It’s not about Titles

It's not about Titles

Greetings in the Lord,

“Leadership: It’s Action, not position,” That statement graces the bottom of a picture that hangs as a centerpiece on my office wall. It’s the picture of an eagle (not beagle) soaring just off the water’s surface with a fish in it’s talons. I see it every single day that I walk in to go to work, and it means a great deal because it was given to me by a group of leaders as I was transitioning into a new ministry.

This world loves titles. We hang them on doors…we put them on brass plates to adorn our desks…we emboss them on business cards, but the problem with titles is they are just words. A title means absolutely nothing unless it is lived out in the real world. And those who covet the title almost never make very good leaders. True leadership is always identified in action before the title is bestowed. What do I mean by that? I mean true leaders are always shepherding and mentoring people in their lives way before any public recognition takes place. And in the Church, leadership is a God given quality. Some people realize it, some do not. Some have a special awareness that the call to leadership is a call to serve God in a special way. Please realize, you can train yourself to be a more effective leader, but you cannot train yourself to be a leader and think God had nothing to do with it. God’s choice of leadership in the Bible is an interesting study because of the variety of types, methods and results…Jesus choose the twelve, and you could not have compiled a more different collection of personalities and backgrounds. He knew Judas was not truly one of the group from the beginning, and only after the Gift of the Holy Spirit did these men have the power to fulfill their purpose. The Apostles instigated the choosing of the first deacons in Acts chapter six. “Men full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom,” and these individuals were chosen for a specific ministry…to care for the widows that were being left out in the distribution of food. Servants, or Deacons always had a specific ministry and were carrying it out for the unity of the Church. If you notice the order of selection….The Apostle’s needed to be committed to the “Ministry of the Word of God and Prayer,” so “7 men were chosen who had already identified themselves as spirit-filled and wise for a specific ministry.” If we are to follow the precedent of the New Testament it’s important that leaders not only have the qualities identified in Titus and Timothy, but that the selection always has to do with the service that’s needed for the Church, not because we desire to bestow a title…action, not position.

One of my favorite leaders was a guy named Sox Cox…no kidding. He was an old coal miner from West Virginia (I minbistered there in the mid 80’s as a Student/Children’s minister). Sox was one of the most genuine, loving, gentle, and self sacrificing people I’d ever met. Every word that came from his mouth was encouraging or it didn’t come from his mouth. He was bold when it came to the important purposes of the church, but he was never showy or self promoting….and even though he was super respected…he never had a title like Elder or Deacon or Superintendent….or minister, as long as I knew him. Sox worked in the coal mines all his life…he got his nickname by collecting socks for the orphanage that we supported. And every Sunday, even though he struggled for each breath he took and toted a green oxygen bottle around with him on wheels…Sox parked in the farthest parking place away from the front doors…and if you asked him why, he’d say, “We might have a visitor that needs that spot more and I want to do everything possible for them to know they’re important and what we are about as a church.” And then he would wait in the foyer to greet with a smile, or a hug anyone he possibly could. Like I said, Leadership is action not position….and you can always tell what kind of leader someone is by how they view the needs of others (all others, not just their crew) above their own.

Looking for and wanting to do…leadership in Action,

Rick Burdette


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