Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Benefits of Shared Leadership

I have become convinced over the years that the most biblical form of church leadership is that of a plurality of elders. A group of godly men, who are equal in status and authority. I shared yesterday just a few of the Biblical texts that speak towards this structure of church leadership. Today, I wanted to share just a few of the practical benefits from it as well. In his book Biblical Leadership, Alexander Strauch, gives several reasons why a shared leadership model is very practical.

It Helps To Balance People's Weaknesses
Every person has blind spots they are unable to see. Every person has weaknesses that can deceive and eventually destroy them. Therefore, it works well when leadership decisions are made by a group of men who can come alongside each other to balance those potential weaknesses. 

For instance, among our elders, there are some who are quick decision guys and others who are process guys. The process minded individuals help balance and ensure that decisions are cautiously thought through before moving forward. But the decision guys ensure that decisions are actually made in a timely manner. There are others who tend to be harsher in their dealings with people and are balanced by those with more grace. There are some who lean toward being fearful of men and are balanced by those not afraid to confront sin in the life of others. It appears obvious that we need to be balanced, particularly in leadership.

It Helps To Provide Accountability
I am sure you have heard it said before that "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." But a shared leadership model ensures that no one person holds too much power. It is the only form of leadership that creates a culture that helps a sinner defer the glory. In way too many churches, one pastor or leader often has too much power. It often begins when the people of the church become indifferent to the work of the ministry because they are simply too busy. Therefore, the church administration is left largely into the hands of that one leader. This is not good for him or the church. It makes it very easy for the pastor to build himself up into a dictatorial position and cater to his desire for glory.

But the process Christ has designed keeps a man from seeking his own glory because there are several other men who are equal in authority with him. The checks and balances this provides helps ensure that Jesus in fact is the only one to whom the glory belongs.

It Helps To Lighten The Work Load
The more qualified elders a church might have, the more help it will bring to lighten the work load of the ministry. Moses had this problem. He tried to do everything himself and it caused him to want to die. But God's solution was to divide the work load among several qualified men (Numbers 11:14-17). Solomon said that two are better than one and that a cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

The extra help in the ministry of the church ensures that one person is not having to do everything. When he does it all, he ends up serving outside of how the Lord has gifted him. A plurality of eldership allows each shepherd to function primarily according to the personal giftedness rather than being forced to do everything and then being criticized for not being multi-gifted.

I am sure there are more examples of why a shared leadership model is more beneficial in the life of the church. Can you think of any? I would love to hear what you think.

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