Church Leadership and the Reversal of Power
To hold power or not to hold power; that is the question. Mediocre Shakespearean parodies aside, a significant struggle facing countless leaders is whether to strive toward acquiring and exercising power, or to seek to relinquish it. As leaders within our congregations and communities, do we hold onto as much power as possible, or do we instead focus on empowering others?
The common practice of leadership within secular contexts is characterized by assertion and control. Power takes the lead, and pursuing power becomes the unwritten creed. But the way of Jesus finds other paths, and Jesus consistently let go of power. Paul, who articulates the way of Jesus clearly, claims that “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Of course, the power of which Paul speaks is not human power; rather, it is God’s power that only comes to bear when humans cease their own strivings and assertions. Indeed, as Paul writes, “whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
This reversal of power and this path of acknowledging weakness and vulnerability challenges many leadership teams in churches today. Will church leaders be truthful with themselves and with God? Even when signs everywhere suggest that attendance is declining, that fewer guests are showing up for worship, that volunteers for church ministry are harder to find, that people are leaving the congregation and that morale is down, far too many leaders still press on with the worldly model of seeking to figure it all out and to “fix it!” Other times, leaders choose to simply to ignore or avoid the challenge.
Maybe, instead, Christian leaders need to practice embracing weakness and seeking God’s power. Maybe it is time for a revival. What might happen if the next leaders meeting became a prayer meeting?