What’s Your Payoff for Leadership?

July 23, 2013

Tuesday Re-mix –

I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace…I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’  Acts 20:23-24, 33-35

match-thermometerThere are surely thousands and thousands of possible reasons people choose to be a church leader.  Money is probably not one of them.  Oh, I know there are those few high profile ministers (particularly in evangelical circles) who have profited tremendously, but let’s be real, that is by far the exception, not the expectation.  Rather, there are other kinds of “payoffs” which I believe attract some people into leadership positions in ministry.  Some of us just like to be in charge.  We like the power which comes with being the leader.  We like to chart the course and then expect those who are following to, well, follow.  For others, it is just the attention alone which draws them in.  They are otherwise lonely people and the “payoff” for them is the “friends” who gather around them as leaders.  Still others choose leadership by default, because they just cannot handle following.  They ascribe to the philosophy: “He who refuses to lead is doomed to be led by someone lesser than himself.”

As I read Paul’s farewell comments to the Ephesian church elders (Acts 20), I am struck by the total lack of payoff for him.  I mean, there was no sense of entitlement on his part, no attitude of having earned anything at all by his leadership.  Paul’s model for leadership is really very simple…you give and you give and you give until you cannot give any more…and then you give some more.  In Paul’s mind, leadership is about using yourself up for the benefit of others.  It means burning the candle at both ends all day long and going to bed exhausted and then getting up and doing it all over again.  I cannot help but wonder if this is why young John Mark didn’t last long through their first missionary journey.  Leading with Paul was just exhausting!

Searching through his letters, there really is no evidence of any other “payoff” for him except for God’s pleasure.  There is nothing there to indicate some twisted emotional return for him.  Though his leadership was strong, even assertive, there is nothing in scripture to indicate any over-aggression or power plays on his part.  Paul seems to have been driven purely by a profound desire to know Christ better and to rely more and more on the Lord for direction and strength and vision and courage.  Paul never seems to have complained that he was not being paid enough or that he was not treated well enough.  He neither whined nor complained that people owed him more respect than he was getting.  He just gave of himself, day in and day out.  Paul was just the “Eveready Bunny” of leadership…he just kept giving and giving and giving.

I know a few pastors and church leaders like that.  I am grateful for their generous giving of themselves for the benefit of others.  I am happy to say that my pastor leads this way.  I love him for that.  Do you know any church leaders like that?  More importantly, do the people you lead know any church leaders like that?

© Blake Coffee
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3 thoughts on “What’s Your Payoff for Leadership?

  1. Barry Nelson

    Great post. Very fitting for the reality of ministry. The mission of our family of churches in Canada (CNBC) is: “We are churches in covenant giving ourselves away to advance the Kingdom of
    God.” p.s. – Energizer. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Pingback: What’s Your Payoff for Church Leadership? | Christianity 201

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