DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Pastor/CEO

Written by: on November 13, 2014

There is no shortage of materials on leadership. An amazon.com search on “leadership” resulted in 24,662 books and a Google search scored 59,800,000 possibilities for the inquisitive leader to explore. Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana’s book Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice is an excellent resource for anyone who is serious about the study of leadership. They are very clear that “This edited volume has one primary purpose—to stimulate serious scholarly research on leadership”[1]. This is not a how-to book on leadership; rather it is an academic look at the theories of leadership. Having read many how-to books on leadership, this was a welcomed approach. I loved the fact that Nohria and Khurana incorporated psychology, sociology, economics, history, and cultural contexts into their discussion of leadership. This is something most books on leadership never address, as if a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership functions in a vacuum.

While Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice is not a manual on how to do leadership, it offers many practical aspects to explore that are directly related to a person’s practical approach to leadership. While it is not possible to in a short space to elaborate on the many specifics offer in this book, there are a couple areas that hit close to home; 1) Cultural Context and 2) Religious Beliefs.

 

Cultural Context

“Leadership is a social relationship with three key components—leaders, followers, and the context in which they interact.”[2] Many books and seminars on leadership talk about leaders and followers, but totally neglect the context. Leadership always functions within a context. To fully understand the context, one must understand the culture. Several years ago I was in the Philippines leading seminars are leadership for local pastors and leaders. Each workshop ended with a time of questions and answers. On one particular occasion, several people started asking questions about confrontation. These ranged from issues of divisiveness, insubordination, blatant sin, and everything in-between. We began to look at biblical models for confrontation, models of interpersonal relationship skills, popular church models, parental models, and even some business models. After a while, I sensed some uneasiness in the group. I asked them if any of these models seems to be of any help. Their answer surprised me. They said, “You don’t understand. Many of the people who we may need to confront are older than us.” What I did not understand was that the real question was not “how do we confront?”, the question was “how do we address these serious issues in our churches without being able to confront and elder?” For them, confronting an elder was a far worse sin. We spent the rest of the day working together to find a solution that addressed the issues while fitting within the cultural context.

 

Religious Beliefs

I have watched the confidence placed in christian leaders continue to decline over the years. Part of this is due to the fact that we have turned the role of pastor into that of CEO. Pastors are called to be shepherds but they increasing find themselves trying to run the whole sheep industry. Instead of leading the flock, they lead meetings, work with finances, plan building projects, manage staff, etc. The fact is, many pastors lose leadership credibility because they try to lead in areas for which they are not called or equipped.

The other reason they lose credibility is because they become self-serving and have no integrity. Nohria and Khurana draw the connection between leadership and a person’s theology. “Beyond promoting greater meaning and particular systems of morality/ethics, religions thus can be seen as vehicles for fostering integrity in the pursuit of those objectives through their conception of an afterlife.”[3] The world needs to see leaders who are more concerned with what God thinks that what people think. They need to see leaders who have a moral compass that guides them in a way that the world may not understand, but will be drawn to.

 

[1] Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana, eds., Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice: An Hbs Centennial Colloquium On Advancing Leadership (Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press, 2010), 1.

[2] Ibid., 306

[3] Ibib., 281

About the Author

mm

Brian Yost

Brian is a husband and father of three. He works with Free Methodist World Missions and is currently serving in Latin America.

12 responses to “Pastor/CEO”

  1. mm Jon Spellman says:

    “This is not a how-to book on leadership; rather it is an academic look at the theories of leadership. Having read many how-to books on leadership, this was a welcomed approach. ”
    -Brian Yost

    Excellent distinction! How-to books will always be limited to the scope of the authors’ personalities, temperaments, styles, strengths, etc. An academic treatment of the topic allows the reader to superimpose his/her own styles onto the research and narrative. I too appreciated that aspect of this book. I found it to be refreshing!

    Thanks Brian,

    J

    • Phillip Struckmeyer says:

      Jon, I quoted the same lines before I read your post. I thought great minds thought a like . . . but ours do too:)!!!

  2. Brian, you hit at something that one of my leadership gurus framed as the need to move “from hero to host” in our leadering practice. That is a very biblical frame! You can find the article here — http://margaretwheatley.com/articles/herotohost.html

  3. mm Nick Martineau says:

    Brian,

    Great story about the Philippines. Context is such an important part of the way we lead. I wonder what blind spots we might have to our own context. Surely they exist and effect our leading in ways we don’t even know.

  4. mm Mary Pandiani says:

    Brian – your cultural context picture reminds me of how valuable it is for a pastor or any leader of an organization to have cultural intelligence. Many times that’s learned the hard way, but if a person is willing receive the feedback, it can be such a powerful tool. I bet after that experience in Philippines, you changed the way you asked questions. To me, that’s a mark of a real leader, being able to adapt and learn through reflection, while acknowledging strengths and weaknesses.

  5. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Brian, “This is not a how-to book on leadership; rather it is an academic look at the theories of leadership. Having read many how-to books on leadership, this was a welcomed approach.” Great observation and that articulates well the surprise I received from this book. It really was a different kind of leadership read. Also, I really appreciate your points on leader, follower, and context and pastor as CEO. It is almost like if pastors do not realize their context they go beyond pastoral leadership and try to operate as the CEO. Having an accurate estimation of context seems key!

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Phil and others, Is the pastor/CEO issue because the pastor doesn’t recognize their context or because the church places that expectation and responsibility in their job description? It seems that more and more is being placed on a pastor’s plate. Too many pastors are desperate for jobs and better pay, so they often take on much more than they should. The church system provides very few career growth paths.

  6. mm Dave Young says:

    Brain,

    Your insights on cultural context and religious beliefs are right on, and in both situations it’s knowing what you don’t know. Sort of. The insight to discern the context and how we perceive the world differently, and how we have different values and one size doesn’t fit all. The religious leader who also needs to know what be doesn’t know. To lead us to being like Jesus. The challenge for religious leaders, like us, isn’t working out of the center of who we are and our calling; it’s the fact that we’ve created as system that says we can do it all. Going against that grain is going to look to some like weakness. I guess we need to embrace that weakness, pretty sure Paul did.

    Thanks for a great post

  7. mm Travis Biglow says:

    Blessings Brian,

    I feel that context is very important. In the context of my denomination they exemplify many of the traits you emphasized. They like to be totally unapproachable and never want to be questioned on anything. I don’t really like confrontation with them because you will get a name as trouble maker or the devil himself. I have issues with how money is utilized and how churches in the denomination are treated. If you are not a bigger church and can keep up with the giving they dont really have much to do with you, and think that is sad for leadership. I hope to be a catalyst for some change in the future.

  8. Dawnel Volzke says:

    Brian,
    Your post is very well written, and my observations of leadership issues have been similar. You mention that, “many pastors lose leadership credibility because they try to lead in areas for which they are not called or equipped.” Not only is this statement very true, but I believe our society and church governance often propagates this by expecting people in higher ranking roles to be the “jack of all trades”.

    You also say, “The world needs to see leaders who are more concerned with what God thinks than what people think. They need to see leaders who have a moral compass that guides them in a way that the world may not understand, but will be drawn to.” I’ve often seen people in leadership positions within a church lead in such a way that pushes the world away. I’ve observed that some people within church leadership positions are not actually leaders, although many claim to be.

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