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Incarnational Leadership

by | Jul 24, 2020 | Church Leadership

The true Church has never desired to have control because their kingdom is not of this world. One day Jesus will return and establish His theocracy, a world government based on His Lordship, with willing subjects who lead with love.

But for now, the power of the Church is found in healing, serving, and pursuing justice…in bringing God’s shalom.

When Jesus left His Father’s side and became human like us, He gave us the ultimate picture of how the Church is to behave: just like Him.

Here’s the theological principle for leaders: Reconciliation is the responsibility of the people in power.

For instance, in the Kingdom of God, African-Americans must extend forgiveness to me, their white brother. But there’s something vitally missing in that for me: If I don’t ask for forgiveness and show fruits of repentance by seeking structural and individual justice, then I’m going to miss the transformational power of love in my life. It is always the responsibility of the people of privilege and power to seek reconciliation, not the other way around. That’s what Jesus did: left the privileges of heaven to reconcile the world to Himself, became a servant.

Reconciliation—by slipping into the skin and understanding the world of those not in power—is the core of Christianity.

That’s the incarnation. Paul sums it up like this in Philippians 2:

Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians. 2:5-8 Living Bible)

Jesus had all the power and all the privilege and rights with His Father, they were one in the same. But something remarkable happened because of love: He slipped into the skin of a servant. He knows what it’s like because He did the unthinkable: He became one of us. That’s the responsibility of the one with the power.

That’s what each one of us is called to do—to slip into the skin of someone else, so we can feel what they feel and see what they see, and so love them to the fullest.

That’s real love. As Paul writes: You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was: though he was so very rich, yet to help you he became so very poor…. (2 Corinthians 8:9a Living Bible)

It’s incarnational Christianity.

And it’s all about love.

How are you leading in that way?

Question of the Day: Is Your Leadership Incarnational?

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Dave Workman

Dave Workman serves as president of Partnership Advisors. He is the author of The Outward-Focused Life: Becoming a Servant in a Serve-Me World (Baker Books) and the upcoming Elemental Leader: Four Essentials Every Leader Needs…And Every Organization Must Have.

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