Honest Leadership – i.e. in the family
For UCB 3 min script
For many years I lead large youth camps both in the north and south of England. I often feel I have spent almost as much time camping as Abraham!
What has camping to do with leadership? Which of course is the subject we are discussing; well on those camp sites, with almost 400 teenagers thrown together in close proximity, there were many human problems. One of the camps regularly had young people who were referred from various departments within Social Services, so you can imagine there were lots of pastoral issues and much time spent just talking, answering questions and dealing with issues.
It may surprise you to know that the group of young people I probably spent the most time with, due to their unruly behaviour, usually after midnight sitting on a hill around a fire (well it was a summer camp) was the church leader’s kids.
My conversations with many leaders’ kids over the years became very repetitive, it went something like this. ‘I know your father and mother, they lead that large church in Anyshire, now why is it that amongst all these young people you are giving me the biggest problems?’ And their response was invariably, ‘Huh,’ they would say with a teenage shrug, ‘you might think you know my Mum and Dad, but you only see them when they are at a church meeting, you don’t live with them. You don’t see you how my Dad treats my Mum, and you don’t see how my Mum speaks to my Dad, you have no idea what they are really like!’ And of course they were right.
Out of the hundreds of disciples who followed Jesus, he chose twelve of them, then he lived with them, this was the basis of his teaching. He didn’t give them a lecture now and then for a couple of hours, he was with them 24/7. It’s a well known saying that you don’t really know someone until you have lived with them. When I was at college sharing a room with 5 other students, one of the guys had a very appropriate rhyme which was, ‘to live with the saints in heaven above I’m sure that will be glory, but to live with the saints down here on earth beneath boy that’s another story.’
When we’re at a church meeting and someone asks, ‘how are you doing?’ it’s so easy for us to put a smile on our face, be very spiritual and say, ‘I’m fine.’ But when you get home, the façade drops and the real you appears. That’s a rather hypocritical lifestyle. At home it’s much harder to be a Christian, a true follower of the way, a leader who maintains consistency in words and actions.
Does that mean it can’t be done? I don’t think that’s true, but we do need, however, to change out thinking, we need to put on the mind of Christ, we need to have a servant attitude in our heart and we certainly need to loose the ‘lording it over you’ approach that so many of us pick up so easily. Its funny isn’t it how quickly we learn to boss people around and take the high ground and I’m not just referring to leaders.
Next time you are at a Christian function, take a look around at the people who have been given some responsibility, they may be sporting a badge, or a walkie-talkie; notice how quickly they begin bossing people around, putting others down and making small rules seem like mountains to climb or an instrument with which to whack others. This bossiness is in us all and we need to be on our guard when it rears its ugly head.
If we desire to be a Jesus-style of leader, we need to be honest with ourselves, we need a heart make-over, and we need to say to Jesus, ‘help me to be a servant-style leader that effects real change in your world.’ We need to consistently seek to maintain that attitude in the most important place, our home.
For UCB 3 min script
Editor: A Brookes