Recently I heard what has become a common call to Good: someone working to build up more leaders from a particular group of people. In order to try to keep things objective I won’t tell you the description of the group: it really doesn’t matter. Let’s just call them “The Cohort”. This person was on a podcast describing an effort to have more people from The Cohort become leaders. It should be said that this person was entirely well-meaning. I really don’t think they were twisting their mustache because their evil plot to make new leaders was going ahead according to plan. But the whole idea was never even questioned. It was discussed in that myopic way that “Good” things are thought of these days: the same culture that believes in strict moral relativism largely assumes the good of anything that they assume helps people. What could possibly be wrong about wanting to make more leaders? Not wrong: misguided. We must always defend ourselves against our own assumptions and never contract the illness of someone else’s assumption.
Here is what struck me about the plan: it wasn’t to help people feed their children or educate themselves or die in peace: something that might be valuable in allowing people the dignity they inherently deserve. The call to make leaders is different and yet can be sold as being in the same category. It raises leadership to something that all should aspire to; a calling bordering on a human right.
But leadership is not a right; it is a responsibility. The world system believes we should crank out leaders from a diverse range of people not because of what those people might bring to the table but because they have a right to lead and we have no right to choose only certain groups from which to choose our leaders. Few seem to notice that to pick leaders based on a set of demographics is really no different than the problem they are trying to solve. If we have too many leaders from group “A” we think we should add more from group “B”; but we’re still making a person’s group the criteria for being a good leader. We haven’t made much progress.
Saying we need more leaders is like saying we need more airline pilots: a job inherently dangerous to the pilot and, if they perform poorly, to all the passengers. When I heard someone calling for more of The Cohort in leadership roles I couldn’t help but be concerned for them. “Wait, it’s a trap!” I wanted to tell them! “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into!” Leaders suffer: they are alone, they are questioned, challenged, blamed, and are responsible for themselves and others. Like the first bird in the formation they take the wind resistance. Is what’s best for The Cohort really to draw more of them into that jungle?
Now on the other hand I Timothy 3:1 says, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” So maybe wanting to be a leader isn’t so bad. But then the following verses go on to describe the character required of a leader in God’s Church. This is because while in the Kingdom of the World leadership equals authority and authority is a virtue and virtue is a right, the Kingdom of God has no such view of leaders. Leaders are servants in the dark. They do not seek to be seen but to lead people toward the unseen. They see hidden things in hidden people: gifts and potential. They suffer in sacrifice for the good of those for whom they are accountable. They do not feel entitled to lead but a calling to serve.
We do not need more leaders. We need godly leaders.