A stronger obligation than ever exists in professional sports today to hire a younger coach, who played himself, and can relate better to the younger players. The consideration behind the thinking is that young players won't just respect a coach any more. Greater value is put on relating
. The coach indulges them if he wants to see some kind of positive response. The days of expecting obedience and confronting disobedience are long gone. A coach who says, jump, and thinks a player will ask, how high, better think again. A popular sentiment is that younger players just aren't coachable anymore. They can't be coached, only cajoled.
Have the rules actually changed in the relationship between someone in authority and those under him? Did God change the rules? Should fathers, husbands, employers, teachers, and pastors reconsider the old way of leading and develop a new kind of leadership to relate to a new kind of follower? Can people still rely on scripture as a sufficient guide for preparing and judging leaders?
One of the major new components to leading are the feelings of the adherents. How does the leader make them feel? Is he sensitive enough? Is he too scary? Does he relate enough? Is he using the right pronouns? Are those under his leadership having a good time, enjoying themselves, having fun while being led? Do they get enough time in the jumper? Have they received enough affirmation, high-fives, yellow ribbons for participation, plaques in the back of the store for employee of the month?
Scripture is much more basic or cut-and-dry as it deals with leadership. The perfect example for understanding this in the Bible is God the Father leading God the Son. God the Father was pleased with God the Son. Why? The Son did everything the Father wanted Him to do. A few times in scripture, the Father announces He's pleased with the Son and in every instance it is when the Son has completed a required task that the Father wanted. Of course, the Son never disobeys the Father, so we never find out point-blank whether the Father would still be pleased even if the Son disobeyed, but we really do know that the Father wouldn't. He's never pleased when someone does something different than what He says to do. The Son had the one goal of always pleasing the Father. When instructed to sacrifice Himself, do the hardest things, the Son complied.
Going back to where I started in this discussion, the new requirement for leaders is that they remain pleased even when they are not obeyed. They can't expect adherence from their adherents. If they do expect it, it must be a very soft expectation, an ambiguous one with no signal of possible displeasure, just smiles and happy tones, whether the instructions were followed or not. None of this is scriptural. Someone who won't do what he's told and with a good attitude is the one who is in the wrong, not the leader.
What has happened? The culture, society, modern civilization has turned from a biblical view of authority, starting with God. A civilized culture functioning properly requires respect of authority. Perhaps you've heard, respect the office. Even if you don't like the person in the office, maybe because of you and not him, you respect the office. That idea proceeds from the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote that all authority comes from God, so it needs to be obeyed (Romans 13:1-3). This is a hierarchical view. Obedience to human authority is obedience to God, except in areas where it would mean disobedience to God (Acts 5:29).
When the leadership template is reversed, and obedience or compliance depends on the pleasing of the follower, the whole paradigm changes. The one below is now in charge. He also decides whether he likes the way he's getting led -- the tone, the body language, the rewards, the level of accountability. This will never work. It's not working right now, because it is how things are going in the world by the reports of many that I know in many different realms of authority.
Expectations of the Leader
With a scriptural view in mind, what are the expectations for a leader in the Bible? The person following should want to know that His leader is leading him into what is true, good, and right, so the leader knows the truth, tells the truth, and then himself obeys the truth. He doesn't expect one thing of those he is leading and another for himself. If the leader isn't leading in the right direction, isn't telling the truth, taking everyone toward the right goal, then that leader is not meeting scriptural expectations. No one should expect followers to go the wrong way.
Beyond that first biblical expectation, a leader should provide what is necessary to complete a required task. I think of Psalm 128. The wife is like a fruitful vine and the children like olive plants. The vine and the plants must be watered and fed, essentially planted in good ground like the trees in Psalm 1. A leader gives his followers what they need to accomplish the right and good goals. This is what God does. He is a good God.
God gives mankind everything that he needs. He provides. He gives men what they need to do what He says. He doesn't just give; He gives and gives and gives. That should be respected.
The follower should be thanking God. He should be recognizing the bounty, all the good things that God supplies. He should focus on what He has been given, not what He hasn't been given or just what He wants. Scripture differentiates followers by whether they are thankful or unthankful. Unthankfulness characterizes the unbeliever (Romans 1:21).
If you are a follower and your leader has given and given and given, he has been clear with the requirements, he has explained them, believed them, and they are the truth, then he has earned your respect. God expects you to respect him. He is entitled to your respect. If you don't give it to him, you don't have a good reason not to do that. Your reasons are selfish, proud, ungodly, and rebellious. You should expect to hear that you are all of those, because that is the truth as well.
Leaders today feel a different kind of pressure from the culture about their leadership. I read it, watch it, and hear about it. They've got to give fun and games and good times. They can't do enough to "earn the respect." The followers are holding the leaders hostage. Many leaders have succumbed to that pressure by pandering to followers, gaining followers by promising more, by lessening the expectations of the follower. Almost everything is a negotiation. This is a recipe for disaster.
