Is servant leadership a form of idolatry?

Leadership is a very strong emphasis in the UMC these days. It is one of the Four Focuses of the UMC. There are hundred of books and countless seminars on this subject of being a better leader.

Leadership is a big deal to many organizations and the UMC is no exception.

Some of the conversations in the UMC have understood that when talking about leadership, we are talking about a specific and alternate way of leadership. So the phrase "servant leader" is thrown about when we remember to do so. This is helpful for those who view leadership as being the first to charge solo into battle on a white horse while waving a sword over their head. It is even helpful for those who view the best leaders as those who operate like a CEO or a President.

But even servant leadership is a bit of missing the mark. It still places the emphasis on the individual who is deemed the leader to be the primary actor. If the person is riding horse back into battle or if they are washing feet of their friends, the action is still centered on the leader who is doing all (or most) of the work.

Here is where that view of leadership misses the mark. If we view leadership as a quality that we desire for pastors and lay members of the Church, then is it idolatrous to first focus on the actions of the person we might call the "leader"? Is it not appropriate to first focus on the way in which the Head of the Church (Jesus) is doing and then learn to follow?

What I mean is Christian leadership is not primarily focused on getting people more knowledge so they would know how to act in a situation that comes up. It is not about getting people to dream a dream and get people to "come along". It is not about getting others to be like us or follow us.

Christian leadership is primarily focused on instilling wisdom of the Spirit into people so we would know how to listen to others. It is centered on helping people see the vision that has already been cast by Christ and live into that reality. It is about inviting others to be be like Christ and follow.

Leadership in a Christian context is first and foremost about "follower-ship".

We already have a leader.