In Kerusso’s vision, we exist to develop Christ-centered leaders in order to reach the unreached. Recently, I realized that I have never properly defined or described the concepts of Christ-centered leadership. In the next few blogs, I will start the process of defining and describing this critical piece of the vision and mission of Kerusso. The first step is describing the transformation from a wordly to Christ-centered leader.
In leadership, maturity is crucial to success. Whether a person is leading a family, business, church or small group, the challenge is for a Christian leader to transform from the influences of the world and to live a Christ-centered life. The change process is over time, but the end result of the transformation is to be the image of Christ. The Apostle Paul writes about this change process in one of his epistles.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)
Paul’s change process is critical for Christian leaders to understand. The pressure of the world to lead in a certain characteristic is constantly a challenge for the Christian leader. For Paul’s change process to become a reality, there is a human transformation, a resistance to the transformation, and then an outcome of the transformation. Today, we will explore the human transformation of the Christ-centered leader.
Two highly acclaimed books on change and transformation, Conner (2006) and Kotter (2012), describe a similar change process with Paul’s thought process in his letter to the Church of Philippi. Kotter (2012) shows “the first step in a major transformation is to alter the norms and values” (p.164). For Paul, the first step is to also change the Christian leader’s norms and values. The process is to stop acting like infants and grow up into mature adults.
Other parts of the Bible also make the analogy of transforming from an infant to adult. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14).
The problem is “human transformation is too complex to be described by a set of rigid laws” (Conner, 2006, p.10). According to Conner (2006), the change process goes through a present state, transition stated, and desired state. Paul gives the present state the name infant. During this present state, the leader is focused on self-ambition. Other parts of the New Testament warn Christian leaders about ambition. James writes, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:16-17)
Throughout the Christian leaders’ transformation from present to desired state, the waves and winds of teachings are abundant. This is especially true in leadership where there are over 200 definitions of leadership. A Christian leader can walk into any bookstore and see hundreds of descriptive leadership books that promise success if you follow their steps. A vital step in the human transformation of a Christian leader is to discern which teaching aligns with the Word of God. Christian leaders have to understand their leadership is situational according to the calling God has in their life. During their transformation, the change process is centered on the ability to decipher the context of the type of leader God desires them to be in their situation. During the infant years, the leader follows the world’s teachings, which included a large dose of narcissism. The transformation from infant to mature believer is a painful process.
What helps a Christian leader transform from selfish ambition to a desired state of godly wisdom? In order to morph into a mature spiritual leader, there is pain involved. The pain is associated with dying to self and living for Christ. Although these actions are painful, the transition from world to Christ-centered leadership is sacrifice. This action turns from a desire to be served into a desire to serve. This model of Jesus turns the worldly view of leadership upside down. Because of the painful process in the transformation, there will be resistance to change. In the next blog, I will detail the resistance to becoming a Christ-centered leader.