If You Are Called to Be a Leader…

This comes from a much larger post (here) that was part of series Carl Trueman has been writing about the contemporary church. Much here that stirs my heart:

5. If you are called to be a leader, then be a leader, not a statesman.

The church is full of men who want positions of prestige, profile and responsibility, but who do not want to take the tough stands that such positions demand.  It is easy to defend the faith in front of an audience of six hundred adoring fans at a conference; it is not so easy to stand for principle in a room full of two dozen indifferent or hostile colleagues.  Sorry – if you want the position of responsibility, then silence on the hard issues in the hostile context is not an option.

Further, if there is one thing worse than the minister who talks a good game to his fan base but is as much use as a chocolate spanner in a conflict, it is the professional statesman.  This is the patrician figure who makes a career out of triangulating in debates, often doing so by setting the alleged poor theology of one side against the alleged bad attitude of the other in a kind of moral equivalence.  This then allows him to justify not taking sides and to rise above the fray.  No doubt as he goes bed each night, he thanks God that he is not like other men, for he has clean hands and finely manicured nails, unlike the troublers of Israel around him; but, as I have said before on Ref21, he can only sleep peacefully at night because many of those same troublers of Israel have broken their nails and bloodied their fists in making the streets outside his house safe for women and children.

In fact, true statesmen earn the right to be statesmen by first of all leading their people through battles and conflicts.  Think of Athanasius, of Luther, of Chalmers, of Machen – all risked everything they had, and were targets of the harshest disdain even from within the church, but they stood firm on principle and led their people through the wilderness.  Too many today want to take a shortcut to the position, to be admired for nothing more than landing the high profile job in the first place.  Forget statesmanship: if you are a minister, act like a minister, and do not use pretentions to statesmanship as a cover for your own weakness.

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