Ordinary. Nobody wants to be ordinary. It goes against the grain of most leaders I know to be content with being ordinary. No, quite the opposite seems to be the goal and dream of most. The goal is to be extraordinary. To do more than most, be more than most, and be recognized more than most. And that creates a dangerous leadership temptation and struggle.
In the pursuit of the extraordinary too many Christian leaders today fall prey to the temptation or the worldly desire to be “god-like” in their leadership.
I can do it all.
I can fix it all.
I can solve every problem.
I can accomplish everything I set out do.
There is nothing that is beyond my skills, abilities, and leadership.
I can be everywhere all at once.
There is no meeting I can’t make.
There is no event that I will not attend.
Time is not a barrier.
I will make time.
There is no answer I do not know.
Every idea and thought is the right idea and thought.
I know what others think before they even say a word…
I am 3 steps ahead of everyone.
My understanding, perception, intuition, insight, discernment, and wisdom is without peer.
But in Jesus, we see a model, “Christ-likeness” that we as mere mortals can pursue.
Jesus was Limited, Local, and a Learner.
Jesus’ incarnation was the embrace, the embodiment of limitation. Jesus emptied himself of “God-like” power and also emptied himself of the desire to pursue and grasp it. No, Jesus knew limitations in his power were part of his calling.
Throughout the Gospels, you see Jesus again and again not taking to himself “god-like” omnipotence, but walking in loving limitation through the lives he encountered. Let us be clear, this is not saying that Jesus was not divine. Jesus was. But, did he take every problem, remove every pain, solve every issue? No. And neither should you. Jesus understood his calling clearly enough to embrace the limitations of that came with it and so should you.
There is a simple truth about being somewhere. The choice to be in one place excludes the possibility of being everywhere else.
During Jesus’ time on Earth, he was in a location at a time. He was localized. He was in one synagogue, one home, one city, one mountain top, one boat, and dusty road at a time. The Incarnation was a limitation. Jesus was local. Jesus was not everywhere, he was somewhere, one somewhere at a time.
There is only so much a leader can know or should even try to understand. The impulse to know all is often attached to our desire to be seen as smarter than others. The temptation is to see others as ordinary but to view ourselves as extraordinary in knowledge and intelligence. It is we who have the right answers to any question asked.
Jesus loved to ask questions. Do you? Or, are you just a set of answers looking for a question.
We are not alone in this impulse. Job’s friends acted much the same way.
Growing is learning. Jesus grew as a child in wisdom because he was learning. Jesus is taught a skill from his earthly father. He learns. Jesus does not know the timing of his return set by his heavenly Father. Even this is something Jesus will have to learn. Jesus demonstrates limitation.
We as leaders can embrace these realities, realities demonstrated by an incarnated embodied Jesus, or we can pursue “god-likeness” to our peril.
The “god-like” leaders will ask themselves “What is it that I WILL DO?” But the “Christ-like” leader will ask “What have I been called and commissioned to do?” That calling comes with an understanding of our human limitations. No calling from God will assume that we are Omnipotent, Omnipresent, or Omniscient. It will assume that we can accomplish our mission, just as Jesus did, by being Limited, Local, and Learner
It is dangerous when leaders endeavor to lead in ways that God never intended for us. They are often compelled to act “god-like” in means and wield “god-like” power over those they lead…and so be corrupted.
Too many leaders are letting too many people tell them to do too many things they are not called to do. Too many leaders do that which they were never called to do in search of success or admiration they were never meant to have. In the pursuit of serving Christ, let us never succumb to the temptation to be more than “Christ-like.”
A leader doesn’t need to repent that they could not be everywhere, know everything, do it all or fix it all…they need to repent that they thought they could and tried.