Thursday, August 4, 2005

Wild @ Leadership

Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment, but let me comment a bit on John Eldridge's Wild At Heart, especially as I think it pertains somewhat to leadership in the church.

One of my professors at seminary really disliked everything Eldridge wrote, and regularly referred to Wild At Heart as a great step backwards into patriarchical attitudes and the disempowering of the feminine voice. To listen to her, you'd get the impression that Eldridge was Bill Gothard: The Next Generation, wanting to place women back under God's chain of command the way ol' Bill thought she should be.

Of course, this particular professor also was reknown for her seething diatribes against all things Pentecostal, Charismatic, and especially the Vineyard, so I figured if she could be so passionately wrong about that, maybe her reaction to Eldridge was similarly over-stated.

There were a number of places where I found myself heartily agreeing with Eldridge, and others where I wasn't in agreement. But his discussion on the emasculation of men twigged an idea in my mind about the emasculation of leadership in the emerging church.
See? Even when reading a book that has nothing to do with the emerging church or leadership, somehow my mind ends up there anyhow...
One of Eldridge's biggest beefs is that he feels that our contemporary society has emasculated and "tamed" men, resulting in a lack of masculine identity and a host of males that fit into the category of a "shell of a man".
I don't share his view. :)
But to extrapolate his point: in some parts of the emerging church, I believe the same thing has been done to people with leadership gifting. In our rush to avoid the abusive and authoritarian models of church leadership that seem to crop up everywhere -- whether it's the CEO model where the "boss" controls everything and fires dissidents, or the "touch not the Lord's anointed" charismatic version that silences all but the "yes-men" -- many have tossed the Spirit-given gift of leadership out with the authoritarian bathwater.

Some house churches insist that their level playing field approach means that there's no leadership but God's. Usually, it only takes visiting these groups once or twice before the real leaders become fairly obvious.

You can't escape the reality that God has placed people within the Body who have been gifted by the Holy Spirit with leadership. To force people to squelch their spiritual gifts in order to preserve the status quo of the "level playing field" is emasculating (dis-empowering) the laity as much as any authoritarian hierarchical structure. To paraphrase an old saying, the answer to bad leadership is not "no leadership", but rather biblical, Spirit-gifted leadership.