Leading by Title or Trust?
I am a father of three. My initial leadership to my children is based upon the title and the authority vested in my role as father. In this sense, I might be able to get them to conform to my expectations simply because I hold an authoritative position over them. But if my children only do what I tell them to do because I hold the title of father, then I have failed as a parent. That kind of leadership will only last until they leave our home. While I may hold the title of leader over them, I will not have fulfilled the wonderful blessing and opportunity of the role as God designed it. If I seek lasting impact, I must instead influence my children through character and example. I must live before them, with passion, the values I hold dear in the hopes that they will embrace them as well. I must not just teach them and tell them what to do, but serve and sacrifice for my children in order to earn real credibility. I must provide a vision for them of the kind of life I desire them to live, as well as empower them with the potential to live it. This is the virtue of love inherent in biblical leadership, and it represents God’s ultimate intent for believers who lead others.
Paul exemplified and Jesus epitomized true, biblical leadership when personal leadership is expressed through positional leadership (1 Thessalonians 2, Philippians 2:5–11)—that is, when leaders who hold position and power use that position and power for the benefit of others. Said another way, when people who possess the right to lead through title also earn the right to lead through trust, then leadership as God intends is expressed. Here, the magnanimity of leadership as designed by God is unveiled.