Focus on Christian Leadership Part 2 – Compartmentalisation

by Dr Graham Pratt, Thornleigh Community Baptist Church

Part 1 of this series noted a deficit of leadership at the local church level. Even more extensive was the blunting of witness by Christians employed as leaders in secular work organisations. Research findings were summarised in relation to perceived differences between Christian and secular leadership approaches.
For those Christian leaders wishing to exercise an effective witness in the secular workplace, there are significant challenges.  There is information overload of written materials on the topic of leadership generally, with tens of thousands of books on the subject, ranging from well researched, dense publications to those of the “pop Literature” genre. Additionally there is a plethora of approaches advocated, including a number of variants of “Servant Leadership”, “Authentic Leadership” and “Conscious Leadership”.  Many of the books carrying a title of Christian Leadership, Spiritual Leadership, or similar, are written primarily for those serving as ministers of churches or with Christian missions.
The writer’s interviews with Christian CEOs employed in secular organisations  indicate that many perceive it to be very difficult to exercise a consistent spiritual witness and maintain a spiritual walk as a leader. Some work in “alien” organisational cultures, exhibiting the vicious cut and thrust of power struggles. The desire to be accepted, liked and increase influence lead to strong pressures to conform. It is often a struggle to explain and demonstrate one’s Christian lifestyle and approach to leadership to those who do not accept Biblical authority or even general Christian values and principles. The alternative of taking a strong stand against the prevailing organisational values and practices may well lead to personal rejection and a serious loss of influence, the very essence of leadership.
Christian leaders facing these challenges of synthesis receive too little assistance from church leaders, many of whom are ill-equipped from narrow work experience to provide advice in these areas. Often “ministry” is defined narrowly in the church context rather than in the secular mission fields of employment in which most congregational members are immersed. Is it therefore surprising that many Christians “compartmentalise” their lives, isolating their Sunday values and practices from those exercised from Monday to Friday?
Thus compartmentalisation is an apparently rational alternative for Christian leaders  facing enormous personal challenges in secular employment. Yet in opting for this, the leaders minimise their effectiveness to be “salt” and “Light”.


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