Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Church's Obsession With 'Leadership'

Phil Drysdale Ministries Facebook Page

All the bullying and abuse I experienced in my ex-church revolved around the question of leadership and hierarchy. Who was in control. Who was 'over' whom. Who was top dog.

Eventually, it became evident that the board of reference had covertly told elder J that he should be in top position and he was more than happy to agree with that. Of course, all this was backed up by God himself!

But apparently God changed his mind (but only after people's lives had already been torn apart by this issue) and J ended up leaving to start his own 'church', presumably so he could really be the leader.

The board had made it clear that they were inerrant, so it must have been God who got it wrong. (And I'm sure it had nothing to do with elder R refusing to give up the reigns of power!)

You see, it's all about leadership! The church is obsessed by it. And thousands of lesser mortals have ended up being run over by the bus* because they've dared to question the Bully Leader.

Far too often, this is "Leadership"... church-style.

My experience is just a single drop in the vast ocean of pain and wounding inflicted by 'christian leaders' on their brothers and sisters. These 'leaders' would rather see people hurt than give up one iota of their 'authority'.

There are vast numbers of books, conferences and websites teaching about how to be a great "Christian Leader". How to improve your leadership style. Why you should be leading now!

And they create an expectation of power over others. Being the one in control. Calling the shots.

And that, in turn, creates an expectation that others will follow... defer... respect.

The only trouble with all of this is that Jesus - you know, the guy we claim to be following - didn't talk about leadership at all.

Jesus talked about SERVING!

And just for the record, that was not "servant leadership". It was servanthood. Plain and simple.

Jesus called us to follow him - to imitate him. But I just don't see what he modelled being displayed in the western, business-driven church with its obsession on leadership.

If we committed even half the energy we expend on 'leadership' to simply loving and serving others - all others - we just might make an impact in our world. But while we continue to scramble for 'power' and 'authority', I believe that all we will see is more spiritual abuse, more lives devastated by 'the church', and more people leaving the institution to find healing and love outside those toxic walls.

*At least Mark Driscoll had the guts to be honest about his intentions!


  1. One of the things I had the opportunity to learn while working on Nauru was how to 'lead from behind'. It was in that particular role and position in the leadership structrue that I learnt that real leaderhsip has nothing to do with position - and that I could be happy leading in that way.

  2. I would say that you've learned an invaluable lesson, then! :)

  3. A friend of mine wrote this

    Thought you might find it interesting. You actually might find a lot of what he has to say interesting.

    1. There's some great stuff in that, thanks. I really appreciate you pointing me to it.