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NAR Advocating for Carnal CEO Leadership Instead of Shepherding

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It is not bias against church leaders but rather correct criticism against those who lead in the church by sacrificing what the bible says for some carnal measure of alleged "growth." These verses do not say act as a CEO over the flock. It does not even say lead per se but rather shepherd. Why? Because leadership while implied in shepherding is only the tip of the iceberg. Shepherding also requires tending to the flock. Nurturing them. Feeding them. Helping them grow. Protecting them from wolves and predators. We see the flawed and purely carnal thinking of the church growth industry on full display here. Churches with a mere 200 people are somehow labeled as "failing" when the reality is that they are often to strongest churches alive today. The mission and future of the church are fueled by the Gospel, not some worldly metric.

"Let's move beyond the stereotypes for a moment. Shepherds are seen as caring, pastoral, gentle and kind. CEOs are seen as arrogant, brash, selfish, difficult and demanding. Neither characterization is helpful or, frankly, accurate. Sure"you can think of CEOs or executive types who fit all the bad stereotypes. And chances are you've made up what a shepherd looks like because, frankly, you've never met one. I haven't. From what I know of first-century shepherds (and I admit, I don't have a degree in shepherding), it wasn't all green meadows and sunshine. Shepherding took quite a bit of resolve and strength. Shepherds had to keep sheep from drinking out of brackish or tainted water and keep them from poisoning themselves. Shepherds had to fight off wolves, lions and thieves. Clubbing to lions to death and pulling a lamb out of the jaws of a bear are not for the fainthearted. Apparently, first-century Palestinian shepherds even would break the leg of a wandering sheep to correct its errant behavior. Try that at your next congregational meeting. In an association we often miss, David himself claimed that shepherding prepared him to fight Goliath and, arguably, even become King. He saw it more as leadership development than anything, and leadership in one field ultimately opened leadership in others. The job was demanding enough that, as Jesus himself said, it might require your life. Run this description by any effective CEO and they might tell you "That sounds like my job." Maybe a first-century shepherd was more like an effective leader than you think." -- Carey Nieuwhof

It is so obvious when someone without the indwelt Holy Spirit tries to discuss what is intended to be a spiritual discussion. The imagery of a shepherd was used by God specifically because of the consideration Nieuwhof lists but in spiritual terms. Pastoring absolutely takes great resolve and strength. While real shepherds prevented sheep from drinking poisoned water, the spiritual shepherd prevents his sheep from drinking poisoned doctrine. While real shepherds fight off wolves, lions and thieves the spiritual equivalent are the false teachers and prophets who would seek to devour the sheep by leading them astray. Clubbing predators and rescuing sheep from imminent doom is in fact the role of discernment ministries. I do not know about breaking the legs of wandering sheep but sometimes the spiritual love is often perceived as violent behavior. Nieuwhof also misses the boat on David. it is not the mere act of shepherding that prepared him but it is specifically that which strengthened his faith. It was the opposite of leadership development in that it taught David to trust in God alone. There is no question that a biblical shepherd's role is one of leadership. It just is not the carnal leadership Carey is equating it to.

"So are CEOs inherently brash, impatient, selfish, egomaniacs? Well, not effective ones. Jim Collins' exhaustive study of truly great companies (companies that outperformed their competitors substantially and significantly) discovered that the great companies had what he called Level 5 CEOs. Collins and his team were shocked to discover a rare and endearing quality among the CEOs of the truly greatest companies: they had deep resolve to do whatever it took to advance the mission AND a deep, personal"are you ready--humility. To quote Collins: [Level 5 CEOs] are somewhat self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who have an almost stoic resolve to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the company great, channeling their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious--but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves. The most effective CEOs are the most humble CEOs. I ask you, isn't that exactly what a Christian leader should be? Sounds an awful lot like the Apostle Paul to me. Or like Moses. Even like Jesus (if you're willing to strip away your stereotypes and read what scripture says about Jesus). Consequently, isn't that exactly what a great pastor could be? Saying the model of pastor-as-CEO is bad for the church is like saying leadership really doesn't matter. It's also saying businesses should get all the best leaders. The mission of the church is too important to be stunted by a poorly thought-through stereotype of a CEO." -- Carey Nieuwhof

Nieuwhof is trying to blur the lines between a corporate CEO and the role of a biblical shepherd and the one trait he claims to have found in common is humility. What he fails to see is that biblical humility is not the same as carnal humility. Both are admirable but one is rooted in deference to Jesus Christ and the other is simply not. The humble CEO still thinks the things of God are absolute foolishness to them. Carey hints at the other difference which is that the humble CEO is concerned about one thing -- the company. The biblical shepherd is concerned about one thing as well -- the sheep. This is another change the purpose driven life has infected the modern church with; blessed subtraction. This teaching tells pastors that it is ok for sheep to leave and even suggests encouraging them to leave if they are not on board with the carnal vision of church growth. Under the purpose driven church paradigm, the individual church as an entity takes prominence over the needs of the sheep. Like the corporate CEO, who may be humble as the day is long, but has no problem reaching his goals with or without you. That is nothing like the Apostle Paul, Moses or even Jesus. They cared solely about the people and through them, Christ will build His church. Not in spite of them. Not after blessedly subtracting some of them. Acts Chapter Two teaches us that the pastor is responsible for the vertical growth of his sheep while God is responsible for the horizontal growth of the church. Translation? The shepherd is concerned with the growth of his sheep and leaves the number of those added to the church up to the God who is solely responsible for salvation. So we reject that unbelievably carnal notion that insisting on biblical parameters for the pastor is somehow saying no to leadership. Real biblical leadership does matter. It matters so much we insist on following the bible to achieve it.

