Most of us have heard and even read writings about being a humble leader, a servant leader, a compassionate leader or even a principle-based leader. Assuming these titles emanate from a gospel-based center, they do indeed represent worthy facets of leadership that can inform and enlighten how we lead ourselves and those entrusted to our influence. With that said, there is another aspect of leadership that I recently had the opportunity to explore and discuss with some leaders in an environment we call Renovation University (Reno U). Reno U is a cohort of nine men who are leading ministry in this region who gather quarterly to discuss the personal and public nuances of ministry leadership.
In this most recent session, I led a conversation related to being a generous leader for I believe generosity is found in the middle of God's heart and is at the core of Christ's mission. Jesus himself states in the book of Matthew that we are not to look at leadership the way the world does. To borrow a concept from G. K. Chesterton, to do so would seem practical when in fact what is needed is something unpractical. The gospel from the viewpoint of the world is most unpractical and so therefore is leadership emanating from it. Jesus makes this point in the following passage:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)
Jesus came to serve and to give himself, his very life, away for the sake of humanity and in accordance to the mission and purposes of God. Jesus gave himself to grow something—to grow something in people—a one of a kind righteousness and to grow his Father's kingdom. As such, I believe we as followers of Christ, especially those in positions of leadership who are influencing the spiritual formation of others, need to do the same—give your lives away and in doing so, grow something in others and in turn, grow the Kingdom. So, in other words, we need to be generous. We need to be generous with our time, with our resources and with our abilities.
Even so, there is more to it than just being generous. Our generosity needs to have a purpose, a point, an intended outcome. God gave his very best, himself for his eternal purposes—to reconcile and redeem a lost and broken creation. We should do the same, that is give our very best. So in other words, we need to give our very best for the purposes of God. When we give our time, we should be at our best. When we give of our resources, it should represent the best we can do. When we offer our abilities, it should be done so with the best we have, for God did not spare any expense in his generosity towards us. Why should we act any different? In fact, God is so generous that he actively gets involved in our generosity when we extend it for the sake of others related to his purposes. The Apostle Paul makes this point in his letter to the Corinthian church.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. (2 Corinthians 9:8, 10 NIV)
It is clear that as leaders and Christ-followers we need to be generous. We give not to get but to grow. We give to grow a harvest of righteousness. This should be our aim and our intent when we give of our time, our money and our abilities. We give to grow a harvest of righteousness for this is what God did, does, and will do. When we cooperate with him in this regard he personally and specifically will get involved with what we are doing.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10, 11 NIV)
So, in summary are you, am I, a generous leader? We should be and can be. God gave his very best and I believe he expects us to do the same in relation to this world. A harvest of righteousness awaits us if we give in accordance to God's purposes and plan. May we be generous and cheerful givers as we give the very best we have for sake of others to grow a harvest of righteousness.