The Stewardship of Leadership
The Stewardship of Leadership
Keith Tucci, NRP Apostolic Team Leader
There seems to be something in our culture that suggests that if a person has attained much or accomplished much (even if it is just in their own eyes), then they have earned the right to be reckless or inconsiderate in their speech. When I say inconsiderate, I mean they do not give consideration of the effect their speech will have on those who hear. To apply consideration requires a degree of maturity and even discernment at times.
Jesus spoke things to His disciples that He did not speak to the crowd. He had discernment. He was the wisdom of God in flesh. As a leader, we constantly provoke those looking to us for direction to get alone with God to hear what He might say to them in private (that perhaps He may not choose to speak to them in public).
One of the ancient rules for public speaking is “know your audience.” When I meet with church leaders, there are things I will say or even teach from the scripture that I would not do on a Sunday morning. The reason is that some of those lessons or discussions would require too much backstory and contextual definition to give the average hearer any appreciation for what’s being said. Without proper reference, a person could easily be confused, misdirected, or unwittingly offended.
When I am asked to interview prospective leaders or elders, I always remind them of two things:
1. Their voice will be amplified. When they say something, it will have greater volume than the next guy. When a leader tells someone they will consider their idea, often the hearer feels they like they have just received a promise.
2. They must be keenly aware that they no longer speak for themselves--they represent their church and leadership. They are perceived as always representing the Lord. Part of leadership stewardship is surrendering the privilege of autonomy.
I am not suggesting in any way that we cave into any type of political correctness or fear of being forthright. On the contrary; we must give great thought to what needs to be said with the goal of being heard and not just the privilege of speaking and venting in public. Almost every week, I stand in another man’s pulpit--what my pastor called the sacred desk. I have earnestly attempted to consider the things that I am sharing with you now and to act accordingly. My calling is to build the Church, not divide or confuse it.
There have been times I have been asked to address controversial issues that a given congregation may be grappling with. In those situations, I attempt to remind the leaders of the seriousness of the moment in regard to the possible effects of what will be shared. I believe this is necessary to go forward in a positive manner, even on a muddy road. There are, of course, occasions when something needs to be said that requires extra diligence to speak clearly from the scriptures and not our own animus. Fear of rejection or loss of constituency is not a valid gauge for a man or woman of God. Giving consideration to who is listening and the best possible way to speak the truth is maturity, not compromise. Those who do not grasp or understand this concept will wear their reckless and inconsiderate statements as a badge of honor.
A visible case in point has been President Trump. I consider him to be a great leader, who did exactly as he promised and, at times, inspired us with great speeches of principled and courageous leadership. There were many other times we cringed--not because we necessarily disagreed with what he said, but we understood that it could have been said in a better way that would have given people who may be opposed or needed to be better informed a greater appreciation for the point he was trying to make. Sometimes things were said that just simply were reckless. We may have even smirked or chuckled a little--at least I will confess I did. As time went on, it was easy to see he was giving those who opposed him ammunition to use against him.
I’ve seen many leaders limit, rather than expand, their influence for the shallow prize of getting things off their chest. The heart of a godly leader is to consider those who have labored and sacrificed in order to give them the platform they have and, thus, honor their position by being considerate and focused. Today we have a whole sector of people who very much applauded President Trump’s agenda, yet are disappointed that the president did not use more discretion in his speech.
While it’s true we cannot live in our offenses, it’s also true that the Bible says, “Woe to him who causes the offense.” Most assuredly, in days to come, in order to be true to Heaven, we will have to teach and declare some things that could, in fact, stir waters which we would prefer to leave calm. In the days to come, we will need to teach, and not just announce or make critical declarations. If our desire is to be heard, we will give thoughtful consideration to how to make our message clear and compelling.
Let’s embrace the stewardship of leadership with a greater appreciation of how needed our voice is. Let us not give any quarter to fear and political correctness. Let’s be those who study to show ourselves approved, accurately handling God's Word.