“Leadership” in the Image of God

[August 29, 2009] Although Wayne Hart did not give his presentation this title, I hope it sort of captures his message, which is summarized more-or-less as follows:

Dr. Myles Munroe has some very interesting notions of “leadership” that he seems to get from the first couple of chapters in the book of Genesis. In his book, The Spirit of Leadership [New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2005] he notices several things about the nature of the human beings created in chapter one.

The first (not necessarily in the same order as the book) is that God makes the humans with a purpose in mind: managing the earth and its resources. He wants human beings and animals to multiply and fill the earth. They are to “have dominion” or “rule” the creatures. In order to do this, God gives them the necessary attributes and abilities.

[Editor’s note: The idea of “dominion” over animals suggests that they probably also have all the necessary attributes to respond to this “dominion” appropriately. Unlike the teaching of the founder of our former denomination, this suggests that amimals are in fact intelligent.]

Where do these human attributes enabling “dominion” come from? Dr. Munroe suggests that the pattern of how God speaks in creation tells us a lot (p. 87-89). God speaks to the earth and tells it to produce vegetation . He speaks to the sea and it produces the creatures of the sea. When it comes to humanity, God speaks to Himself. This suggests that the important elements in the human makeup are derived from His own nature.

The next thing he notices is that this “dominion” does not extend to domination over other human beings. “According to the original design, we’re not supposed to dominate other people but to have dominion over the earth and its resources. When we don’t understand this distinction, we manipulate and abuse others and frustrate the expression of their own God-given leadership nature” (p. 103).

Another thing he notices is that this leadership ability that comes from God is an attribute of both male and female human beings (p. 153). Both genders are called upon to share in the rulership of the earth because it is a part of their shared calling and equipping (Gen. 1:26-27). [Ed. note: male domination does not begin until Gen. 3 as part of the result of human sin.]

This leads him to say, “The fact is that true leadership is not control or manipulation of others, but it is others people’s willful submission of their authority to yours, motivated by inspiration.”

At this point, Waynes takes exception to Dr. Munroe’s otherwise excellent conclusions. If there is no domination of other human beings by human beings, then his wording is completely wrong for the situation he is attempting to describe. If every human being is a leader, then nobody is submitting their authority to anyone else! What is happening is very different: each one is adding their authority to the idea being put forward by the “leader.”

Real “leadership” is not a game where you get a “leader” who is surrounded by “followers” who do what he tells them. Perhaps another way to say it is that “leadership” is the addition of each person’s personal authority to an idea – eventually forming a consensus.

In the group conversations generated both during and after our session, it was pointed out by several that the word “leadership” should probably be replaced by something more like “management.” Human beings are actually designed to be “managers” rather than “leaders,” for instance. This is certainly true, yet one weakness of the word “management” is that in modern parlance, it seems to refer primarily to the “control” part of leadership of an organization without really speaking to the creativity and initiative that Dr. Munroe believes are also vital to our human mission on earth. We human beings are intended to be strategic planners, organizers, and creative problem-solvers on and for this planet’s ecology and resources.

All we have to do now is figure out how to “manage” all that in ways that do not abuse or dominate others. [And Wayne can tell me if I managed to relay this summary in a way that did not too badly damage his message.]


About John Valade

I facilitate and teach in Wascana Fellowship. I have been married to Wanda since 1984. M.Div. from Briercrest Seminary, SK in 2011 and B.R.E. Canadian Bible College (now Ambrose University College) in 2000.
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One Response to “Leadership” in the Image of God

  1. Pingback: Pre-Origen Knowledge of Variants, Smart Animals « James’ Ramblings

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