Tragedy looms large over church leadership as it often adopts the language, the values, and strategies of the marketplace to explain the incomparable mission of the church. We have forgotten that the kingdom of God is not a business enterprise and the missio dei is not like any plan that was formulated by the brightest human minds. This tragedy is prevalent all over the world and India is no exception.
Leadership is always contextual and faith has to be lived out in the midst of challenges it encounters. The situation in India is alarming not only because the church is facing unprecedented persecution, is divided along ethnic lines, and caste discrimination is also visible in the church and the way Christian NGO’s operate. The church as a community of the Holy Spirit bound by cords of love, in order to be light and salt of the society remains a big challenge for church to model. Does it show the insecurity of the leadership? I think so. When the identity and security is sought in ethnicity, language and colour of the skin, it is not then a sign of insecurity of leadership.
When the Bible states “God is love” (1 John 4:8) it shows God’s ways are highly personal. Its more about who we are then what we do. God’s personal intervention in the painful and violent world in Christ sets the model of leadership. Jesus lived life “full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). He fully identified with our humanity except sin. This lesson is not taught in leadership books which hit the market selling dreams of successful researched principles of leadership. We easily succumb. Our need is to return to the old and ever fresh principle of incarnate leadership that empowers the powerless, gives hope to the hopeless. While Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12: 32). We often hear fear not big flock you are the kingdom for we have the numbers.
The number game gets incentive from the phrase often used: “Return on investment.” This mantra is elevated to the status of prophetic word by its worshippers. Grants fall or shower depending on how you provide numbers.
God became one of us and lived among us in order to lead us out of darkness and into a marvelous light. Remarkably enough, God’s chosen way for leading us to salvation and liberation- through the humanity of Jesus- remains his preferred way: incarnating divinity through humanity to love a hurting, sinful world. But leadership fails- every time – when it becomes mechanistic or in any way impersonal or relationally anaemic to all of community of Christ or to all of God’s creation, it takes a position on a pedestal, treating the people down below as projects or causes or problems. There is no substitute to incarnation full of grace and truth.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell