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Over the last week or so, there has been a challenge to the Prime Minister’s position in the Australian government. Naturally this has caused much unrest and angst among the party and further frustration to the nation. The current Australian Government is a “hung” parliament. Basically the party in power did not have enough votes to be in power outright, so therefore required the support of the smaller parties. This naturally creates a manipulative environment whereby people from different viewpoints have the power to push their agenda and influence the leadership of the country in potentially unproductive directions. If the Prime Minister and other key ministers are not strong in their leadership, they will naturally be caught up in trying to please others in order to hold onto power.
Then we have large corporate and government organisations. These organisations have many functional layers from upper management to the lower production lines where a lot of the rubber hits the road. Too often we seem to witness people in upper management having countless meetings and focusing solely on making a profit for that year no matter the cost. At the end of the day it’s about making yourself look effective or good to the share-holders and your boss. It’s about gaining the upper hand and enforcing influence on others, showing them who’s the boss and making sure no one climbs over you on your way up the corporate ladder.
In just these two examples we witness one of the ugly sides of so-called “effective leadership” – namely, the lust for power.
Good leadership, as I mentioned in an earlier post of mine “A Key to Effective Leadership”, is vital to not only the growth of companies, organisations and the government, but also to the church. Ironically, good leadership occurs not when one puts self-interests first, but the interests of others; to do what one can to invest in and build-up those one leads. People will naturally follow someone that inspires them to be more successful in life, to strive to achieve all we can as a team and as individuals… to enjoy the successes together, and to support each other through struggles. Like so often in life, leaders can be seduced by short-term gain instead of long-term growth. Many leaders are more concerned about highlighting their success for one year instead of constructively building a foundation for many years of success. It takes a courageous leader to take one step backwards in order to take two steps forwards.
Ultimately, good leadership comes down to building up others, not ones self. It is to serve others, to inspire them, to equip them, to show them you care about their success and not just your own. That is what servanthood leadership is about. It sounds contradictory, but a good leader is a servant of others.
The most effective and influential leader in all of history was Jesus Christ. He had a clear focus and stayed true to it. His mission was to redeem humanity before God. It was a mission no one else could achieve. Despite the daily struggle and persecution Jesus faced, the Bible makes it clear that He loved and served others. He poured himself into those around Him. He built them up, inspired them to trust in God and follow Him. People listened to Jesus, not because He forced them to, but because they saw how much He loved them and how He lead his own life. He wanted to see people break free from despair and realise the hope there is in God through the redemptive work that only Jesus could offer. There is nothing more inspirational then realising all of what Jesus sacrificed for us so that we can have peace with God! He was, and is, the ultimate leader!
We all make mistakes, but at the core of effective leadership is humility. We all let people down. But what often highlights a person of sound leadership and integrity is how he or she responds to and learns from those mistakes. Despite a leader’s flaws, people are instinctively drawn to a leader who admits to error and corrects the action that led to it. They see the humanity and flawed nature of even the greatest of leaders, yet also the mercy and power of God at work in their lives.
Let’s pray that more leaders within our governments, corporate organisations and even our churches adopt a servant-heart. May we not cower in fear and be tempted to please others, but look to please God first, to stand for what is right. May we lead by example in our own lives and not be stained with hypocrisy. May we serve those we lead, valuing them as much as ourselves.