My friend Shawn recently posted a link to an amazing article by Scott Rodin entitled “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation”. In it, Rodin shares how his views on spiritual leadership shifted dramatically while serving as president of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Those of you familiar with Henri Nouwen’s book In The Name of Jesus will recognize its influence on Rodin’s thinking. (The article actually references and quotes Nouwen several times.) In The Name of Jesus significantly influenced my own leadership philosophy when I read it about a decade ago. But I was challenged afresh by Rodin’s applications and insights.
In the article Rodin describes five areas important to becoming a godly leader:
- The power in being anointed (as opposed to simply being appointed)
- The necessity of decreasing (when everything in the leader is fighting to increase)
- The significance of self-awareness (which leads to personal transformation)
- The importance of the leader acknowledging his inability to accomplish anything apart from the work of the Holy Spirit (outside the leader’s gifts and talents)
- The need to seek the applause of Christ alone (instead of the applause of men)
I highly encourage anyone interested in the topic of spiritual leadership to read the article in its entirety by clicking here.
I’ll leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the article:
“One axiom of leadership I have come to appreciate reads, ‘leaders do not inflict pain, they bear it’. In the same manner, leaders to not absorb praise, they re-direct it. The success of any Christian leader lies significantly in their ability to keep this two-fold movement of leadership in balance. Leaders who inflict pain lose trust and dishearten their people. Leaders who absorb praise produce resentment and sacrifice motivation.”
“By overestimating our own worth, we help our people depend on us for everything. And that dependence feeds into our need to be needed, to be the “idea person” and visionary, and to be in control. We tell ourselves that the more we lead in this way, the more our leadership is valued and our presence desired. Of course, this is not real leadership, but a counterfeit that gives us our increase and expands our kingdom. It also, however, does a terrible disservice to our people, leaving them uninvolved and under-developed. It wastes resources and limits our ministry, all under the guise of strong leadership and the use of our God-given talents.”
“As Christian leaders we must be engaged in a constant process of self-evaluation and repentance…Godly leaders undertake their work with a deep humility and a keen awareness of their own weaknesses and shortcomings. They know themselves well, seek accountability, pray fervently and watch carefully for red flags and warning signals… Becoming a leader of no reputation means not being afraid to stare down your weaknesses and uncover the messy stuff in your private world. It means letting God transform you. And more importantly, it means knowing how much you need that transformation, far more than anyone else in your organization.”
“Throughout history God looked to the least, the weakest, the outcast, the untalented, the sinful and the rejected to give great leadership at historic times. And He hasn’t changed that approach today. If we are honest as leaders, we know that we are not capable of leading as the size and complexity of our call demands. We know that there are others more talented, more prepared, more spiritual and more courageous than are we.”