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

The Real Task Of Leadership

Written by: on June 4, 2015

“The crisis is thus an opportunity to rediscover the vocation of the church as an authentic community, a living priesthood, a missional people in a foreign land. We have the opportunity to move from leadership cults, to leadership cultures; instead of lone rangers, we need meaning makers…” [1]

As the pastor of a one-year-old church plant, I often ask myself what my role is as the leader. In fact, I often ask God what He thought He was doing by putting me in this position to begin with. After all, I’m not your typical looking pastor. So what is my role?

This past year has been one of the most challenging of my life, and yet the most exciting. Quite early on I realised that what these people needed I simply couldn’t give. I’m no Wiz, John Maxwell, or Bill Hybels. I don’t have enough charisma, reputation, skills or money that could fool these people into feeling temporarily satisfied. Indeed, what I have come to realise is that the people God has entrusted me to lead need only one thing, or more exact, one Person – the LORD.

And so that is my ambition, to point these people, both inside and outside the church, to God, and to also guide and equip them to find and realise His purpose for their lives. Together we are on a journey, side by side, and that journey is about seeking God and His power, purpose and love. Anything else, even the wonderful blessing of authentic community that Hjarmarson and Wheatley talk about, just doesn’t come close.

I love the story of Moses. He was a mere shepherd when God called him at that burning bush. But that day forever changed the course of the rest of his life. And after he had witnessed God parting the Red Sea, the Ten Plagues, the defeat of Pharaoh and his army, bread from heaven and water from rocks, he still wasn’t satisfied. Imagine that? He had plenty of community, leadership moments, and miracles. And yet he still wanted more. He knew there even more to experience of God, and dared to ask, “Now, show me your glory.” And God obliged.

I appreciate what Hjalmarson and Wheatley explain about empowering others to participate in leadership and community, in finding meaning corporately, and not being scared by living in the balance between chaos and order. I want all that too. But, it’s not enough. I found lacking an emphasis on the importance of following the leadership of God, as individuals and as church communities. There is a lot of uncertainty in my experience as a pastor, but I’m fine with that. After all, God is certain of the future and as long as I’m walking on His path, and enjoying the certainty of His guidance and love, everything will work out fine.

“If our goal is to grow communities and to empower ministry and life, we dare not build a corporate culture or settle for a congregation. We dare not be the savior or the one with all the answers, or the one who is indispensible, replacing the Holy Spirit.” [2] Hjalmarson is right in this regard. We have one Saviour, one God with all the answers. The Holy Spirit is our Guide, the One who give meaning and who fosters community in our uncertain age. But above all, the One who allows us the joy and meaning of knowing Him. Surely the greatest calling of any leader is to point others to Him.

[1] Len Hjalmarson, Leadership In The Chaordic Age, p 1

[2] Hjalmarson, ibid., 5

About the Author

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Liz Linssen

13 responses to “The Real Task Of Leadership”

  1. mm Julie Dodge says:

    This is a great post, Liz. I love that you bring this discussion back to our Source. Indeed, apart from God, we accomplish little of substance. It is not enough to simply feel good together, or to be known by one another. We need to be known by God, and to be engaged in an ever deepening, growing relationship with Him. The rest is … details.

    Thank you for noting the missing element.

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Julie
      Thank you for your kind feedback. Yes, I felt that was missing in the whole leadership conversation. As wonderful as the blessings of community are, which are indeed part of God’s play to bless His people, ultimately we need Him. Only He can satisfy us.

  2. Liz,

    Lovely, heart-felt post.

    Personally, I think you are a great pastor. You don’t want to be a Wiz or a Hybels or anyone else for that matter. Your church is blessed to have you — just the way you are.

    I, too, love the heart of Moses. He eventually became a broken person. Sometimes he did well. Sometimes he blew it. But God never gave up on him and even showed Moses part of His glory. And who else got to do that? Wow!

    It is the humble who will inherit the kingdom of God, not the proud, not the ones who have it all together, not the ones who think they are hot stuff. So just keep being you. I look forward to hearing how the next years unfold for you.

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Thank you Bill. You’re such a great encourager.
      Yes, I often imagine what Moses must have gone through in leading God’s people. Oh my, no wonder he took some persuasion.
      It’s encouraging to know that God uses the weak and broken people. I guess He knows we have to throw ourselves at His feet in order to do His work. And that’s a good place to be, because it’s at that place we get the honour of experiencing Him. Thank you Bill. May God continue to use you as a blessing to His people 🙂

  3. Michael Badriaki says:

    Great post Liz! Love the honesty and realness which you’ve shared and reflected on the reading this week. I was encouraged by the questions you seem to be asking of God and your self.

