While perusing FB today, I came across the below quote from Lance Ford. http://www.facebook.com/lncford
“Both “servant-leader” and “servanthood” are watered-down terms that fall short of the necessary gumption to overcome the leader-centric mentality that saturates the church world. They are but twists on a vague notion of semi-humility. In many evangelical leadership cultures the idea of a servant-leader is in reality tantamount to a benevolent dictatorship.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Lance on the statement (As a matter of fact, I come out of a denomination that actually uses the term “benevolent dictator” as a common descriptor of good pastoral leadership – I am not joking – wait, I just threw up in my mouth as I recalled that fact), but some of the dialogue that followed in the FB thread seemed to be more of a reaction to what I would call an unrestrained American version of what leadership means, which seeks to somehow extricate the term from our vernacular like that will make the throbbing desire for attention or power go away.
I haven't read Lance’s book (so he may deal with this in it), but the question I might have from the FB thread is how does it fit with Paul, while talking about spiritual gifting saying, "the one who leads, do with zeal..." The word means to have charge over or rule. I'm certainly not contesting the servant/slave model or the need to live as a follower under the Kingship of Christ, but to dismiss the term leader seems like it may be an overstatement that misses the point. Look, leadership happens regardless if we say the word or not. It can be very good or very bad. Why is there a line to listen to authors (like Lance) or pastors or conference speakers? An aside: it probably wouldn’t hurt the American church to have moratorium on conferences and guest speakers for a year – any kind of big shot stuff. Revival might actually break out.
BTW – this is not to in anyway dismiss Lance or his book. I have heard nothing but good things about him from friends I have that know him well. I hope to take a look at the book in the future (as usual, there are many in my queue right now – here is the Amazon link), but I am speaking to a general reactivity to the term that I have been picking up.
What do you think? How should we view the term "leader?"
Is there a legit leadership function that God empowers and uses to help His work in the word?