Guest post written by: Fred Garmon
Many people are critical of what is often called a “CEO” model of ministry. But all too often what people actually have in mind is an older, outdated model. It is a model that is still used by some today, even within the ministry, mostly an unconscious behavior, but still utilized.
Eugene Peterson, a Presbyterian author and pastor was once questioned about the promotion of a “CEO model of ministry.” Peterson was quick to provide clarification, because what CEO’s do and how they do it today has changed drastically. As Peterson reminds us, lumping all such models of ministry into one stack is not helpful, nor is it wise. Once again, my two favorite words come into play; “IT DEPENDS.” From what I find in research and personal experience, there is much that can be gleaned from what leaders learn and how they learn it in corporate settings. Let us not be guilty of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Truth is, the old CEO model of leadership is now a very old practice in most corporate settings with most corporate leaders choosing practical information pointing toward “servant leadership”rather than the top down, hierarchical models of the past. And I wish I could say the same for ministry settings, but if the statement is valid that says the church typically lags about 20 years behind conventional and relevant practices, then we are definitely due for a paradigm shift ourselves. The pink elephant in the ministry room today too often reveals a pyramid mental model of leadership, depicting sometimes a benevolent dictator, and at other times a mean-spirited ego fueled style.
What I advocate is a hybrid model that emphasizes characteristics built around SERVICE and RELATIONSHIPS. I believe this to be the Matthew 20:20ff model of leadership explicitly taught by Jesus. It is also a model that John Wesley advocated, and it involved “plundering the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:36), gleaning helpful practices and principles examined, sorted, and sifted carefully through the filter of scripture.
Appropriately executed, this approach provides incredible leadership development information and initiatives that lift the leadership quotient significantly among ministers, both in issues pertaining to character and competence. And these two characteristics are paramount, especially when knowing that research reveals followers want to know two things about those whom they choose to follow; (1) can we trust them? And (2), do they know what they are doing?
These factors represent precisely why I built my LeaderLabs 10 Essential Skills training on the foundation of four fundamental principles,
- The Church is the HOPE of the world.
- Healthy LEADERSrepresent the HOPE of the Church.
- There is a leadership CRISIS today in both the marketplace and ministry.
- The crisis is one of CHARACTER and COMPETENCE.
Literature today defines leadership with the one word definition of CHANGE. Management, however, is defined as STATUS QUO. Such scrutiny applied to ministry leadership often reveals little leadership skill and many attempts at management, with poor management capabilities. Once reality is defined and understood, it can be ignored or addressed.
This is why skill number one within my 10 Essential Skills training starts with “INTEGRITY OF HEART.” Scripture plainly teaches, “Above all else, guard your heart” (Proverbs 4:23). Godly character has been referred to as “sanctification of the soul” and what could possibly be the greatest challenge any of us face—especially as Christian leaders. But the ministry itself is often the greatest adversary or impediment to the goal of godly character.
For leaders to be effective, they must realize that their character development is as important as ministry success, and knowing how to do your job with excellence (competency) is a twin characteristic if one is to have loyal followers.
So, if you “want to be GREAT or FIRST” (Matthew 20:26,27) then your ambition should flow from a heart of character and competence. And you should seek to engage every possible means to be sure you are leading like Jesus. After all, scripture does say concerning this important issue… “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).