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Leading Today: Leadership or Management

By: Ron Walters

To the average layman, the labels "Leadership" and "Management" are synonymous—swatches of the same cloth, mirrored images of themselves. Although they might be in the same gene pool, cousin is as close as they get.

On the surface, they share a striking resemblance similar to a person's hands: The flesh tone is the same, the number of fingers match, everything bends at the same points; but the thumbs are on opposite sides.

So it is with leadership and management: One is a visionary, the other an administrator; one a telescope, the other a microscope.

Leadership can be defined as "doing the right things"; management can be defined as "doing things right."

Management skills will help you climb the ladder of success. Leadership skills determine which wall to lean the ladder against.

Leadership generates vision, values and purpose, which in turn creates action. Management on the other hand channels the action leadership creates and keeps it moving.

Leadership is mostly personal. Management is typically impersonal.

Leadership appeals to a follower's intuition and emotion; it points the way. Management speaks to a follower's raw intellect with facts and figures; it keeps us on track.

Leadership without management is all breadth and no depth, style without substance. Management without leadership is as someone said, "Like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic."

Our nation's history is hinged on both. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and George Patton provided the easel and canvas so that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, William Seward and Dwight Eisenhower could paint the pictures.

Typically, once a leader always a leader, but sometimes it morphs. For centuries, the Roman Empire served as the poster-child of leadership. Its top priority was expansion—to march and conquer. In time, the imperial mood shifted and the approach was to take a defensive posture, building walls to keep out the dreaded barbarians. The walls became more than defenses; they were physical metaphors of the empire's policy change—a change they were ill-equipped to handle. Once mismanaged, the empire fell.

Leadership and management are the building blocks of every church, blocks tucked neatly around the Chief Cornerstone. Christ's bride couldn't exist without both roles firmly in place and executed at a high level.

Unfortunately, every pastor is expected to provide both qualities. Whereas there's a slice of the other in each of us, we're either one or the other. Nobody can do both well.

Scripture refers to these two roles as ruling gifts, and it should come as no surprise that both have been foundational in His work since the beginning of time. For example:

• Abraham was a leader; Jacob was a manager.

• Moses was a leader; Joshua was a manager.

• David was a leader; Saul was a manager.

• Isaiah was a leader; Hezekiah was a manager.

• Nehemiah was a leader; Ezra was a manager.

• Paul was a leader; Barnabas was a manager.

Each role is a full-time job, and each is a measuring stick by which our ministries are evaluated. Dull sermons we can forgive. Long prayers ultimately will end. Confused leadership or gross mismanagement is an unforgiveable sin.

Knowing and exercising your gift is the starting point. Finding and empowering others with the complementary gift is the follow-up.

The head and heart are critical to a body's life, but neither could do the other's job. The brain can't pump blood, and the heart can't think a thought. So it is with leadership and management to the body of Christ.

The ruling gift which God has granted you was designed to be critical to the health, well being and growth of the church. Your assignment and God-given tools are all part of the Master's plan for kingdom building. So, whether He's given you a hammer and saw or a computer and organizational chart, we need you on the job.

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