I’ve been thinking about leadership lately. There are at least two ways of thinking about leadership. One way is to think that most of us are followers and there are a few leaders among us who are accomplished in some way. They can show the rest of us where to go and what to do. In this way of thinking about leadership, the leaders have “done their time” as followers. There has been some sort of progression through which they have moved in order to become ready for leadership. Churches have typically thought of leadership in this way, and in my time at Aldersgate I have come to believe that this church is no exception.
However, there’s another way to think about leadership. It’s a way that was perhaps most undeniably taught to the world by Holocaust survivors. In this alternate way of thinking about leadership, everyone can lead from where they are. It is this way of thinking about leadership that allows for absolutely anyone to step in when they see injustice, oppression, or bullying and say no. It is this way of leading that provides a way for a black woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus when the rules said she had to move to the back in order to challenge prejudice. It is this model for leadership that we might even find long before the Holocaust in the stories of a Galilean man who refused to call Caesar “god”. Instead he healed on the Sabbath when love demanded it, asked his followers to become like children not like the leaders of the church or state, and embodied sacrificial love in the midst of a land occupied by a brutal empire. Leadership among Jesus followers calls all of us to lead from where we are toward a future that God is creating.
If my musings have any merit, then we might need to start thinking of leadership in the church a different way. Those who have been called to serve on a committee or team or those who teach or share witness are certainly leaders. However, they might not be the only ones. There might be leaders who can start a movement, show the way by their example, and learn the lessons of leadership while leading all around us. I wonder what it would be like if we could live into that possibility. I don’t have the answers, but I hope we can start to discover them together.