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Lead, follow, and get Christ out of the way!

Famous World War II (WWII) General George S. Patton is purported to have said, "Lead, follow, or get the [heck] out of the way!" Patton was not one to mince words, nor was he the type of person to suffer poor or incompetent leadership. Serving Patton was probably one of the most difficult things an Army staff officer could do in the 1940s; however, I bet it was also one of the most educational and growth-producing.

Leadership in today's church, like most things, varies from local church to local church and from Christian organization to Christian organization. I have witnessed some very good leaders in senior pastor and other strategic roles, and I have been in the presence of those for whom the word "leader" or "leadership" must be as foreign as the Bangladeshi word for "overabundance." Unfortunately, in my experience, those who fit the latter description far outnumber those who display commendable leadership qualities. The majority of churches and Christian organizations (colleges/universities, charities, etc.) are run by those whom Patton would most certainly scorn.

Why is this the case? I think the answer is simple: Christ has been removed from the equation in so many Christian circles. I have been a part of "Christian" organizations in the past where neither Christ nor any generalized version of God were invoked in meetings or considered in the strategic planning processes. On one occasion, I challenged a fellow leader on this point, and he simply brushed me off with a weak denial, a vain declaration of his strength of character, and a very angry look on his face. He knew I was right, but he couldn't bring himself to admit it.

Many contemporary leaders in the church have derived their own Pattonian declaration of leadership: "Lead, follow, and get Christ out of the way!" Naturally, with Christ out of the way, it is much easier to capitulate to worldly management gimmicks and secular definitions of success, and it is certainly much easier to justify wildly meteoric financial gain. Who wants to be inhibited by morality or Christ-like behavior? Forgo these constraints, and the world is one's oyster. Relegate Christ to nothing more than a moniker, catchphrase, or marketing slogan, and there's nothing to keep your organization from achieving as much or more than its secular competitors.

However, the discerning Christian quickly sees the error in this way of thinking. More significantly, Christ certainly sees the error in it! And if Patton did not suffer incompetent leadership in his Army, how much less do you think Christ will suffer it in his? We have a lot of work to do, my friends, and it starts with holding accountable those who are in church leadership now, and choosing better leaders in the future--men and women who are truly sold out to the cause of Christ vice their own selfish and often worldly pursuits. And, as was most likely the case with Patton's officers, those who serve in Christ's Army and submit to his leadership will no doubt be in for a highly educational and spiritually growth-producing ride!

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