Since coming on staff as the Communications Director for my church, my outlook on leadership has significantly changed. In all of my previous jobs, I’ve been managed. It wasn’t until I actually experienced healthy leadership that I realized management and leadership are two very different concepts.
My pastor is very much a visionary. His aim is to empower everyone on our team to excel in their area of gifting. He comes in to cast vision and provide overall guidance but he’s not a mirco manager and he extends a lot of freedom. Much more freedom than I’m used to.
This is a stark contrast to what I’ve seen in management. My managers were there to provide stability, structure and facilitate the status quo. I know all about policies, procedures and formal processes. My managed environments were safe, full of rules and they thrived when risk was minimized.
But this all got me thinking about the Holy Spirit’s role in my life. Is He a manager or a leader?
Management vs Leadership
This may sound overly simplistic but the first time I heard this it came to me as a revelation.
Managers manage. Leaders lead.
Having a good understanding of these two concepts has begun to revolutionize my relationship with Holy Spirit. Here are a few fundamental differences between the two:
- Leaders promote change. Managers create stability.*
- Leaders facilitate. Managers control.
- Leaders appeal to the heart. Managers appeal to the head.
- Leaders are concerned with what is right. Managers are concerned with being right.
This short list brings so much insight into how I’ve always related to the third Person of the trinity.
I’ve liked management. I’ve been exposed to it my entire life. It’s comfortable and stable. I don’t always like control but I’ve been taught that it is necessary to keep things safe.
Leadership on the other hand can feel scary. I don’t like change. I like to be told exactly what to do so I can always be sure of where I stand. Freedom can be intimidating.
So it begs the question, “What does a management mindset create in a believer?”
My whole life I’ve tried to manage my sin. I subscribed to the gospel of behavior modification. The way I studied the Bible was in an attempt to find out what I could and couldn’t do.
Rather than reading the Bible as a story, I read it as a User’s Manual. When I first heard the acronym for the Bible, I thought it was genius. You know the one:
But reading the Bible as a manual is contrary to it’s contents. It tells the story of creation, the dispensing of the law, the redemption of mankind and the fulfillment of the law. It’s a story of a God that does everything for the creation He loves. Even dying for them.
So we’re left with a love story that points to this Good News that many of us never fully grasp. And so we look to what we know: management.
We know that sin is wrong. So the more we know about sin, the more we can control it. We think that with more protection there will be less exposure. The problem is that all our efforts can never keep sin managed.
But there is a better way.
Holy Spirit Leadership
Throughout the Bible we see God leading men, not managing them. He constantly appeals to hearts. Sin is just a byproduct of the real issue at hand; our love for God.
A true leader is after hearts, not compliance. A true leader knows that willful obedience can only be sustained when hearts are in alignment.
Romans 8:14 says “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Then in Galatians 5:18 it says “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law“. Sons and daughters are not managed with a list of rules. They are led with freedom within boundaries.
We no longer need to use the law to manage our sin. We simply need to receive His Spirit. Under Holy Spirit’s leadership, we will thrive in freedom.
Management is stagnant. Leadership is fluid. Management is a lake. Leadership is a river.
Jesus himself said that whoever believes in Him will have rivers of living water flowing out of his heart (John 7:38).
Have you tried to manage your sin?
What does it mean to you to be led by the Spirit?
*For a more comprehensive list of differences, check out this post called Leadership vs Management.