Distinctives Part 4: Community
The People of the Leader
While secular leaders might concern themselves only with profits and material productivity, biblical leadership is seen in terms of impact upon and relationship to people. The idea of community applies in two ways.
First, the outcome of biblical leadership is always about transforming the lives of human beings. Always. In the Scripture, every time God called a leader to a leadership task, God’s purpose was to redeem and restore his people through the instrument of the leader. Therefore, biblical leadership does not ever exist in a vacuum. A biblical leader is an individual called of God to interact with and impact people. Biblical leadership is not primarily about developing a ministry program, sitting behind a computer, or constructing a building. It is not about profits, widgets, or organization size. Those may be a means toward a people-transforming end, but they are never the end in themselves—and if we are not careful, leaders can easily lose our way as to the real goal of leadership. People are of immense value to God, more important than anything numeric or material, and our leadership should have the development and transformation of people as its object.
Second, biblical leadership takes place in the context of Christian community. Jesus didn’t simply tell the disciples to show up at the temple once a week, and there he would lecture them on principles of leadership. Jesus did life with those he led. He chose to impart himself, not just his teaching. It was out of the context of that community between him and his disciples, with failures and victories alike, that they grew to achieve something of great value together.
Consequently, biblical leaders seek to develop open, authentic relationships with those they lead. Biblical leaders love the people they lead—they don’t just use them. In the closest of relationships that a leader can possess with his or her followers, there is deep connection, vulnerability, understanding, and personal investment. Paul described his relationship to the Thessalonians just so: “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Community breathes life into leadership and grounds it in the supreme moral virtue that must accompany all truly biblical leaders—namely, agape love.