Incarnational Leadership

incarnational leadership

Recently I saw a quote from Mike Hyatt that I really liked,

“If you are going to be an effective leader, you must be able to enter into your followers’ world. In fact, if you are going to influence anyone for anything—whether it is your boss, your employees, a client, your spouse, or even your kids—you are going to have to get really good at incarnational leadership.”

Ironically, one of the best examples of this type of leadership has come from the new Pope Francis.  Zack Hunt, a new CLC author had this to say about him in a recent blog post,

“It’s almost as if Pope Francis is pressing the reset button, not just on the formality of the papacy, but the church itself and what it means to really be a follower of Jesus.  From his decision not to wear the papal cape at his unveiling, to holding a Holy Thursday service in a prison rather than a basilica, to paying his own hotel bill and avoiding the luxury of the papal apartment, to his most audacious act so far – washing the feet of two girls, one of whom was Muslim – this pope seems to be doing everything he can to, well, be like Jesus.”

Just mentioning the new Pope as an example has probably put some of my reader’s teeth on edge as we Protestants have a long history of pointing out all that is wrong with the Catholic Church.  While, I am not about to defend the theology of the Catholic Church, there is something refreshing about a new leader being accused of militant humility.  For far too long, we evangelicals have rightly been accused of arrogance and pride in our approach to a whole host of issues.

In my own life, I have realized time and time again how important it is to walk in other people’s shoes before coming to conclusions about them or their motivations.  It is easy to judge people that we do not know or do not understand.  I have been convicted recently in this national debate about same sex marriage that I don’t actually know any gay men or lesbians in my life.  Just making that statement was hard to do and probably shows my lack of awareness as there may be people in my life who are gay but are afraid to let me know.  I am certainly opposed to same sex marriage, but would love to understand more about why that issue has become so important to so many people.

As we enter a new era in our country when evangelicalism is simply one of many dominant forces but not necessarily the primary one, a call to incarnational leadership seems more critical than ever.   As my grandmother used to say, “Actions speak louder than words”.  Maybe it is time for a lot of us to tone down the rhetoric, stop the posture of attack, defend and destroy and try on some of this militant humility for a change.

It is interesting and ironic, that while the national debate in evangelical circles has been raging about same sex marriage, another moral issue has seemed to slip under the radar.  A recent report from the CDC says that today, “About 48 percent of the women surveyed lived with a partner as a first union, compared with 34 percent in 1995.”  The same report stated that, “Three of four women in the United States have lived with a partner without being married by age 30, an increasing trend that suggests cohabitation is now a regular part of family life.”  Interesting how we in the church seemed to have overlooked this trend while fighting over any issue involving homosexuals and they were happening at the exact same time.  If these stats are even somewhat accurate, there are probably quite a few young women that have grown up in the church that are choosing this option.  So is the new norm really just a cultural acceptance of homosexuality as another life choice or is it that the church is failing to convince young people that Biblical moral standards have any real meaning in their lives?

As more and more younger people leave the church, I wonder if it is just a rejection of institutional religion or if it is also about a rejection of the leadership model that has been espoused for so many years.  If more us in roles of influence choose a path of authentic repentant humility and service, what might that look like?  How could we begin to change the culture one act of love at a time?

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One response to “Incarnational Leadership

  1. Lloyd Hodkinson

    Thanks for this Dave. I think we all need to work harder at understanding the people we relate with, so that we can build relationship, rather than acquaintanceship. The Lord was the ultimate “relater” getting alongside people in His humility. This brings to mind the strength of “Family” which is what we claim the church is. Older Brothers have more influence on our decisions than Senior Leaders.

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