Friday, May 13, 2011

Leaderless Leadership

I am honored to have Jeremy Postal as a guest blogger this week.  His words are both honest and challenging, please take notice of his statements especially if you are in ministry in any way.  You will find a link to his personal website below the blog so you can get to know him better, go check it out.  Thank you Jeremy for your words.

For many among the emerging or self-described reforming church there lays at the back of their mouth a bitter taste called leadership. For some, they have tried to get rid of this bitter taste by sticking their fingers to the back of their mouth, often to the point of seeing their lunch again. Never a good thing! 
The truth is that many cases of leadership have, indeed, left a bitter aftertaste. People are naturally becoming more and more wary and less and less trusting of their leadership; whether at work, in the political arena, at church, or otherwise. Leadership, it seems, has become to the churched, disoriented churched, and even the unchurchable, an idea that does not allow for honest community. It seems that those who no longer trust their leadership, no longer trust their community either. Sad. 
Among some in the disgruntled church, the suggestion of leaderless church and leaderless structural organizations is a compelling idea. To be true, the idea of a leaderless organization is a really sexy idea; here, there is no leader and the community can be gathered around a common cause, right? 
Too bad that it actually doesn’t work; I should know, I tried it – it doesn’t work. 
Often the leaderless organization is set up as a backlash to an existing ‘personality driven’ style of leadership. However, leaderless leadership (yes I recognize the oxymoron) and overzealous personality driven leadership are both at unhealthy ends of the same continuum. The goal is neither a leaderless leadership nor a one man band leadership but rather a type of leadership that meets somewhere in the middle. 
Leaderless organization is a very appealing ideal that tries to pass itself off to the eager consumers as community driven. The problem is that the consumers of this ideal are likely more selfish-driven then community-driven. Let me generalize; proponents of leaderless organization often struggle with submitting to authority. In fact, leaderless organizations actually perpetuate personality driven leadership because someone will eventually emerge as ‘the leader’ and, because there are no other leaders or leadership development, the organization will become focused on that emerged leader. 
Sadly, leaderless churches and organizations quickly become the very thing that they were trying to avoid. Not only that, leaderless churches rejects one of God’s spiritual gifts to the church; leadership. 

This should not be.  
There is a fear that says we must not base our ministry on a specific person; we don’t want personality driven ministries. Leaderless leadership structures do not fix this. Yes, I would much rather a group rally around a cause and not rally around a person…but what proponents of leaderless organizations do not recognize is that there still needs to be someone rallying people to that cause. 
And here is the kicker: there are many so-called leaders among us who – in theory – agree that leaderless organizations do not work. They agree that this type of anti-leadership creates problems too deep and too many to catalogue here. They agree, in principle. The reality is, however, that functionally – in actual practice – there are many among us who have left their churches to lead themselves. They’ve not led, they’ve not stepped up, and they’ve not rallied their people. Truth be told, someone eventually will. 

Why shouldn’t it be you, pastor? 
Pastor Jeremy Postal lives in beautiful British Columbia, is passionate about leadership development, discipleship, and creating missional communities. He is the director of Whistler School, a Bible and discipleship school in Whistler, BC. He can be reached for comment, connection, and a coffee via

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