Mar 02, 2009 by Howard Baker | 0 Comments
At this momentous time in the life of Denver Seminary I find these reflections from a former president of another seminary particularly timely for all of us. We are each leaders in some capacity and in some circle and are called to follow Jesus in his way of leadership. In my view, the following thoughts get us taking first steps in the right direction.
Let us continue to pray for one another, for our Seminary leadership, and for our Seminary Board to have the spirit of Christ as we follow and lead in these challenging and opportune times.
I have been asked to reflect on my five years in the presidency at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary...Yet at the very heart of my reflection on my service lies this one major conclusion... I was wrong. I was wrong in my understanding and preconceived notions of leadership in Christian ministry. I was wrong in my expectations of others and myself. And I was wrong in my motivations, which may be the hardest thing to admit.
...My problem was not with preparation, motivation, or even with a sense of true calling and a sincere desire to serve God with the best of my skills and abilities. The problem lay solely with my pre-determined understanding of what Christian leadership is really all about.
Five years ago, if you had asked me for a Scripture that epitomized the leadership ideal, I would likely have pointed you to Nathan's directive to King David, "Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you." (2 Samuel 7:3) I could identify with David as ‘God's man at God's time' and I believed that God would pour out his wisdom and favor if I could be such a man. After all, there were kingdoms to conquer and people to be led. There were great things to be done for the Lord and no vision was too limited and no goal too small.
Now, five years later, I would point to a different verse. In speaking of Jesus' incarnation, Paul tells us, "he made himself a man of no reputation, taking on the very nature of a servant." (Phil 2:7) The verse does not say that Jesus became a man of bad reputation, or questionable reputation, but simply of ‘no' reputation. That is, reputation, image, prestige, prominence, power, and other trappings of leadership were not only devalued, they were purposefully dismissed. Jesus became such a man. Not by default or accident, but by intention and design. And it was only in this form that he could serve, love, give, teach, and yes, lead.
In reflecting on these past five years, I have come to believe that true Christian leadership is an ongoing, disciplined practice of becoming a person of no reputation, and thus, becoming more like Christ in this unique way. In his reflections on Christian leadership, Henri Nouwen refers to this as resisting the temptation to be relevant. He says, "I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self." Five years ago I rejected this idea outright. In doing so, I was wrong. Today I see and affirm this important notion that lies at the heart of godly leadership. (Excerpted from "Becoming a Leader of No Reputation," Journal of Religious Leadership, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 - 119.)
R. Scott Rodin is President of Rodin Consulting of Spokane, Washington and part of the John R. Frank Consulting Group of Seattle, Washington. R. Scott Rodin is the former president of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The full article is available at http://www.christianleaders.org/JRL/Fall2002/rodin.htm and I enthusiastically recommend it.