a burr is a small seed which has stiff bristles or hooks around it. once a burr has grabbed on to something, it does not want to let go. when a burr gets under a horses saddle, it annoys the animal causing it to be testy and angry, as the burr digs into its flesh causing discomfort. this same reaction occurs in me.
last week, there was a pretty disgusting video floating around showing a pastor going wacky on his church family during a sermon. if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here. to me, its just another example of a pastor believing it’s his church and his flock and his position and his his calling and his reputation.
his words and his tone and his assumptions are sickening. i don’t understand why the people just sat there and let him spew. i guess because they believe he is god’s man for them. he’s their shepherd. he’s their leader.
it’s bad. it’s toxic. it’s abusive. it’s totally ridiculous. but i don’t fault the pastor completely. he’s just pushing the envelope on what this position has been allowed to become. what i see today is simply the 21st century version of what happened when the church and rome got in bed together back in the 3rd century. power corrupts.
and following jesus has never been about power.
fast forward to this morning. i just finished reading a short post about leadership. here’s a snippet:
“Pessimists can’t lead when the focus stays on what can’t be done”.
My experience: things don’t get done in many churches because of all the reasons they can’t be done or because of all the reasons things won’t work.
That church, my friend, has a pessimistic leader.
Don’t get me wrong. Don’t be stupid. Don’t do stupid things.
But if all you ever hear from your leader is why things won’t work, or why things can’t happen… maybe you need to start looking for a new leader.
Because this much is true: nothing WILL happen when you have a leader like that.
Pessimists CAN’T lead.
Don’t keep them in charge.
i don’t disagree with the premise. strong, healthy organizations generally have strong, decisive, optimistic leaders. i get it. but i also see something else.
throughout history, the role of pastor-minister-shepherd-reverend-elder-bishop-priest-rector-whatever turned into a power position. power in the church. power in politics. power in the community. the reverend was to be revered. and it’s only gotten worse as history drags on.
and somewhere along the line, during my lifetime, we began substituting the word “leader” for the word “shepherd”. we started to refer to the church as an organization in need of strong leadership. if the church was going to do anything (i.e., grow, expand, build, hire, influence, impact, innovate, etc…), it needed a leader to pave the way.
and we needed to keep hiring and firing until we got it…get it.. right.
and not just any kind of leader. we wanted…no, needed…a strong man. a decisive man. a gifted man. a man with vision and influence and personality and charisma. a man who could motivate and inspire and encourage and persuade. a man people would respect and follow. a man who would lead us to new heights and to be everything we could never be on our own.
wow. i just inspired…me.
don’t get me wrong. i admire great leaders. i’m a big fan of vince lombardi and general patton and a few of our presidents and my first boss at the boy’s club of national city. i guess i just have this continued problem with a man being the singular “leader” of a church.
i don’t see it in the bible. i don’t see it in the heart of jesus. i don’t see it in the history of the first century church.
but i see it…and hear it…loud and clear these days. and unfortunately, we often get more…or less…than what we are asking for.
and i can’t help but think we are somehow missing the point of why jesus died on the cross.