"The next decade of the church is critical. What often passes as 'pastoral' is not pastoral in the first-century sense of shepherding; it's passive. If all we do is recruit pastors who love to care for people until they die, the church will die. I realize this is somewhat hyperbolic, but perhaps it's less of an overstatement than you think. We're closing churches in record numbers, largely because pastors want to 'pastor' but not lead. I believe we should care for people until they die, but the pastor doesn't need to be the sole person to do that. 98% of pastoral care is having someone who cares. It doesn't have to be the pastor. So what should the next generation of pastors do? Lead. Lead humbly, with compassion and lead with care. Jim Collins isn't the only one to show that great leadership takes courage, skill and humility. Cheryl Bachelder and Patrick Lencioni both make the case that the best kind of leadership is servant leadership. And by that, they also mean that, long term, the most profitable leadership is servant leadership. But Collins, Bachelder and Lencioni also understand that leading with compassion means doing what's best for people"not simply doing what people want. If first-century shepherds simply did what the sheep wanted, the sheep would be dead. Quite simply, the job of a leader is to take people where they wouldn't otherwise go. It takes tremendous strength, exceptional courage, trust, humility and a willingness to die to self to do accomplish the mission to which you've been called. This kind of leadership shift will mean the demise of the people-pleasing, co-dependent leader who longs to be liked. And that's okay. The church (and the business world) need tens of thousands of new leaders who are willing to be incredibly unpopular but will resolve to do what needs to be done. Somedays I wonder how many Christian CEOs of small and large companies might have been in ministry if our model, expectations and attitude were different." -- Carey Nieuwhof

It is not hyperbolic -- it is stupid. Listen to the inane silliness of what Nieuwhof is suggesting here. It is the same recent trend where some churches were actually asking older church members to leave so they could attract young folks. The pastor is supposed to love and care for his sheep until they die! Is Carey Nieuwhof insane? The preached uncompromised Gospel will have two results. It will feed your sheep and pave the way for the Holy Spirit to draw the unsaved. Churches are closing in record numbers because they stopped preaching the Gospel in favor of this purpose driven slop. Nieuwhof then offers up a completely false dichotomy. He pretends that the pastor either does what the sheep want or what is best for the sheep. I expect no less from someone who does not have the spirit of God inside of them. The actual path is to do what God has said to do already. That way we know it is what is best for the sheep. Nieuwhof thinks that good leadership in the church is to drag the sheep off his purpose driven cliff. To make them all feel guilty if they are not solely focused on the unsaved goats. That the sheep must endure unbiblical worship, sermons focused on earthly needs and desires, and how we can convince more unsaved people each week to come to our building. That is what he means when he says that the job of a leader is to take the people where they wouldn't otherwise go. Then Carey reveals how little he thinks of the true biblical shepherd. To him they are people pleasers. They are co-dependent. They long to be liked. What absolute garbage. True godly leaders are dependent on God alone, seek to please God alone, and do not do what they do in order to be liked. Carey thinks these folks need to see their demise so more corporate robots can enter the pulpits. We see his brazen admission that he wishes that CEO's of small Christian businesses were more frequently in the pulpit. Who cares if they are called. Who cares if they are gifted as shepherds. As long as they can balance the carnal spreadsheets.

"So what would make this situation better? Think twice before you say the church needs more shepherds. Or if you do talk about the need for shepherds, talk about the kind of shepherd David was. We sure need more of those. And think three times before you slam the idea of church leaders acting like leaders or humble CEOs. Read a book like Jim Collin's Good to Great. Think more deeply about whether the church needs more entrepreneurs. (For reasons outlined here, I believe that's exactly what we need.) Realize that truly great CEOs often model exactly what scripture talks about in terms of great leadership, and that maybe our entire mission would advance if we valued those gifts more deeply. And finally, next time someone says your pastor is behaving like a (Level 5) CEO, be thankful. More people might be in heaven because of it." -- Carey Nieuwhof

I do not know Jim Collins and I do not need to read him. The church does not need more entrepreneurs Carey. They need more shepherds. The age of purpose driven cult of personality pastors has wreaked generational damage to the church and the cause of Christ. More people will not be in heaven because of the style of leadership shown by any carnal man. Instead, only if they stay true to the Gospel will we see increase in heaven. That is not accomplished through purpose driven leadership dreams and seeker friendly vision-casting CEO dudes. The church needs more shepherds Carey. Shepherds who will carry the crook to guide the sheep on their way. Shepherds who will care for the flock until they go home to be with the Lord. Leaders who will wield the shepherd's rod against lions, wolves, bears and the Carey Nieuwhof's of this carnal world until Jesus comes.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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