives with fear produces bad fruit. The quality of work suffers. The quality of follower suffer. people don’t flourish, they perish. This is obviously a bad tree. and bad trees need to be cut down. But don’t worry about doing the Gardening yourself. God is the great green thumb and he’ll grab his gloves and snippers and chainsaw down the things that aren’t doing well. Remember how Jesus cursed the fig tree? It eventually died and couldn’t produce fruit good or bad anymore. It’s not our place to uproot bad leaders because God is the one who promotes or demotes. We are called to obey those in authority over us until the due time when God will reveal what is true about such a person.
If you are in leadership, look at the fruit in your life. If there is no fruit, look at the soul in your life. if there is no good soil, uproot yourself and make sure you’re surrounded by accountability, the word of God and someone who’s vision you can attach yourself to. Be a servant and be confident. Fear those above you because you fear God.
Happy monday people. 🙂