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Christian Leadership View on Management: A Biblical View



There are many definitions of management given. “Management is the process of planning, organising, leading, and controlling the work of organisation members and of using all available organisational resources to reach organisational goals” (Stoner et al 1995:33). Thus management as defined above has clearly delegated tasks which are the tasks of management. Though management has “leadership” among its delegated the overall leadership responsibility is provided by those who hire the management. The role is far much bigger than that of the management.

http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-leadership.html (accessed 19th of November 2014) notes the following in trying to define Christian leadership. “There is no finer example for Christian leadership than our Lord Jesus Christ. He declared, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). It is within this verse that we see the perfect description of a Christian leader. He is one who acts as a shepherd to those “sheep” in his care.” The shepherd motif is very instrumental in Christian leadership; it is not just reaching organisational goals as in management.

Old Testament is full of the shepherd motif when speaking of Israel’s leaders. Ezekiel 34v1ff is very instructive. Leaders are to care for the sheep not only to benefit from the sheep.
It is also instructive that when Jesus probes Peter about his devotion to him he uses the ‘shepherd motif’ to outline the expectations Christ had on his leadership (John 21v15ff). His overall leadership responsibility meant feeding and caring for the flock, part of which was young and weak and is called the ‘lambs’. Such is the enormity of the responsibility thrust on Christian leadership, it goes beyond mere management.

Pauline literature carries on the shepherd motif. For example, Paul in Acts 20v17ff (cf v28) equates false teachers to ‘wolves’ and the leaders to ‘shepherds’ who should guard the flock. This guarding the flock will involve sound teaching of doctrine.

In addition, Christian leadership has a sense of God’s calling, in the sense of being anointed for service to God. Again, those who would be called to Christian leadership whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament will be expected to fulfil certain pre-requisites. For instance, 1 Timothy 3v1ff spells out specific requirements for leadership. These range from personal character traits to issues of competence in the articulation and teaching of doctrine. This includes both the polemics (refutation of false teaching) and apologetics (defending the Christian teaching from heresy).

Thus, Christian Leadership and management are different but complimentary. Christian Leadership carries far much greater responsibility than Management. Management is one aspect of Christian Leadership and not the total summation of it. Having said that, it is noteworthy that great leaders are great managers; the reverse is, however, not necessarily true.

Citing from the scriptures, give at least one biblical model of a “good leader” and one of a “bad leader” discuss their personality traits, leadership qualities, success and pitfalls.    

This paper will look at the first two kings of Israel and compare and contrast their leadership, the first is Saul who was the first king installed after the elders requested a king. It is important also to note from the onset, that this request for a king is triggered by leadership failure not in Samuel but by his sons who did not walk in the ways of their father (I Samuel 8:3-5).

Saul’s leadership is characterised with failure despite initial success in defeating Israel’s enemies at the war front. He was an unstable leader who had a disposition towards hasty and impatient decisions. One such occurrence was in the face of the impeding battle against the Philistines, Israel’s perennial enemy. This story is recorded in 1 Samuel 13. With Samuel delaying the impatient and insecure king took duties that only a priest could perform. And that would begin his downward spiral.

 So unlike David below, Saul failed to demonstrate faith in God, faith which became the currency of David’s leadership. This is attested to by Wood (1979:127) “Saul failed to demonstrate adequate faith in God to wait for Samuel”. This resulted then in the first “serious rupture between Samuel and Saul… Samuel … informed him: ‘Now your kingdom shall not continue (vs14)” (Buttrick et al 1962:231). Such was the extravagant cost of Saul’s miscalculation as the king.

