Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Servant leadership

The situation in Southern Africa at present made me think once again about the importance of leaders being called to serve. The political situation in Zimbabwe, South Africa’s northern neighbour, is extremely tense as Robert Mugabe still refuses to disclose the outcome of the presidential election in that country. Swaziland’s newspaper today reported that Zimbabweans fleeing from their own country are now starting to find refuge in Swaziland. At the same time the struggle for a true democracy in Swaziland also continues, with many people feeling that the system of an absolute monarchy, as we have it in Swaziland, is not beneficial for the country and the citizens anymore.
Last Thursday, as we were having our “handing out of the towels” ceremony at Mantambe, which you can read about here, I made some remarks about leadership. Present at the ceremony were a number of politicians, local leaders as well as the member of parliament for that area. I told the new caregivers that the world has dictated to us what a leader looks like. We do certain personality tests in which a person’s dominance is determined or people are placed in a certain situation where they need to display their leadership abilities. In the political sphere people have to make speeches as well and the person who can speak the best and has the greatest ability to persuade someone to accept his or her viewpoint, is considered to be the best leader. (The people really enjoyed that remark!) I’m not all that clued up with American politics, but I have an idea that this is exactly what is happening in the USA today as they prepare themselves for their presidential election. (OK, I know that things are much more complex than this, but the point I was trying to make is that the world has certain ideas about leadership and the church seems to have adopted those same principles.)
One thing which I have always found lacking in our church in Swaziland is people with real leadership potential. Some of them have come forward, but they tend to follow the example of the televangelists, shouting and running around and claiming all kinds of miracles and thinking that they have then become leaders. One of the greatest perks of our home-based caring projects was that people from whom I never expected it in the past, suddenly revealed tremendous leadership potential. We never did personality tests on them. They did not make speeches to convince others to choose them. It happened, I believe, because these people revealed the leadership abilities which Jesus spoke about, which is the ability to serve others.
This would obviously make sense in any Christian project focussed on serving the community. But the longer I’m part of the established church, the more I believe that this is true for the church in general. The church is in need of servant leaders. (And if I look at the situation in Zimbabwe and Swaziland, then I am convinced that if this Biblical principle should be applied by politicians, that the normal people would also benefit from such leaders!)


Monday, April 14, 2008 - Posted by | Africa, Church, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Indigenous church, Meetings, Mission, Swaziland, Theology

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