Articles and thoughts by Steve Green.
I can’t remember the last time I read a book and wept. In part, my tears were from deep conviction. I long to be free from narcissism, fear, dogmatism and the tendency to hide. And partly the tears flowed from a sense of relief. My sin and failure make my story a gospel story rather than merely a successful story or a helpful story. My story of foolishness, redemption, reconciliation and restoration is the canvas that God uses to paint the portrait of His grace.
Redemption requires brokenness and brokenness contains both confidence and openness that come from revealing the worst there is about me. I am a sinner. The good news is that God redeems failures. As Dan writes, “It seems God loves to use troubled, odd, unpredictable people to not only lead others but also to make the gospel known.” I’ve always told my story. It’s not too hard to speak of past failures and God’s redemption. But to talk about the “not yet” part of redemption, acknowledging the still existing sins requires great grace and the courage to be a paradoxical leader.
The model of church leadership is anything but this. Leading from strength and impressiveness seems to be the norm. It is what people want. Just last week at a banquet table I was asked by a retired MLB player about my Scripture memorization. He had heard of it somewhere. Yes, I’ve memorized whole books of the Bible, but why? Probably for mixed reasons. There was a hunger to learn, but memorization has always been easy for me and yielded impressive results. What the table wanted to hear was a story of my exemplary spiritual disciplines. What I felt was emptiness. They wanted me to be the hero, but no heart is uncovered, no wounding is healed, no trembling saint is helped by a presentation of personal power. It’s only in telling the true story, without spin or sugar-coating that the light of the gospel begins to shine and Jesus is rightly seen as the only hero.
Dan reminds us that God’s leadership model is brokenness not performance, relationship not commotion, and grace not success. Humility comes from humiliation and foolish falls. A leader is a saint and a felon. The question is, will I chose to see, name and honor both the dignity and depravity in all my endeavors? How far I have to go. May God help me.
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