The half-heartedness in execution of the Amalekites campaign in 1 Samuel 15 cannot go unmentioned. This ‘incomplete obedience’ (Wood 1979:141) was incrementally costly. It puts Saul across as the disobedient leader of God’s people. Leaders were to be obedient to God who on whose behalf they governed.
 He failed the obedience test emphatically. “… Samuel regarded this act of the king as rank insubordination to the will of the Lord…” (Buttrick et al 1962:231). Unlike in the first instance of rebellion this second act of rebellion severed ties between the priest and the king permanently (1 Samuel 15:35). This led to the anointing of David as Saul’s successor to the throne (1 Samuel 16:1ff).
The ascendancy of David made the king to be increasingly paranoid and extremely insecure. Insecure leaders, as Saul demonstrates, are very dangerous and they can do anything to remove the sense of insecurity. He made several attempts on David’s life (1 Samuel 18:11; 18:25; 19:9-10; 19:11, 15; 20:31-33; 23:9 and 23:25-26). Like many leaders around, they will stop at nothing in amassing power and despotic power even if it means taking away someone’s life. Sanctity of life is subordinated to their oft selfish leadership ambitions. Such was the extent of the failure of Saul’s leadership.
Christian Leadership View on Management: A Biblical View
Buttrick and others (1962:231) are very emphatic in the pronunciation of this failed ‘leadership experiment’. They contend that “the attempt to combine the charismatic principle of leadership with a political kingdom thus ended up in failure.” Further, Anderson (1966:130) while highlighting the failures of Saul as a leader is a bit more sympathetic in his analysis of the situation. He posits that “the account of Saul’s reign in 1 Samuel 13-31 is the tragic story of a heroic leader who lived in the transitional period between the collapse of the old Tribal Confederacy and the birth of a new order.
” One needs therefore to be considerate with the negative criticism in view of those transitional factors Anderson alludes to above. One would then wonder where Israel as a nation would proceed from the ashes of failed leadership. This situation ushers into leadership prominence, David, who as we will see below would become a very successful leader of God’s people despite some of his weaknesses.
David will always be remembered for his heroics (or the heroics of his God) over Goliath. This victory over Goliath was one significant turning point that catapulted David into leadership limelight. David’s acceptance to fight Goliath in 1 Samuel 17v1ff was ‘an expression of heroic faith in God’ (Pfeiffer et al 427:2001) despite him facing a warrior with well-documented history of military training and achievements. 

This ‘heroic faith’ would later make him successful in his future military engagement. When the rest of the fighters saw a giant who had been a warrior from youth, they quaked with fear but David saw the insults of the giant as insult on God. For him to insult the Lord’s covenantal people was to insult God himself. 

He therefore goes to the battle with the confidence not in his own military prowess but in God who can delver. This God had delivered him in the past and would certainly delver him from this immediate challenge of Goliath. Faith in God was very key to David’s success as a leader and there are many other episodes in his life that can attest to this.

One cannot study the life of David especially his success as a king without looking at his loyalty to the throne and unwillingness to take matters into his hands. His life as a fugitive from Saul demonstrates his unflinching loyalty to the king despite the obvious threat to his life posed by the same throne he was loyal to. Saul as noted above is threatened by the fact that David became “the favourite son of the common people and of the court (1 Samuel 18:5). Hymns were composed by the singing women lauding his exploits beyond those of the king himself” (Pfeiffer et al 427:2001).

 Despite all this and various attempts by Saul to take his life (1 Samuel 18:11; 19:10) he did not retaliate. He remained the humble servant fiercely loyal to the king. He honoured God who had anointed Saul and was willing to wait for God’s time for his coronation. His friendship with Jonathan could not be taken for granted as well. Such was the lofty height of his loyalty to the throne. Great leaders are loyal leaders like David.

One significant thing about David was his reliance on God’s word. He sought God for direction. When he became a fugitive from Saul, he did not fight the king back but took flight to Samuel who had anointed him. Pfeiffer and others contend that he “needed to be reassured that God had a future for him in the scheme of national affairs”. 

This is not to doubt the Lord but to ensure that he was in the plan for God. Many leaders have failed in this regard. Most are prone to hasty actions as noted in the failed leadership of Saul above. Many other instances cited in scripture (1 Samuel 30:7-8; 1 Samuel 23:2; 23:4; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19; 5:23; 21:1) attest to this. One would like to note as Wood (1979:217) that despite having been anointed and confirmed as Saul’s successor David “still properly sought God’s will before moving to seek kingship”. That is very remarkable of this leader! David the leader was David the enquirer; he relied on the guidance of the Lord.

Strategy is one key strength in David’s leadership arsenal especially on the war front. This paper would like to make reference to his flight to the Philistine camp. His playing the madman and getting accepted among the Philistines. Such was the depth of his strategic prowess. As Pfeiffer and others (2001) his interaction with Philistine broadened his knowledge of the people and their military techniques. These would become handy in the latter battles with the Philistines, whom he often times routed in battle.

Again, the “Ziklag detour” or retreat in David’s political career was equally strategic in terms of building a constituency that would owe allegiance to him. Buttrick and others (1962:774) support this view when they posit that “The gathering of a host of followers owing allegiance to no one but himself now was about to pay off, for at Ziklag, he became the founder of a small dynasty which served to launch him on his further efforts to procure the throne of Israel”. Such was the strategic dexterity of this future king of Israel. Of course one cannot rule Divine providence in all this.
David’s success as a leader as noted in the above discussion was not accidental. While he had his own defects, any man would especially corrupted by power, he was by and large “a man after God’s own heart”. Pfeiffer and others (2001:429) hit the point in the clearest of terms when they posit that “The Jews of the later days looked back to David as the ideal king, and pictured as a second David the ruler of happy day for which they hoped”. Such nostalgic references to the heydays of the unified monarchy under the leadership of David are not misplaced; it demonstrates his successful leadership.
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