Without an understanding of leadership, our lives can take a wrong turn. If we are confused about our current situation and wondering how to escape leadership gone wrong, or trying to quit our position as a leader, we need a fresh perspective on leadership. The idea of learning about leadership actually began many years ago when I was a young student in Bible College. I heard a sermon that was entitled “Women’s Biblical Leadership in a Man’s World.” At the time, the women’s movement was beginning to attract a lot of media attention and droves of women were responding to the new accolades of the movement that promised freedom from the tyranny of men’s leadership in almost every single area of life. Women wanted to be treated as equals in the home, in the workplace, in the community and every other place that counted. The pastor and teacher, Dr. McLean, who delivered the sermon, was, in a real sense, treading on thin ice by approaching this subject. At the time, I was one of those women who believed whole-heartedly in the women’s movement, and I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say.
At the time, I was still coming out of a backslidden Christian life, and gradually learning many truths from the Bible. When I was still an adolescent, I was drawn to the hippy movement. I liked their laid-back ways and being artistic, I was drawn to their unique way of expressing themselves in what they wore, and just about in everything else they did. So for most of my teenage years, I was involved with the hippy movement, and had been taught to shun authority. Their anti-establishment beliefs hit home with me. I was already opinionated and looking for a cause, so I seemed to fit right in with them. As a young and newly trained journalist, I would write about injustices I had seen and experienced. I was determined to change the world, and would do so with a passion, the same passion the hippies seemed to have, to make a difference. It was also a love and peace movement, where I found acceptance, and I was encouraged to do my own thing. Part of that included the use of recreational drugs, which were freely handed to me. I was also handed some of the “paranormal” literature, and began reading books on their version of “love” and “out of body, out of mind” experiences. I was fully indoctrinated in the rock music culture. I had memorized most of the songs, which reinforced the beliefs of the movement, and I owned many of the albums, which I would listen to over and over again. To sum it up, since I was taught that there were literally no boundaries in what you could do, I did many daring and foolish things during that time. They never said anything about consequences, but I had already seen the devastation of the drug and “free love” culture. People were dying from drug overdose or had become permanently mentally disabled from too many drugs. Some women were pregnant with babies and didn’t even know who the father was. Many women aborted their babies, and lived to regret it to this day.
I had my own fallout, and never fully recovered from the terror of a car accident that nearly took my life (the other car was at fault). I narrowly escaped from trouble many times when me and my girlfriend hitch-hiked half way across Canada (4000 miles in total). I ended up with a nervous breakdown from this and many other frightening events that happened to me from taking bad drugs. I would have nightmares even after I quit taking the drugs. The summer before going to Bible School, I went home to my parent’s. I couldn’t work because of the breakdown, and I had no future and no idea what I’d do with the rest of my life. My parents, who were strong Christians, and very concerned about me, suggested I go to Bible School for a year. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was really one of the best decisions I ever made, even though I was reluctant to go. Still, even though my life was such a mess at that point, I was determined to resist any change that going to Bible School might bring about. I was not going to become a Bible thumping, straight-laced Christian. I didn’t want to abandon my lifestyle, and I still wanted my freedom to do as I pleased.
So here I was at Bible School, resisting change, but going to classes, doing my homework, following (most of) the rules, and keeping to a busy schedule. But in my heart, I was angry at God since He didn’t seem to be answering my prayers; I was confused, and I was filled with fear. Plus, I was still deeply depressed as part of the breakdown, and frustrated because I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do to be free of the constant sadness I felt. I was also going through withdrawal from the drugs. I have to say that, during this time, the staff and other students must have had an understanding of what I was going through, because, like the hippies, they completely accepted me, and I never once felt condemned by them for the lifestyle I was obviously hanging onto. All I remember are their smiles and friendliness, their support and their concern. God was already trying to reach me in a most gentle, unthreatening way, and the many truths in the Bible were beginning to seem real to me and longer just words on a page. So in spite of my inner struggle and rebellion to resist God and His ways, my strong resolve was beginning to crumble little by little, and I was beginning to develop a real interest in the things of God.
Still, the night I heard Dr. McLean’s sermon, I was ready to defend my position about equality, rights, and the freedom to escape the tyranny of any authority, that is, if he said anything that would make me feel less of a person because I am a woman. I was in for a big surprise! One of the things he said (using Proverbs 31 as the basis), was that a women’s role is so multifaceted, that a man could never perform all the many things she does. In fact, a man could scarcely survive in the home, if it weren’t for his wife. She is the success behind his success. He also said that a man, especially if he is a leader in any capacity, is never a “boss” over anyone, but rather a “servant.” He said that God’s ways are exactly opposite to man’s (see Isaiah 55:8-9). He had Scripture to support everything he said. So after Dr. McLean thoroughly explained the Biblical roles of both women and men, I came away with the beginning of a Biblical understanding of what leadership really means. My interest piqued, I began a journey of learning about leadership and in many ways, the sermon saved me from major mistakes I could have made in my life if I had not been given the groundwork of knowledge he had first provided.
For me, I was profoundly affected by leadership as a teenager. While the hippies may have started out with good intentions in trying to make a difference in the world, they used all the wrong methods to do so. In many ways, and for many people, their ways ended in death. The following verse says it well:
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
I learned that true freedom does not mean you can do whatever pleases you whenever you want. True freedom is something you can’t obtain on your own no matter how hard you try. It happened for me when Jesus Christ became the Lord of my life, and I no longer felt controlled by my own sinful desires. Only Jesus can set us free, found in John 8:34-36:
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. “ If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
They may not be judged today, but far worse, they are reserved for the “day of judgement.”
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 2 Peter 2:12
Freedom doesn’t mean resisting authority, rather, it means submitting to it as unto the Lord. Some may be reading this right now and going through a very difficult situation with an obstinate husband, a stubborn boss, or even a pastor of a church whom you don’t see eye to eye. Perhaps political decisions have been made that are having a negative impact on your day to day life. Like me, maybe you are frustrated and confused, knowing you can’t change things the way they are. Perhaps you’ve tried many times and failed. In the next chapter, we’ll discover leadership that is life changing, and from this discovery, we will have a much better understanding of what leadership should look like.