For the Good of the Many

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a bit of a Trekie … not a fanatic by any means (I started watching when Kirk started his career and quit when Picard retired). You know, you can learn a lot about leadership watching that series, both how to lead effectively and how not to lead.

But one of the most damaging leadership fumbles I see in the church reminds me of one of the most well-known scenes from the Wrath of Khan movie. I speak of the Spock Death Scene. There we find Mr. Spock dying of radiation poisoning because he rushed into the reactor chamber to “fix” the crippled Enterprise. As he dies he utters one of the most important leadership lines ever spoken: “The needs of many outweighs the needs of the many … or the one.”

The tragedy is that many church leaders don’t “get” that. Leadership Job 1 is to put the good of the church and the collective congregation over the needs, desire, or even the good of the few … or the one. Too many churches are crippled today because a very few, and sometimes just one, is allowed to undermine, derail, or detour the effective pursuit of the congregation’s mission and vision.

I’m often amazed, but rarely surprised, when I encounter a church that is in decline and I discover that a bully, a terrorist, or even a well-meaning but misguided person is wittingly or unwittingly killing their church because the leadership continues to put that person above the collective whole. Although it may sound very “Christian-like” to accommodate these folks, it’s nothing like the model offered by Jesus and his band of disciples. Jesus would not be distracted by others who tried to deter his mission. He wouldn’t allow the crowd to crown him king. He wouldn’t spend his energy trying to fix the cultural poverty issue. And he wouldn’t offer a Plan B to those who wouldn’t get on board. The good of the mission always outweighed the good, needs, desires, or preferences of any individual.

Leaders are charged with putting needs of the congregation, the good of the church, above individuals. They know that their first and most important job is to ensure the achievement of the church’s mission and the pursuit of their vision.

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