Paradoxical Leadership

Dan Allender, in his book, Leading with a Limp, asks a question,

“Is living out the gospel in this world meant to be marked by an inverted, paradoxical, mysterious twist on what most people expect of a leader?”

He answers with a resounding “yes,” saying that the paradox of biblical leadership is that the chief leader must be the chief sinner, just like Paul. Allender says, “You must choose to adopt that identity for yourself.” Hmmm… Two things come to mind.

One, leading out of weakness and need is counter-intuitive and, therefore, must be a chosen path. It is not natural. Being strong, able, powerful and influential is natural. Today, as I lead, I must choose to know myself as a sheep among sheep, and an under-shepherd of the Ultimate Shepherd.

Two, the only way to make this choice to consciously lead as a needy sinner is to have an even greater Savior. He is the strong, able and powerful one whom I am to follow as a leader. When Jesus, rather than my status as a leader, is my righteousness, then I am able to be a paradoxical leader. I am able to admit when I am wrong, give credit to others, show appreciation for the contributions of potential rivals, and wash the feet of my critics. I suppose, in a nutshell, biblical leadership is about living out the implications of the gospel in a way that moves others to consider the power and glory of God’s grace.