In relationships in general, in marriage, in parenting or when leading a group of people it’s all too easy to resort of “strong arm tactics” to get what you want and accomplish things. It’s called by different names: An “authoritarian” or “dictatorial” style (soften it a bit and it’s “benevolent dictatorship”… in other words, “What I’m demanding is really for your own good!”). But there’s no getting around it – it’s still demanding and totalitarian – even despotic. Sadly, this is an approach that communicates, “It’s my way or the highway!”
Admittedly, in troubled or dysfunctional organizations, there may be times when things are in total disarray and a leader must take control, or as we put it on the farm, “get a bridle on the horse!” But that should be a temporary, situational strategy, not a dominant leadership style.
This morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” I read Philemon, Paul’s little epistle to a friend… It’s really an appeal from a Spiritual “father” to Philemon, urging him to receive back his runaway slave, Onesimus, extending to him Christian forgiveness and dignity. Paul’s appeal comes with “apostolic authority” but the approach he used was not dictatorial, but much more in keeping with the spirit and attitude of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.
Listen to the language Apostle Paul uses… “Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you… “I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion, but of your own accord… So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me… Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.” (From Philemon 8-22)
Listen, I want to exhibit a “Christlike leadership style” in ALL my relationships… at home, in my neighborhood, at work, at play… EVERYWHERE to EVERYONE I am privileged to lead in some way! Apostle Paul put it another way in his epistles… He spoke of “the authority that the Lord had given for building up and not destroying or tearing down.” (2 Corinthians 10:8 and 13:10). That’s the kind of authority I want to exemplify and express!