Desire-led Leadership

Desire-led Leadership

Among other things, I have been looking at:

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  • Current church styles that are expressed through different denominations and movements that are active in our generation
  • Different types of leadership style that are recorded in church history, both in the early church in Acts and the church that has functioned in the last few generations.
  • Different cultural ones – how men and women choose to lead the church in countries like Africa and America. One of the immediate observations that I make is that people in these continents both seem to put bigger emphasis on titles and position enforcement more than we seem to do in the UK. I am not saying one is right and another wrong, I am just trying to highlight how leadership can look very different and have different styles in different places and locations.
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    [heading size=3 style=alt]What is right?[/heading]

    When we begin to dare to ask these sorts of questions with a heart that desires to know what is right, it leaves you with a decision to make what’s right when it comes to leadership style? What does right leadership look and sound like?

    One answer to me would be that right leadership is effective leadership. Is the leadership style that is being used effective? Is it leading people effectively? Is it producing good things?

    Another thought that I have, which I believe should be a foundational absolute, is that we know that the greatest call on our lives as believers is to be Christ-like in every area of our lives, so that when it comes leading people and our style of leading that too should naturally be based on a Christ-like model more than on anyone or anything else that has inspired us.

    There are many great leaders at large today, both within church life and indeed within the secular world: leaders of great proficiency and influence. So among other things that I have been considering regarding leadership style, I am making sure that I am taking leadership back to how Jesus modelled it in the Gospels, to learn some things, check some things out and so on.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]My main observation[/heading]

    The one lesson that really stood out as I looked at Jesus leading people was that people followed His leadership because they desired to, and not because they felt obliged – a big difference! He did not lead people using threats of hell or guilt trips. He never created in people a sense of negative obligation but what He did do was inspire desire. His leadership style was a lot more relaxed than some I have seen today – it was very relational and gave people choice. In doing so, it ensured that the motive remained pure and right in the heart of His followers.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]Jesus’ leadership style[/heading]

    This may be a bit too honest for some but it is how I believe it would have probably looked. Picture it: the day is dawning on a Sunday morning in Israel. The campfire from the night before flickers with the last few remaining embers and the team is stirring. Jesus, too, awakes from His most peaceful sleep. They stretch, get washed, have some breakfast and then Jesus turns to His team and says, “Well, I am going this way. Who is coming?”

    I believe that was pretty much what it looked like. He let them know what He was doing next and left them with the option to come with Him or not. When I look closely at the way He led His disciples (dream team) I don’t find any dictatorial or unfair demands, or guilt trips or subliminal threats of hell; He actually gave them the opportunity to leave, if they wished.

    Look at the classic moment where He preaches His ‘eat my body and drink my blood’ message: that was a real crowd thinner! Look at what He says to His disciples as the people are running for the hills.


    I believe that Jesus modeled a life that had an open front door, where all were welcome, and also an open back door, which meant that people did not have to stay. This ensured that those who were with Him were really with Him and were there for the right reasons. What I see is people following Him whose hearts He had caught.

    Don’t hear what I am not saying. I believe in Ephesians 4 and all that; I believe in gifts given to men and the offices of ministry, and in the titles given to men to lead in the house, etc. But I also think we need to get the original blueprint on the table so we can interpret it correctly. To me, the original blueprint that makes Ephesians 4 make sense, is Jesus.

    On the Ephesians 4 note I do personally believe that titles are functional and should not be used to make people do things, but rather to let people know what they can expect from you.

    My conclusion is that I don’t want a leadership style that is: an Edwardian or Victorian one; an American, English or African one; one built on insecurity or fear. I want a leadership style that is effective but, firstly, Christ-like. Jesus led His team by inspiring desire in His disciples – He won their hearts, and that is how we should lead our teams too.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]David’s leadership[/heading]

    We also see this style of leadership in the life of an Old Testament man – a man who is, in fact, in the genealogy of Jesus. This man, of course, is David.

