I see large categorical distinctions between Christian and secular leadership. After watching and reading content from a recent grad. class and considering the topic a bit, I have identified my top five difference as I see it right now.
- Secular leadership is results/outcomes focused, while Christian leadership according to Holy Scripture is completely committed to the obedience and faithfulness to God as we lead and serve. This means that Christian leaders may not just justify the means by any “good” ends, whereas secular leadership to varying of morality have a tendency to be quite good at this.
- Secular leadership adjusts with the times, responding to social or even personal imbalances, while Christian leadership, not simply in principle but largely too in practice, is constant and timeless. If said Christian leadership is Biblical leaders, then issues of man, influence, message, etc. are dealt with at a root level by the supreme wisdom of God, even though the leader will certainly experience the need here and there to contextualize Biblical instruction to contemporary settings and situations.
- Secular leadership is Man-centered and, however humbly, tends heavily toward making a leader or leaders the source of wisdom or at least the source of such wise application or implementation. Christian leadership, on the other hand, seeks only to speak God’s wisdom and to credit only the work of His Spirit with effective-ness. That said, even the gifting that might make a particular man or a plurality of men productive leaders is seen and emphasized to have been received from Jesus for the direct benefit of his church.
- Secular leadership is consumed with (many times appearing fearful of) the uncertain future of an organization if it were not for creatively maintaining the interest and commitment of its people in relevant and innovative ways, while Christian leadership (in particular in discipleship and local church pastorates) conversely ought not have the same anxiety or pressure. While we care about retention, buy-in, and even growth, the Christian pastor/leader is confident that healthy things grow how God desires it to grow. We are not pragmatists who buy into the lie that it is anything more than Christ’s call and the Spirit’s leading that brings and changes people.
- Secular leadership stresses public morality, while within Christian leadership, private character is critical. While many secular leaders have an authentic and sincere moral compass – they are polite, they are nice often, they value honesty when making deals, they are even willing to give generously to help someone, etc. – we know the heart of man before faith in Christ is exceedingly wicked and that even a high morality in worldly standards pales in comparison to what God demands and what the Church needs from a leader. Christian leadership, however, has a far deeper and more rich commitment to what the world considers ‘morality.’ Christians leaders are (to be) kind, honest, generous as unto the Lord, for anyone, and regardless of how much attention or credit they receive. Our ‘morality’ is compelled by our love for and commitment to obeying our God. And it is because we answer to a higher authority that our character and integrity will be driven down deeper.