A leader says, no, and the supposed follower begins to throw a fit or go dark. He's not going to do what he's told or he's at least going to moderate his effort to his judgment of his leader. The leader retreats, cedes ground or authority. He begins the negotiation, starts promising things, some temporal, fleshly allurement. Once someone gets his way, it gets worse, because this ploy has worked. The worst that a leader can do is to give in to these types of threats from those he is leading.
I don't think there is anything uglier than the entitlement of someone under leadership. They obviously either don't understand or are rebellious against what scripture says about their role. This might not happen so much in the workplace as it does in other spheres of authority, because the employee values money. He will put up with some bad treatment, especially if he doesn't have the necessary talent to be indisposable to the boss or the company. He will do what he's told to keep his job, but during times of low unemployment, like we have right now in this country, employers are putting up with a lot from people. They understand that they can always get another job and it doesn't matter if the employer is pleased.
As all of the above relates to church authority, things are worse. I'm not saying they are bad at my church, but what a pastor can expect from church members is worse. More than ever, members feel entitled to expectations. I'm not saying leaders are fulfilling most of member expectations, but in general members don't obey their leaders, let alone New Testament commands. Some of this has to do with a different view of Jesus Christ. Jesus has become a buddy and pal, and not Lord in most churches. He's there for therapy. He's there to forgive. He's there to provide good feelings, which is exactly how members see their church leadership too.
When someone in a church is in error, a pastor should deal with that. It's part of loving and protecting the flock. I've noticed the popularity of certain verses to the exclusion of others. Members don't remember the chastisement of Hebrews 12, scourging out of love. They don't remember reprove, rebuke, and exhort. They remember and emphasize 2 Timothy 2:24:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.
And they like 1 Peter 5:2-3:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.
The emphasis here is on the part, "neither as being lords over God's heritage." Being gentle and not being a lord over the flock are prone to subjectivity. Almost anything can be interpreted as not gentle or as lording. Just speaking with a masculine tone, and not something lilting and dainty, could be taken as intimidation.
Joining a church is becoming a body part that is under its head. The unity of a church is maintained by enforcement of requirements. Someone is a member. Membership means gracious, kind help for church members. It also means intervention when someone flouts the standards agreed upon. At that juncture, tone is a lesser concern. Happiness should not be expected. Some form of disfavor will occur that doesn't contradict gentleness. Gentleness and expression of dislike are both required.
It might sound odd, but prostitutes are effective at leadership. "Seduce" comes from the Latin seductio
, which means "to lead." We wouldn't call this good
leadership, but it works. Followers might prefer this of their leaders, leadership by seduction. It's how the leader earns respect, using seduction techniques to charm his followers. Peter describes this leadership in 2 Peter 2:17-19: "they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness. . . they promise them liberty."
Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." As a Shepherd, Jesus leads His followers. They follow His voice. Leadership comes from explaining and instructing in the truth. When followers won't listen, they need to be warned. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 that the approach depends on the follower. Some need comfort or strengthening, others need support, but some, the unruly, need warning. In Titus 3:10-11, the factious person is warned or confronted only, and then after the third time, he's rejected.
Very often Jesus reminded His followers that He was in charge and that He was telling them what to do. They needed to listen because of the authority He possessed. Jesus did that with the Great Commission, beginning that command at the end of Matthew 28 by reminding the followers that He possessed all authority. Paul reminded His listeners of His authority all the time with what he wanted them to follow. In 1 Corinthians 11, he starts off by commanding the church to imitate him.
A Concluding Hypothetical
I want to take you through a little hypothetical now. Let's say there was a leader and he told his followers, expecting that they were followers and thinking that he was entitled based on reasonable criteria to be followed, I want you to do this one thing and if you don't do it, I'm going to kill you. Would you follow that leader? Would you grow resentful of the leader because of his intimidation and threat? God said in Genesis 2:17:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
It isn't a hypothetical. It's what God said to Adam and Eve, His children. He took care of His children, provided for them, but if they didn't follow this command, he would kill them. He did kill them, because they didn't obey. Why didn't they obey? Because they were resentful and didn't believe that their Father had earned their respect. This was the tack Satan took to get them to disobey and it worked. It's still working today, right now on many different fronts.
Adam and Eve didn't like God's leadership style. They believed that entitled them to disobey. Cain also didn't like God's leadership style. You can move out from there, very often unbelievers. The judgment of leadership style is a cop-out. It isn't a basis for rejecting leadership. The onus in scripture is upon the follower to follow the leader. If the leader is practicing the truth, which entails being obedient himself and then repentant and change when he is not, then he should be followed. If he is in a position of authority, even if he isn't a good example, he should still be obeyed, if he's telling you the truth. Just because you don't like how he told you to stop or what he wanted you to do doesn't give you a basis for not following. You're just a rebel. He deserves to be followed because God says that He is.