    I appreciated your statemented, “I’m no Wiz, John Maxwell, or Bill Hybels. I don’t have enough charisma, reputation, skills or money that could fool these people into feeling temporarily satisfied. Indeed, what I have come to realise is that the people God has entrusted me to lead need only one thing, or more exact, one Person – the LORD.”

    Jesus is the leader who we should look to and keep our focus on. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. mm Deve Persad says:

    Liz, thanks for taking us into the heart of leadership issues from a pastoral perspective. Always there are challenges, many of them unseen and unfelt by congregants or even others who share the leadership journey. Yet, through all that, leadership is still required. You say: “There is a lot of uncertainty in my experience as a pastor, but I’m fine with that. After all, God is certain of the future and as long as I’m walking on His path, and enjoying the certainty of His guidance and love, everything will work out fine.” My question comes from the fact that most people are looking for certainty, solutions and answers – how does leadership equip people to be satisfied with the uncertainty of a faithful walk which follows God’s path.

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Hi Deve
      Thank you for your kind feedback. You ask great questions 🙂
      Well, I believe the certainty is located in God and His character: we can be certain of Him, His faithfulness, His love, His grace. We can be certain that whatever uncertainty we’re going through, He will come through for us. It’s up to us to help others find this certainty in Him. Quite the paradox.
      I do agree, leadership is still required. And not everyone is called to lead. And who would desire such a difficult task anyway? It’s certainly not glitz and glamour as any real leader knows, but a path of servitude and brokenness. May God give us the wisdom and strength to lead His people well.

  5. Liz…
    This almost sounds like you have another dissertation in the works after this one, drawing from the insights of reading culture to define Christian leadership within your context. (Like you need more work to do! :). I so appreciate Liz how you are on the alert, seeking to see others drawn to Christ. I have just started reading “The City of God” written by Sara Miles. The essence of the book is what happened when she took Ash Wednesday into the plaza in the Mission District of San Francisco. Early in the reading I am beginning to ponder what it means to see Jesus among those that are emotionally and mentally hurting. Perhaps this is part of the leadership that we can take from our reading this week. Perhaps we are living in a world now where the “name of Christ” might not be mentioned or seen in the same ways as the past, but can we learn to see? I am challenged in your post and by your work. Blessings friend!

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Dear Carol
      Thank you so much for your kind feedback.
      I’m very interested to hear more about what Sara Miles did exactly in taking Ash Wednesday into the mall. When we bring God into people’s everyday spaces, they often don’t know what to do with that as you know.
      You ask, can we learn to see? What a great question – to see as God sees: the brokenness, His power, and then relate that to those around us. Love and blessings to you this weekend 🙂

  6. Ashley says:

    Liz! I beg to differ with you only on one thing – you are a born leader! Maybe I should rephrase that and say you are a born learner, or perhaps born follower of Christ may be more accurate. You are learning as you lead and empower. And God placed you there for the right time. I loved these articles, and I loved your highlighting of authentic community. Where did we lose our way in the ability to create community and friendships? I get berated by my supervisor for not keeping office hours – but I think church does not always happen inside our four walls. We have to be out and about amongst the community, living, breathing and serving with them. From your posts the last year, I know you are doing that, Liz. You are empowering others to serve and lead. You are cultivating ideas and learning and sharing as you go. You are nothing if not authentic. <3 you, Liz!

    • Liz Linssen says:

      My dear Ashley
      You are always such a great encourager! So uplifting 🙂
      I’m not surprised you struggle to keep office hours. I can’t imagine you stuck in an office somewhere when your heart is so much set on ministering to people. As you say, so much of ministry is ‘out there’, and Ashley – you’re doing a marvellous job of that!
      May God continue to use you as a channel of His love and blessings to people all around the world x

  7. Liz, so true about the lack of finding the presence of God in the midst of the chaos. We so much seek out deliverance from the chaos. In my research I’ve come across Transforming Missions by David Bosh. He writes that it is rather normal for Christians to live in a situation of crisis. He talks of the church having always been in a state of crisis and that it’s greatest shortcoming is that it is only occasionally aware of it. The church has always needed apparent failure and suffering in order to become fully alive to its real nature and mission. I believe it is the same for leaders. You definitely are not all that your church needs. And thank God that you are not. I always remember my mentor speaking to me when I was struggling as a pastor he said to me, Mitch always remember that there is a Messiah and you are not him.” This was revolutionary to me. I did not need to be everything for the people in my church I only needed to be the pointer to the Messiah. Let us embrace the chaos and realize that the church always exist in the time between heaven and earth. Here to point the way to the Messiah! Bless you!

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