Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A strong, surrendered will

I enjoyed this article by John Ortberg about The strong-willed Leader. There are times in ministry when we get things wrong, when we are too stubborn or arrogant to bend and move. But there are other times when we are perceived to be both or either of these things when we are not.

Leadership demands a determined commitment to the driving force of whatever it is that you are leading. In my case the driving force is the mission of God. I cannot afford to be distracted from that, for when I am I become driven by other things.

John Ortberg rightly points out that  stubbornness blocks both learning and effectiveness whereas humility gives flexibility and encourages learning as we seek to fulfil our goal and calling. Therefore a strong will must be accompanied by a humble heart for the effective leader. When Jesus declared, "Not my will, but your will," he was surrendering his will not giving in. He needed a very strong will in order to maintain his focus and commitment to fulfilling his Father's purposes.

Of course we are far from able to discern clearly when we are being strong-willed in this surrendered sense or simply stubborn, but there are some hints in the article about what might be our best indicators. For example, we are being stubborn when the focus is on ourselves. When self-gratification is the goal, stubbornness is most clearly at work.

Probably the best defence against arrogant stubbornness on the part of the leader is time spent with God. As I prepare for my induction I'm reminded once again that the single most important thing that I do is pay attention to my own spiritual growth. If I am not walking with God, I can't lead anyone else along that path either.

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