I’m currently taking a intercultural communications class in seminary, and one of the required texts is Sherwood G. Lingenfelter’s Leading Cross-Culturally: Covenant Relationships for Effective Christian Leadership. I really did not expect, when I looked at the title and endorsements on the book that this would be a book that I would enjoy or that I would find too helpful. However, Lingenfelter’s voice is really easy and pleasant to read and his thoughts are often full of wisdom.
One of the things that I have encountered in this book that has stayed in my thoughts as I begin to contemplate some of my writing assignments is the following quote from the first chapter. After Lingefelter shares a case study of a less than successful missionary team, he dives into exploring the idea of what Christian leadership is. He then shares some pitfalls and temptations for Christian leaders to avoid. The temptation of power and exertion of will is a leadership failure that has driven my family from two different churches in the past three years.
As Lingefelter puts it,
Yielding to the temptation to control and forcibly influence outcomes completely undermines and destroys spiritual ministry. We cannot do the work of the kingdom of God by exercising the tools of the devil. When we distort God’s will, when we seek power to achieve the ends that seem right to us, when we refuse to love as Christ commanded us, when we use power to make things happen that we think are essential, we have fallen into the trap that the evil one so cleverly sets for us, and we destroy the work of the kingdom of God.
The ends do not justify the means, and God never wants us to use unsavory means to accomplish our work for him. We would all do better to remember that.