Part 1 (Read Part 2 here)
“It is amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.” – John Wooden
I have recently been (re)reading “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Which, as an aside, in only 12 short years of publication has become somewhat of a seminal work in leadership circles. Collins raises up the idea of a Level 5 leader, which he describes as, “[One who] builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and and professional will” (Collins, 20).
What stuck with me is that organizations that made the good to great leap were not lead by charismatic, larger-than-life types, but tended to be, in Collins’ words, rather “ordinary.” The distinguishing factor was instead a burning desire to see the organization succeed. He adds:
Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious-but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.
I’ve often wondered how Collins’ work translates into the life of the local church, and I think this point is one of the more easily transferable principles. After all, proclaiming the inbreaking of the kingdom of God here on earth means acknowledging that I am not the king. And I really fancy myself as a king sometimes. (Don’t judge me, you know you’ve thought about it too.) But it’s not all about me. As much as I like to be the center of attention, I must always remember that my primary role as a follower of Jesus is to serve- to love God and love others. “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many,” says Jesus (Matthew 20:28).
So what would it look like if we, as church leaders, channeled all of our ambition first and foremost into building up the kingdom of God? I think it would look like us not caring who gets the credit as long as the kingdom is advancing. On second thought, I think it would look like us giving God the credit when the kingdom advances here on earth. Don’t get me wrong, we should be doing our part to be the best (ordinary) leaders we can be. But we should not be working for jewels in our crown. Instead, we should be taking off our crowns and placing them at the feet of the King.
“If we take credit for things God’s doing, we’ll be prides debtor; if we take pride in what God’s doing, we’ll be grateful.” – Bob Goff