“HOW” is an Imperative for Christian Leaders

By Peggy Hahn

I’m reading and I realize how much behavior (the how…) matters for Christian leaders right now.  With the Christian movement less than popular in most places, those of us who are professional Christians have a lot of responsibility to practice our faith in a way that looks more like Jesus than like… (Okay, I won’t name any names here.)

The stakes for clear values that show up in our behavior are higher than ever.  I’m thinking there is a difference between being “moralstic” and having values that are fully integrated in to our identity and practices make a difference.   In a hyperconnected world, where information can quickly metastasize due to the power of electronic media (what goes on facebook goes everywhere, right?)   Moral interdependence is inescapable in a word where what happens in one country, one congregation or even one household impacts another – we are no longer distant, disconnected or really as individualistic as we might like to think.

Seidman writes: “Once we hoped kids would naturally model their behavior on that of their elders.  Nowadays behavior is in the cloud.  My son is not three years old.  As he grows up, virtually everything that he says and does can live online forever.  Wherever he goes, his reputation will arrive before he gets there.  It is all the more important that I inspire in him the sustainable values that will help him keep his feet on the ground and guide him on the path in this strange and exciting new world.”

He goes on to say that principled behavior is the key to success in any organization. Sticks and carrots (punishment & rewards) have pushed people to play by the rules but the rules won’t ever motivate or inspire.  Leaders, I would say, especially Christian leaders, rely more on inspiration and less on coercion and motivation, especially if we are hoping people around us will be attracted to the Lord of our life, right?

Call me idealistic, but I dream of a congregational culture where people operate more on trust, permission-giving and encouragement than control, control, control.  Yeah, there are risks but the control model isn’t bringing down the house.  AND it starts with us – the leaders working on our own behavior.

I think it is more and more important for us to realize that a shift in ourselves to try (again… and again) to be more like Jesus is really the first step to the renewal of our congregations.

By the way, as I write this article, I have only read the preface and first chapter, but I am recommending this book!

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