Leadership’s telling and showing is missing from most churches

By Ronald E. Keener

There must be a new book on leadership every week. But Jeremie Kubicek says his book, Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It (Howard Books, 2011) is different. “Most leadership books discuss principles or how-tos around improving capabilities.

My book deals with the capacity issue or what truly limits leaders or makes them mediocre by focusing on the nemesis of self-preservation. It is a fresh perspective in learning how to lead oneself and then beginning to see leadership is a vehicle for influence, not the end goal,” he says.

Kubicek is president and CEO of GiANT Impact, and is an entrepreneur who has built world-class brands and events to serve influencers around the world. He lives in Johns Creek, GA, and responded to questions from Church Executive:

What is wrong with leadership, or leadership development, within the church?

I believe the church has lost the apprenticeship mindset based on following first. Jesus was a great follower, which made him a great leader. The church grew out of apprenticing others based on the process found in Matthew 10. We have replaced apprenticeship with mentorship, a less effective way to train others.

Jesus trained the disciples to tell others that the kingdom of heaven was near and then show people by healing, casting out and raising up. The telling and showing were as essential as Jesus training the disciples on handling the authority and power. That seems to be missing in most churches as the emphasis tends to skew towards the Sunday service or the church programs rather than on equipping the people to do the work.

Is leadership dead in the church too?

Leadership is dead or alive in every leader, in the church or not. It is dead when the focus is on preserving a person’s ego, reputation, salary, etc. — when leadership is focused on the leader. It is alive when leadership is used to influence or impact others for the person’s best interest; leadership is alive when you give it away.

What takes its place? Influence? How so?

Leadership is influence. Influence is power. It is how you handle the power, whether you empower or overpower, which determines the wake of your leadership. When you overpower, you may have authority, but not a positive impact and so your influence withers and dies. When you empower, your influence grows because you become significant in others’ lives. The decision point lies in your agenda or intent for using your power.

Where in the church is leadership being taught well with parishioners?

I really like what the 3DM organization is doing, led by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram. I believe they are training leaders in the correct way, similar to the advice Jesse gave Moses about his leadership.

When church leaders equip others to advance the kingdom by aligning a person to their roles and their gifts and tie it in to the entire body, they are doing it right. The reason it rarely happens is that it is hard work and much easier to gather people to one big weekend event and serve them with general teaching. That is why most parishioners have atrophied; they are not being trained to use their muscles for the kingdom, but rather to volunteer to run the programs of the church.

It seems like many church staffs prefer to be the ones to lead, that they want parishioners to be followers. What does it mean to really actualize this concept in a megachurch?

Most megachurches are set up to be mini-kingdoms. The programs of the church extend to be like castle walls. The attendees are like serfs. Serfs pay a percentage to enjoy the blessings of the castle and rule of the king. For that percentage they get the use of the facility and of the program and hail the king as their leader. The operating system of the megachurch is the church itself.

Jesus made it clear that discipleship was the operating system and he didn’t set up mini-kingdoms. Instead, the disciples were routinely scattered to continue to expand the true kingdom, not the mini-kingdoms.


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