March 10, 2008

Tim Keller vs. John Maxwell

Picture these two squaring off in the octagon! And tell me that wouldn't be hilarious.

Back when I was in college, I got involved in leadership in a variety of ways in everything from summer freshman orientations to residence life. Ever since then, I have in one capacity or another been drawn to being a leader. Whether it was being a volunteer leader of a sports ministry at my local church, or taking ownership and leadership of a region, or leading and guiding staff to grow a business, or teaching a Sunday school class or community group, I am wired to take the ball and run with it from a leadership perspective.

And again, I find myself in a position of leadership. This time, it will be leading a church plant named Eternity. And as I think about that and how I've grown as a leader, Tim Keller and John Maxwell came to mind. You see, ten years ago, I was reading every leadership book I could get my hands on. I've read:

21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership
Jesus The CEO
Lincoln On Leadership
Spiritual Leadership (Blackaby And Sanders)
The Servant Leader
Who Moved My Cheese
The Leaders Legacy
The Pillars Of Leadership

And many more! And here's what I found. None of them prepared me for being a leader. NONE! Am I saying that they were not useful? Not at all. What I am saying is that ultimately, they didn't do a thing to prepare me as a leader. Because they all focused on me. They focused on the checklist of things I needed to do to get people to follow me. They reduced leadership down to a set of "principles" and "laws" that get people to buy into you.

And then there is this quote by Tim Keller:

Most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the successful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus' costly grace. The number one leaders in every church(ORGANIZATION emphasis mine) ought to be the people who repent the most fully without excuses, because you don't need any now; the most easily without bitterness; the most publicly and the most joyfully. They know their standing isn't based on their performance.

And it hit me. What has prepared me to be a leader has been Jesus. Jesus has prepared me through His word, through time in prayer with Him, through the thousands of sermons I have listened to, through the countless times He has placed bold and courageous friends in my life to call me to the carpet on my ignorance and my sin. Jesus has prepared me to do what I am doing now. And Jesus will help me to persevere through it. Jesus will be there to hold me when I fall over the coming years. Jesus will be there to rebuke me when I go astray. Jesus will be there to strengthen me, embolden me, and encourage me.

Jesus prepares you to be a leader. Not a book. And to the extent that you are aware of who Jesus is and who you are not will determine how ready you are to lead. So here's a quick suggestion:

Put the man made leadership laws down and get on your knees before Jesus and ask Him to break you and mold you. Man doesn't make a leader. Jesus breaks a leader.


Sarah Jo said...

Sweet post today! It's really applicable to the Catalyst leadership study Chris, Stephen, Amy, and I are doing right now.

Righteous, dude!

Mike Leake said...

Thank you very much for this post. It is right on! I too spent tons of time preparing myself as a leader, with the Maxwell type books. And I was only a leader in theory. I've grown more in the past 4 years in leadership without having read a single book on leadership--but being more centered in the Gospel. Thank you for pointing this out!

Also, where is that Keller post from? I haven't read much by Keller, but am beginning to realize I need to.

Yogi Taylor said...

Great quote and great thought. God Bless you!


Marc Backes said...

Mike & Yogi,

That sounds a little like either I'm talking to the New York Yankees or a cartoon...

Either way, thank you guys for your responses. I'm glad to know someone's reading the blog!

Hope NE Missouri and Mobile are good...


Ben and Gina said...

Dang Marc,

Great post, it hit home.


Anonymous said...

Good article. I know people who read
every book by the top leadership gurus and they are still not leaders
and for the most part they are failures.

Just follow Jesus through prayer, Bible reading and using good common sense. I think these big shot leadership guys just like writing books to sell. I think they mean well but I don't think they really help that many people.

Stop buying these books and making these guys rich.


Anonymous said...

Why this burning need to 'become a leader'?