by Aaron Earls
Many leaders prefer the authority of leadership, without the responsibility. Who doesn’t love to be the one who gets their say? Who doesn’t hate being the one who gets all the blame?
In those areas of life where you are called to be a leader, are you succumbing to the temptation of distant leadership—leadership that wants to stay far away from the consequences if things go wrong?
You may notice it with three words: “Whatever you want.”
It could be a decision on something mundane or serious, the phrase “whatever you want” can spring into your mind. That simple phrase allows you to maintain ultimate say in the situation, while having a way out of any blame that may result from the decision.
You can use that phrase to abdicate your role as a leader. Those three words can demonstrate you want to avoid final responsibility — that you are being a distant leader.
Do you catch yourself using those words in response to those you lead? Not in a way to actually welcome their feedback, but in order to insulate yourself from responsibility.
Distant leadership is much different from diplomatic leadership or working with others on solving problems or addressing needs. Distant leadership is merely allowing yourself an out to avoid blame.
There is no positive biblical example of distant leadership. Things always end poorly when the leader refuses to take full responsibility.
When David shockingly fell from being a man after God’s own heart to becoming an adulterous murderer, he was in his palace instead of out with his troops. He was attempting to lead comfortably from behind.
God perfectly modeled close leadership in sending Christ. The Incarnation is where God comes down to us. Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. All the possible distance between God and man was erased.
To lead biblically, you cannot lead from a distance. You must lead and live relationally. True leadership considers the thoughts of everyone involved, but maintains an attitude of “the buck stops here.”
When you adopt the more biblical model of leadership, you should notice at least three benefits that accompany ending distant leadership.
1. Proximity inspires.
When those under your leadership see you there with them, it encourages them. They are spurred on in the roles God has given them because they recognize your sacrifice on their behalf.
2. Growth is allowed.
Mistakes happen, but unless responsibility is taken, they cannot be learning experiences. Distant leadership leads to excuses, while close leadership results in personal growth.
3. Culture sees the difference.
To lead in a truly Christian manner is to lead counter-culturally. When you refuse to lead from a distance, those around you take notice and will wonder why you have done so.
Do you use those three words to try to lead from a distance? What other benefits have you found from being close and vulnerable with your leadership?
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net.