In General Electric, which many regard as the most successful company of this last decade, executives are promoted on the basis of working outside of their departments. If they only work within their departments, they will not be promoted; in some cases they are even fired. The value of the company is called boundary-less-ness, even though they have very well defined divisions (they make products in totally different divisions), they are constantly pushed outside their departments and compartments.
Well, let’s look at what the Bible says about leadership. We all know these passages, but let’s just look at them briefly based on this paradigm which I thinks picks out of a biblical record and highlights this principle so clearly. Christian books on leadership are sometimes not any better than the non-Christian books on leadership. Jesus talks about two kinds of leaders, in Matthew 20:25, listen to what he says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and the great men exercise authority over them”. That is a perfect definition of transactional leadership, isn’t it? “It is not so among you, but whom whoever wishes to become among you shall be your servant and whoever wishes to first among you shall be your slave. Just as the son of man did come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for me”. One of the papers I did at Trinity was a study of servant leadership. I had to read several dozens books and articles on this subject. It was total confusion friends, total confusion.
Everyone agrees with servant leadership, you say that in a Christian meeting and everybody nods their head, but what is it? We don’t know, but I think this model gives us a handle on what Jesus was saying, because our understanding of it has been so fogged by our experience in our cultural teaching. Why was Jesus saying this? Well, just before the passage we read, what was the question that the mother of the sons of Zebedee asked, ‘can these two sons of mine sit one on your right, one on your left? And these were the questions that Jesus was still getting at the end of his time with the disciples. Who will be at your right hand? Who is the greatest among us? These are questions of power, privilege and rank. You can make a very strong case with the gospels that the reason that Jesus stayed three years longer with his disciples, after they knew how to teach, preach, cast out demons and heal the sick was that they had this Roman idea of leadership that had been branded on them by their culture. Jesus stayed with them so that they would have a chance to be free of that kind of leadership, because that is not kingdom leadership.
This kind of organization leader is not a kingdom leader. Transactional leaders are not new. It comes through very clearly in 1 Samuel. You remember when the people ask Samuel for a King, Samuel was unhappy and he went back to God. God said they are not rejecting you, they are rejecting me. This is in 1 Samuel 8. The Lord said tell them what their ruler will do for them. And Samuel tells them, he said your leader will take your sons for his armies and for his blacksmith shops and to tend his fields. He will take your daughters to be his servants, his cooks, and his perfumers. He will take the best of your crops, of your olives trees and vineyards. This is what he will do. And do you know what the people answered? We want a king anyway, because of two reasons and this is why people like transactional organizations. We want a king anyway they said so we will be like the other nations and so he will go out before us in battle - conformity
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