There is a specific type of person found in scripture that is often overlooked, or even excused away, under the guise of a ‘strong leadership’ descriptor. They possess an attribute one should not strive for, nor is this attribute celebrated by the scriptures. It erodes trust and it defiles relationships. God has not given us the Spirit of fear yet this type of leader chooses to take up the mantle and assign fear freely. It has nothing to do with personality traits or types and it is not permissible by uttering the trite, overused phrase, ‘I’m keeping it real’.
At one time you may have served under this type of leader, or perhaps this is your present circumstance. You may think there is something wrong with you. You may think you are inadequate or that you are the source of your leader’s actions. I’d love to say that you are wrong. There may, in fact, be a reason that your leader is consistently frustrated or angry with you. Perhaps you are rebellious in spirit, disrespectful, or lack integrity. Maybe you are divisive or lazy and the constant barrage of these demonstrations has pushed your leader to their emotional end. But in the event that none of these are the culprit and you find yourself serving this type of leader, this post is for you.
I am writing of the Quick-Tempered Leader. The Yosemite Sam of leaders. When they call you to their office you cringe, take a deep breath, and brace yourself for the attack. They do not handle conflict well and they do not appreciate a difference of opinion. Diplomacy avoids them like a winning season avoids the Cleveland Browns. They are meaner than a wet panther and you are just one of many recipients of their fury.
How do you serve such a leader? How do you respond to them? Are they right in their actions? Is this simply a “Type A” thing? Should you model their leadership? Are you this type of leader and didn’t realize it?
If you search the Bible for the quick-tempered person you will find over 30 scriptures dedicated to them, but not in a positive way. Here is a glimpse of God’s perspective of this person:
They act foolishly (Proverbs 14:17)
They are hated (Proverbs 14:17)
They stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1)
They do not produce righteousness (James 1:20)
They lack understanding (Proverbs 14:29)
They stir up strife (Proverbs 15:18)
They are unforgiving (Proverbs 19:11)
They should not be befriended (Proverbs 22:24-25)
They are fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
They lead others to evil (Psalm 37:8)
They should not be in church leadership (Titus 1:7-8)
They are reckless and careless (Proverbs 14:16)
That list does not look good on a resume. The worst thing that can happen to this leader is that they find success as they will surely attribute a portion of their achievement to their tenacity, not matter how dysfunctional it may be. They will use it as permission to continue to act in an ungodly manner because surely God has blessed them. Even more so, to reproduce themselves in the lives of their followers invites a whole new level of tragedy.
Or maybe you are this leader. As you recall your interactions with others you realize that they seem inexplicably nervous when meeting with you. Perhaps you’ve found yourself defending hurtful words you’ve spoken, declaring, “they are just too sensitive”. You may also find that you don’t have any friends with whom you can be truly vulnerable. In fact, you may not have many friends at all. As much as you’d like to believe this is your choice, it’s likely not. It’s that others don’t see in you a person that can reciprocate authentic Godly relationship.
We live in a society that seems to immortalize the dysfunctional, yet successful, leader. Steve Jobs is praised for his innovation yet destroyed people in the process. Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, JP Moran CEO Jamie Dimon, and Harvey Weinstein are all high level leaders who had a reputation for having a short fuse. Church leadership should not freely or knowingly embrace this type of leadership. We are called to lead like Jesus, not lead like an abusive CEO. Our position does not define our leadership style. Our leadership style should provide context for our position. Any leader that has arrived at their vocational pinnacle by abuse, bullying, condescension or prideful intimidation should be wary of the legacy they leave. Even more so when the legacy is centered in the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Such success is misleading.
How upsetting it would be to look over your life’s work and not see the multiplication of life and freedom but strongholds and humiliation?
No matter how successful the leader is, please, please, please do not model yourself after them or even seek to “win them over” by becoming like them or excusing their modus operandi. Pray for them, honor them, but flee their wake. They may be acting like the devil but that doesn’t mean you have to become one of his students.
Lead with grace, lead with love, and leave with a desire to serve first, rule last. It’s amazing what God will entrust to the person that walks in honor, integrity, and a right spirit. Find yourself to be slow to anger and you will see your Kingdom influence increase far beyond the limits set by a fear-based leadership.