Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Coercing Leaders?

Leader Coercing…oxymoron isn’t it? I’ve been reading this book by Leighton Ford called Transforming Leadership. He examines the life of Jesus and how He lead and pulls out principles that can help us become great transformative leaders. Last night in class we were discussing several principles Peter Drucker had come up with for great leaders. We were split into small groups of 2-3 and assigned a certain principle to tackle. Well, our principle was, “If someone expresses interest you have an obligation to lead/help, but if one lacks interest you are under no obligation.” In simple language a friend and I say, “Move with the movers!” Meaning within everything, but more specifically the Christian journey and creating disciples, we are not obligated to pour ourselves into those who are uninterested. That is a Drucker principle, not a biblical quote. However, the principle itself is alluded to by certain things done in Jesus’ ministry. When the rich young ruler asks what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus answers by saying, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me (Luke 18:18-23).” There is never any indication that Jesus ran after the young man when he left. Jesus spoke the truth and was very aware that not everyone would accept it. Jesus chose to invest in those who wanted to be discipled. Look at the example of Peter. Peter was a disciple that got a lot wrong, he spoke before he thought, he based his view of Jesus on a human view sometimes. Peter wanted to learn though, he wanted to become what Jesus believed he could be. So we see Peter who just confessed openly that Jesus was the Messiah in one breathe and in the next was sharply confronted by Jesus to ,”get behind me Satan, you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns (Mark 8:27-33).” Peter was always trying, sometimes too hard, to follow Jesus and ultimately we can read in 1 & 2 Peter that he gained great knowledge and become the man Jesus wanted him to become. Jesus is a great example for moving with movers.
Naturally the question arose, “What about a leader coercing someone into doing something?” My immediate response is no true leader should ever coerce. By definition on dictionary.com, coercing is as follows:

–verb (used with object), -erced, -erc·ing.
1.to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, esp. without regard for individual desire or volition: They coerced him into signing the document.

2.to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion; exact: to coerce obedience.

3.to dominate or control, esp. by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.: The state is based on successfully coercing the individual.

No true leader within the will of God should ever coerce. We were asked to think of things within our local churches that pastors may try to coerce people into doing. Examples ranged from working in the nursery to attending a special service. The one that created the biggest discussion and uproar was tithing. One man made the comment that one time his pastor published in a bulletin those who had not tithed. There will be a separate blog about this issue, but the fact is that if any man or woman is trying to bully followers into anything then those followers should turn the other way, because Jesus never coerced and would never desire us to. If we are to be disciples and create disciples based upon His discipleship program with the 12 then we can never coerce. Try to reflect within yourself things you may be tempted to coerce people into doing, what are your motives in this? By leading we should be able to influence people to want to desire things that we desire. That is what Jesus did wasn’t it? I never wanted the things I do now until I began to become conformed into His image.

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