I want to be a better leader. I want to grow in my leadership so that the lives around me are better. This is a good goal. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. In fact, I hope everyone would seek to be a better leader.
But there is one subtle trap that reading books about leadership, attending leadership conferences, or classes (which I’m in right now) can create. And it’s this: we can trust the technique rather than God.
Now if you’re not a Christian feel free to skip the rest of this, because this is definitively a Christian problem. And here it is. When we read about a leadership technique, skill, or ability we start to implicitly believe that if we follow that technique good things will happen. What can subtly happen is that we start trusting more in leadership experts to deliver the right techniques to bring success, rather than trusting in the faithfulness of God.
The writers in a new book, The New Parish, put it this way, “Technique wants your trust, even at the expense of your trust in God”. And this is true. Whenever we believe that following a technique, method, or practice will bring us success more than following Jesus – we’ve created an idol. And in today’s day and age (especially in the pastor world) there is no bigger idol than leadership. That if we bow to the feet of leadership gurus our churches, lives, and careers will become more successful.
Now take this all with a grain of salt, as I am currently reading 3 leadership books, and enrolled in a leadership class online. So I’m not against leadership. What I am against is anything replacing or capturing my attention more than God, and for many of us it can be the practice or technique of leadership.
All I’m saying is this: leadership techniques matter, but listening to God matters most. And getting that order right is often the difference between learning about leadership, and demonstrating it.