Tuesday, January 21, 2003


No one leader is sufficient to direct a congregation, George Barna asserts in his latest study. Barna finds four different type of leader, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, in both leadership style and personal character:
The Christian Leader Profile(tm) categorizes leaders into one of four types: Directing, Strategic, Team-Building or Operational, based on the notion that every leader is incomplete in his/her skills and abilities and must therefore partner with leaders who have complementary capabilities. The Profile data indicate that these different types of leaders also have different challenges in the area of character.

Barna found that generational differences was a strong difference maker when it came to the various leadership styles. Older leaders, for example (and unsurprisingly), show greater faith maturity.But ultimately each style is incomplete:
Directing leaders, who tend to be the "big picture," motivational leaders who focus people's attention on vision for the future, are most likely to exhibit biblical values. However, they are more likely than others to struggle with servanthood and exhibiting a loving heart. They are the rivers of the organization, but sometimes lose sight of the fact that their aggressiveness and zeal for the vision may hurt some of the very people they wish to help.

Strategic leaders are those who analyze information, evaluate options and recommend the most effective courses of action. They are the strongest types of leaders when it comes to faith maturity and exhibiting biblical wisdom. However, they are most prone to difficulties with their temper and speech. They become so passionate about the paths they have discovered that they may lose patience with people who hold different opinions or who fail to understand why the path the Strategic leader suggests makes the most sense.

Team-Building leaders focus on mobilizing people around the vision, using people's gifts and abilities to maximize productivity. While they do not outshine their fellow leaders in any particular character quality, they are most likely to have trouble teaching effectively. They are highly relational and able to get people excited about their role in pursuing the vision, but they are often ineffective communicators of transformational or strategic principles.

Operational leaders develop systems to facilitate the efficient and effective flow and continuity of the organization's activity. While these leaders did not emerge as having a particular strength, they were notably weaker than their colleagues in the areas of temper, godly demeanor (e.g., being pleasant and respectful), servanthood and teaching ability. It appears that their focus on making the process work sometimes causes them to become overtly frustrated with the efforts of others.

What this demonstrates is the wisdom of the Biblical leadership pattern of congregations being directed by a plurality of qualified elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-9) rather than by a single individual. The latter can lead to a dictatorship or a personality cult. As Barna shows, it will certainly lead to an imbalance in the leadership style. There is only One who can be the Shepherd; that's why each congregation must have its shepherds. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

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