Modern Leadership vs. Postmodern Leadership

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. ” (Matthew 23:8-11)

Having read many of his books, I can say that Leonard Sweet is my most favorite postmodernist Christian writer. Maybe that’s why I think I have more of a postmodern outlook on life than my peers. I often hear “postmodernism” preached in a negative light in churches, saying inaccurately that it’s all about making truth relative. It’s not. We still have much to learn about and learn from the merits of postmodernism.

One thing we should learn about postmodernism is how it applies to Christian leadership in the emerging church. It’s a large topic, so I offer you the following summarized comparison chart, with some of these items originating from Leonard Sweet’s book “Summoned To Lead”, and some of these from my own observations/research:

Modern Leadership Postmodern Leadership
How one becomes a leader Catching a vision of the future and decides to lead people to fulfill that vision Hearing God’s call to participate with Him in dealing with a present situation
Success of leadership The organizational goals have been achieved and the organization experiences growth The life of each person in the team has been blessed and enriched and attained greater value
Direction of leadership influence Top-down, one-directional, and authoritative Side-by-side, multi-directional, relational, and collaborative
Recruiting team members Have a clear job description, then find people who have the right skills and right heart for the job Set out to grow a “community” of people who are different from each other, and are passionate, creative, and spirited
Most important qualities of a leader A well-respected, learned, and self-assured person with charisma and good public speaking abilities A person who has integrity, is humble, is a life-long learner, and is good at listening to others
How to draft organizational plans/principles Be as detailed as you can, write down each objective and each sub-point on how to achieve those objective As simple as possible, stated with optimism and boldness, use metaphors, is easy to take it to heart
Dealing with change Tend to resist change for fear of loss of position or status Embraces change to help keep in touch with the times
How the leader is thought of He/she is watching “over” the organization He/she is participating “among” the team/community
Motivating team members Through praises and encouraging words and challenging people to do better Through being an example, being a friend, valuing others more than yourself, and help people find meaning in what they do
An example of a great leader Martin Luther King – a natural-born leader – “I have a dream” Frodo – a summoned leader – “I will carry the Ring to Mordor though I do not know the way”

May we be sensitive and responsive to God’s call.

One thought on “Modern Leadership vs. Postmodern Leadership

  1. interesting read…:-)
    never thought of Frodo as being a “leader”, but i guess he is… maybe that’s the thing about being postmodern leader, lead in a way that people don’t even think of you as being a “leader”… :-)

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