    David had a group of men that followed him unobligingly. We know these men as the mighty men of David. As you will see when we read the next section of verses, they were indeed mighty men – the type of people that every minister would want with them on staff. The truth is you do not attract this type of worker with an insecure or dictatorial style of leadership: you attract them and keep them by ‘catching their hearts’.

    Look at the glue that kept his team with him:


    Let’s look at the quality of these men.

    [heading size=4 style=alt]Adino[/heading]

    This man killed eight hundred men in one sitting. I need Adinos not to kill men, obviously, but I need people who can kill 800 problems at once.

    [heading size=4 style=alt]Eleazar[/heading]

    When others retreated he stayed until the job was done. This is the type of person who does not leave your office or their responsibility until the job is done, even though others do. This type of person fights with you so hard that what they do gets stuck to them.

    [heading size=4 style=alt]Shammah[/heading]

    He stationed himself to protect the lentil field. This guy did not need to be seen; he was happy to look after the supplies. He knew that having no lentils would mean having no strong soldiers. We need people who do not mind doing what others won’t do, and who do it with a passion.

    Look at what they would do for their leader:


    Think about the risk they would face for Him, unasked – what causes a person to do that?

    Both Jesus and David had people who would risk all and give their lives for them, but they never forced anyone to do anything. Desire-based followers go beyond what they are asked to do.

    How did they attract and build such dream teams? They created desire in their followers. How do we do that?

    Here are four of the ingredients they both used and that still work today.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]1) Impart vision[/heading]

    We need to be giving our followers something to follow. Jesus started His relationship with the fishermen by casting vision at them for a life that was bigger than what they were living: “Come with me and I will make you fishers of men.”

    Proverbs 29 says that without vision people perish. One dictionary defines the word perish this way: to merely exist. Mighty men don’t want to live in the cycles of mere existence, they want to make a difference with their lives; they want to live even die for something that has significance.

    We should give them more than vision – we should give them a cause. Jesus said, “For this cause I was born”. David, too, gave his warriors a cause to fight for.

    We should ever be casting vision to our teams and to the individuals that make up the teams. Give them vision for their lives, marriages, finance – in fact, for every part of who they are.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]2) Have integrity[/heading]

    They both modeled follow through: even when it was extreme they always did what they said they would do.

    Follow through – even if it does not work sometimes, people will follow someone who will have a go.

    When it comes to leaders, we must lead from the front. Jesus and David were out front leading their teams. Let the people know that you don’t mind going where you are asking them to go.

    He did what He said He would. For Jesus, that meant a brutal death on a painful cross.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]3) Display courage[/heading]

    Both Jesus and David modeled incredible courage – a no-back-down attitude.

    Both had loads of faith and ‘faith takes courage’. Both did things that made people drop their jaws.

    Attempt things in God that make people breathe in.

    For David it was taking on Goliath; for Jesus it was going to the cross.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]4) Live passionately[/heading]

    They were both people of passion. Passion is contagious – people are drawn to it, and people love to follow it.

    A great picture of a passionate leader is the one of King David as a leader dancing out front as they brought the Ark of the Covenant back into the city. He led the whole operation with incredible passion, and I believe that this was how he lived his whole life. He was a passionate, worshipping warrior.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]Saul and David exhibit a great contrast of leadership styles[/heading]

    Saul led with insecurity, creating legalism and obligation in his followers, while David was positioned and empowered by his knowledge of grace and covenant, and he created within his leaders desire to such a degree that they would risk their lives for him.

    People will follow us too, if we dare to put off man-made garments threaded with insecurity and control, and wear Christ-likeness – catching people’s hearts with common cause.

    [heading size=3 style=alt]Desire should be the root of all things Christian[/heading]

    Everything about Christianity should be about desire – when we give, serve or worship it should never come from a place of feeling obliged, rather from a place of pure desire.

    Lead our people to base what they do and don’t do on desire: it will bring long-term success.

    Desire is a heart connection – we need to win their hearts, not their guilt or pity.

    God bless, lead well.

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