Posture or Process?


According to Clarke, Pauline leadership emphasizes a Spirit-led distribution of power that centers on the rule of Christ.[1] Regardless of the title, function, or context, it seems clear that for Paul, church leadership should be synonymous with selfless servanthood.[2] It is important to note that Paul’s servant leadership was not an endorsement of anarchy, communalism, or anti-leadership. On the contrary, Pauline leadership is a “posture-focused” leadership wherein one may still have authority over another individual, yet that authority is exercised in a spirit of humble love.[3] Crowther argues that Philippians 2:5-11 and Bekker’s proto-theory of kenotic leadership provide the ultimate leadership model of Christ.[4] Barentsen argues that although the specific structures found within Pauline leadership principles were not necessary intended to transcend his context, the principles behind those structures “function as the standard by which long-term cohesion and stability can be measured.”[5] Although these argue that Pauline leadership focuses on servanthood, others argue that Pauline leadership actually focuses on the process of change.[6] One could argue that an emphasis on service without a foundation built on the process of “becoming” a servant may lead to “self-service.” Although serving is the primary function of Pauline leadership, mimesis or “becoming like Christ” is the ultimate goal of Christ-like leadership.[7] Could it be that the “results-based” culture of American Evangelical Christianity actually sabotages the “process-focus” of Pauline leadership? Do we claim the title of “servant” without actually engaging the process of “becoming” a servant?

[1] Andrew Clark, A Pauline Theology of Leadership. (London: T&T Clark, 2008),128.

[2] Ibid, 97-102.

[3] Ibid, 102.

[4] Steven Crowther, Peter on Leadership: A Contemporary Exegetical Analysis. (North Carolina: Steven Crowther, 2012), loc 283.

[5] Jack Barentsen, Emerging Leadership in the Pauline Mission: A Social Identity Perspective on Local Leadership Development in Corinth and Ephesus. (Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2011), 311.

[6] Reinard Nauta. “Mosaic and Pauline charisma: the cultural relevance of religious leadership.” Journal Of Empirical Theology 11, 2 (1998): 54.

[7] Steven Crowther, Peter on Leadership: A Contemporary Exegetical Analysis. (North Carolina: Steven Crowther, 2012), loc 3666.

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