Peter Scazzero says that minimally transformed leaders lead minimally transformed lives – and I believe it!
I’ve spent the last ten years of my life in some form of dedicated study. First came an undergraduate degree, then most recently a masters, and in the coming years a PhD. And I didn’t choose school because I wanted more knowledge. I did it because I wanted to understand God, others, and to be a godly leader. I did it because I wanted to understand the beautiful, the ugly, the confusing, the heartbreaking, and the loving truths of this religion called Christianity. I did not, nor do I ever want to be, a minimally transformed leader.
I was hungry for understanding, an understanding that many of those around me were unable to give. And why were they unable to give it? Because they had not resolved in their heart that study mattered. They had not valued the history and struggle of Christianity nor valued the discussions on matters of importance nor able to engage in healthy dialogue around questions of the faith. Some did, but many didn’t. And I see it today among some who think they’ll just train people, but they have zero commitment to the careful study of God’s Word and at best sloppy self-leadership practices.
The mindset that we don’t need our Bible colleges or seminaries or places of Christian leadership development is a recipe for minimally transformed leaders who train other minimally transformed leaders. We NEED competent and committed leaders helping others who’ve resolved that study is an integral part of their leadership and personal development.
Ezra 7:10 (one of my most favourite verses) says this:
“For Ezra had set his heart (resolved) to study and interpret the Law of the LORD, and to practice it and teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
You see, a leader studies. A leader resolves in their heart that they will be committed to understanding. Leaders are not people engaged in study to simply know more. Leaders get that study leads to transformation. Exceptional leaders understand that their lives model a way for others and that any followers they have will only rise to the level of their teacher. How do you know if you are a leader? A leaders has followers..period.
Exceptional leaders get that careful study is about transformation. It’s about wrestling with the hard things. It’s about being will to go beyond the superficial or current trends to seek out the enduring truths and to hold wisely and carefully the tensions that exist in the mysteries of God, leadership, and this faith journey that every Christian is called to.
Exceptional leaders long to be shaped by their studies so in turn everything that God entrusts to them will also be shaped and bear good fruit. They are leaders who want to influence and assist in advancing God’s Kingdom.
They study so they can live differently – to practice it means to live it. Essentially, that means a transformed life. Then, out of their own transformed life, they teach God’s truth to others.
Study leads to understanding. Understanding leads to wisdom. Wisdom leads to better choices. Better choices lead to transformation.
And as leaders who understand the value of transformation and who should understand the value of good leadership, it is a selfish thing on our part to discourage people from attending a Bible college or seminary or any form of Christian leadership development. Generally speaking, those who are teaching in accredited Bible colleges or seminaries are women and men who’ve resolved in their heart to study deeply, to live what they know to be true (yes, they make mistakes), and to help those in their care to grow in their understanding so that they, too, can live and lead transformationally. It’s a multiplying effect and, as my wise boss says, “there’s no greater investment of kingdom dollars than investing in the leaders of the kingdom.” (Or something like that!)
A failure to engage in meaningful study is a failure to lead transformationally.
This post may cause some uproar among some, and I’m okay with that – sometimes we need a good challenge and reminder.
I was once challenged with this question: Carmen, what kind of leader do you want to be? A leader with shallow wells who will burn out quickly and have nothing to offer others or a leader with deeps with from whom people can continue to drink?
I choose deep wells…always! And I am absolutely convinced that deeps wells are cultivated, at least in large part, by a heart that’s resolved to study.
What kind of leader do you want to be?