I was watching a film called “The Core” the other day. It was not something I had planned. In fact, had I seen it was on and checked the info on it, I would have turned over as soon as I realised it was a Sci-Fi film, because I can’t stand that genre. I think this is the result of being traumatized as a kid every time I saw a sci-fi movie where there was some impending disaster about to destroy the world or some weird creature eating up humans. I did not like it then, and I like these even less now. BUT….. I started watching this particular film ten minutes in, and something in it grabbed me. This film in short is about a team of scientists who travel into the earth core on a special mission to save the world from destruction. The utter predictable nature in the story line of sci-fi films had already made its way into my attention span, and just as I was about to get up and go, this line was said by the Chief Team Commander to another team member minutes before they are about to embark on the most important and dangerous mission that ever was. They are exchanging impressions as to how ready they feel they are for the mission, and then the Chief says to another team member: “You are not a leader until you have lost”. The Chief Commander tells her that she is a very competent and intelligent person who is always used to winning, who never fails at what she does, and so with that track record she is not yet cut out to be the leader of that mission. She has not found herself in that situation yet where everything is hanging in the balance and she is the person who has to make a decision either way, and when she does, she is soon to discover it was the wrong one. He is making the point to her that he has been in that situation and accepting failure and not running away from its consequences is as much in the make up of a leader if not much more, than the successes. From a personal point of view and thinking of my father who successfully raised a business from a poor background, I can testify that nothing is more true than this. You have to learn to deal and face up to your mistakes and not just with the successes. Bailing out when things get hard and whitewashing mistakes instead of admitting to them cannot, will not help you become a leader in whatever area of life you are moving forward.
As I heard that line, I immediately felt God placing in my heart this idea but in the context of His bride, The Church at large. The whole Church Body in the Western world, particularly in the USA and the UK, have been and are absolutely besotted and seduced by this concept of Church Leadership. The resources available to those who feel called to lead within the Church and invested in by myriads of churches, have become a business which moves millions of pounds and dollars, a cancer which eats into vital time, gifting and resources, instead of allowing Christians to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this frail world. It is a travesty in my opinion that this money is not given instead fully to mission. Christ’s message is all about reaching the lost; about picking up our cross and FOLLOWING HIM, and not about not accepting responsibility for our mistakes and always walking scot-free from those mistakes, so that we are always the ones being admired and followed. I see little in the gospel about this kind of leadership, and much about putting oneself last to bring LIFE to others. And yet, this is often what church elders and pastors will discuss in their meetings, from the pulpits, in their social networks, blogs, twitter, conferences, you name it. If you were to randomly pick a Christian Leader’s entries in a blog, twitter or sermons on podcast, I wonder how many so-called church leaders would be found to focus all their attention on themselves and their efforts to be a better “leader”, instead of using every opportunity to be heard to talk about Jesus and His servant’s heart and humility, the real traits of a biblical leader. Indefinitely amounting knowledge through Leadership conferences, tapes and books is not what is required. A leader is wrought in the fire of affliction and trials. A leader is formed in the kiln of wrong choices and decisions followed by humble repentance, often public admission and a selfless willingness to pick up the pieces and start again. That is where true humility is formed and that is the Leadership Schooling which the majority of so-called Christian Leaders today are not willing to go to. Many deceive themselves and instead of facing up to mistakes, they move on and call their running away God’s will. God in His infinite mercy and grace will continue to love and use some of these people within His Body until eventually, the snowballing effect of whitewashing so many mistakes becomes so powerful that the leader no longer knows the difference between what is TRUTH and what is not. It is at that point that the leader will continue to move in His own strength, outside of the will of God and what may look like successful leadership to the onlookers is nothing more than pride and tares in the eyes of the Lord.