The evangelical Christian world is increasingly divided between two groups: the Believers and the Leaders.
The Believers are driven by deep and passionate beliefs. They are heavily invested in knowledge, and they are passionate about truth. They devote themselves to learning truth, teaching truth, and defending truth. They define themselves in terms of what they believe, and they are ready to give their lives for these beliefs.
The problem is, many of them are not ready to lead. They have never thought much about leadership and are afraid that thinking too much about it will turn them into mere pragmatists, which they know they shouldn't be. They know a great deal and believe a great deal, but they lack the basic equipment for leadership. As one proverbial deacon said of his pastor, "Oh, he knows a lot, but he can't lead a decent two-car funeral procession."
The Leaders, on the other hand, are passionate about leadership. They are tired of seeing organizations and movements die or decline, and they want to change things for the better. They look around and see dead and declining churches and lukewarm organizations. They are thrilled by the experience of leading and ardently study leadership wherever they can find it. They talk leadership wherever they go and are masters of motivation, vision, strategy, and execution.
Unfortunately, many of them are not sure what they believe or why it matters.
They are masters of change and organizational transformation, but they lack a center of gravity in truth. They often ride one program after another until they run out of steam. Then they wonder, What now?
I want to see the Believers turn into Leaders and the Leaders turn into Believers. The current models of leadership must make way for a new paradigm. I stake my life on the priority of right beliefs and convictions, and at the same time I want to lead so that those very beliefs are perpetuated in others. If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere.
We need to redefine Christian leadership so that it is inseparable from passionately held beliefs. We must motivate those who are deeply committed to truth to be ready for leadership.
I want to see a generation arise that is simultaneously leading with conviction and driven by the conviction to lead. The generation that accomplishes this will set the world on fire.
Albert Mohler is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. This excerpt is from his book, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters (Bethany House, 2012).
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