Paradoxical Christian Leadership

I was flown down to Cape Town to do two four-hour teachings to students at the African Leadership Institute for Community Transformation. I dreaded it and despised the fact that I have to go speak to strangers who consider themselves Christians, yet wanted to talk about conflict and vision buy-in. I was not excited and would not have said yes if my boss didn’t ask me to go. Nevertheless I went. Day one was good. Day two turned out to be electrifying. It was utterly unexpected.
I very seldom write religious blogs and these days I seldom do religious talks. In fact, I’m on a bit of a secular pilgrimage that employs downplay with the aim to purify and bring into focus the things from my childhood that I have lost. These are things of integrity, naivety, belief and goodness. I figured out that the only way for me to get closer to Christ, was to walk away from him. Jesus said we have to lose our life to find it, I believe the same applies to our faith. You have to lose it to get it.
The reason is simple, in that the faith we think we have is not the pure love of God, but a stained, coloured, dirty version of mixed up sentiments and dogmatic beliefs that hinder more than it helps. To say something smart, we first need to shut up. I have to daily place my beliefs and religion at His feet, acknowledging I don’t know shit. In the abandonment of knowing the answers and in the sacrifice of adherence to cheap shortcut rules (like not swearing), I find a rawness that provides enough texture for the Salt to take effect. My spiritual journey takes one step forward and two steps back. What I’m discovering is that that is appropriate, since I am supposed to go backwards and downwards; away from my cleverness and away from my ambitions.
Back to the second day in Wellington with the young Christian leaders. I tried to deconstruct the notion of leadership as influence, by opposing it to Sen’s idea of development as the freedom to choose. In that sense many ‘christian’ attempts to lead are not Christian at all, because to really love and respect someone we should assist them to make their own choices and thus develop. We should not be aiming to influence people towards buying into our vision. It is ironic that Christian ‘leaders’ get taught to lead and not to follow. There is a degree of glorious influence and leadership, but only if it is born from a following and a supporting. Jesus was so strong that he was weak. He ended up ridiculed and killed. Yet we struggle to draw such image into our definitions and praxis of leadership. I’m tempted to say screw leadership, because the word is tainted. And yes, if you are smart you would realise that my desire to say ‘fuck leadership’ is the same as my ascetic journey that denies the luxury of Christian talk. We have to walk away, in order to arrive at a radical rediscovery. Such discoveries cannot be read or learnt from others. It has to be walked.
By writing this blog on both Jesus and Leadership I undermine my own journey, I release my godly tension of insecure blindness and muteness. I engage in sweet temptation of analysis and I do this sin willingly and sober. Such is the strength of my carnal mind and wimpy ego.

One thought on “Paradoxical Christian Leadership”

  1. Over the weekend I watched the movie “The book of Eli” with Denzel Washington… your post would make a good added commentary to the movie. I find that the honesty liberating, especially when you mentioned “2 steps back”.

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