He stole his brother's blessing and fled from his family
He was sold into slavery and then became 2nd to Pharaoh
She left everything she knew to follow her Mother-in-law to a new land
He tackled the 500 plus prophets of BAAL in the Ultimate Altar Challenge
She risked her very life by approaching her Kingly Husband to save Israel
He took on a huge army with just a few soldiers, trumpets, and crashing jars
She led an attack against Israel's enemies
She hammered a tent peg through the head of an arch enemy of Israel while he slept
He laid on his side for 390 days to prophesy against Israel's sin
He ate locust, honey, and dressed in camel's hair
She gave up reputation and became pregnant before marriage
And On and On...
These are all biblical leaders and their challenges are many. Being a leader is not an easy task. Those of us who have been born to be leaders or placed in leadership opportunities should take time to study these characters and work out not only our salvation, but our leadership with fear and trembling as well. I'm seeing a trend in churches these days. Churches all over America are numerically shrinking. And if you are leading an institutional church and trying to keep your body afloat, then this is adding pressure to your leadership. What I am seeing in my tradition is that we are in the midst of a transitional period for our particular congregations. Some would label the transition from conservative or traditional to progressive or liberal (I'm obviously not using the terms in their classical sense, but more in their common vernacular and even more so in the crowd I'm around).
The challenge for leaders with this particular situation is decision-making. If we make a decision for making a progressive change then we offend and maybe drive off those who have more conservative leanings. If we make a decision for keeping things as they are then we offend and maybe drive off those who have more progressive leanings. It is a catch-22. In institutions we tend to make decisions that will keep the peace and drive the fewest away or maybe decisions that won't drive those members who are the biggest financial supporters. I'm not saying that what I have described, describes all churches or all institutions, but I have talked with enough leaders around our nation and heard this topic treated at conferences that hosts leaders from all over the world to know that this is real in our world.
What do we do? Leadership is not a science as much as it is an art. Every situation is different and must be considered differently and treated with great artistic form. However, I think if we look at those in scripture who led under God and led his people we will find some crucial principles for leading today in our churches.
So let's look at some of these stories above (and maybe others) to see how leadership works, what the challenges are, and how God provides through it all. But first we should look at our ultimate leader: The Divine.