Leader or Manager?

The difference between a manager and a leader is the internal urge to alter the status quo to create a different world.  In that sense leaders are prophets.  They see the present as incomplete and inadequate and are willing to risk the comfort of the present for the promise of a better tomorrow.  A manager, on the other hand, is content to keep the organization running as smoothly and efficiently as it can function. A manager serves to keep the plane in the air, whereas a leader wants to put a new engine on the plane midair.

A manager wants to approach the inevitable chaos with the tried and true methods that have worked in the past. In contrast, a leader knows that as difficult as it is to bring about change, not to do so will destroy the community. There can be no freedom from the bondage of the daily rut without the chaos that comes from leading people out of the status quo.

Dan Allender, “Leading With A Limp”

A leader who desires nothing more than the status quo becomes an ostrich with its head in the sand. A leader must be troubled and discontent, and he must ask the question, How can tomorrow be better than today? He must be a visionary, living in the tension between how to honor what is good and true today and yet be discontent with today in lght of what could transpire tomorrow. He is torn between what is and what could be, yet he speaks the future into the present due due to his compelling desire for change. P. 58 “Leading With A Limp”

2 comments

  1. Well written, Michael. I have a MA in Leadership and I’ve been down this road on many occasions. But lately, I’ve been re-considering what the Bible says about this. I think your statement, leaders are prophets is key here. They thing is, we tend to want to redefine prophet in the process.

    I’m reminded of the saying that Maxwell made so common. “If you’re leading but no one is following, you’re just out for a walk.” That statement, in light of the prophets is just just plain wrong. At least from the perspective of the leader/prophet. Prophet spoke truth, no matter who followed. The prophets lived the vision that God gave them, no matter who listened.

    We shouldn’t ever settle for the status quo. You’re right about that. We should push against that with all our might. The problem as I see it, is one status quo that we have welcomed is that of the church leader’s job as the dream maker of the organization. It isn’t. God is the dream maker. Our job is simply to constantly deliver the Word.

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    1. For the most part I agree. As leaders we should not arbitrarily come up with a vision or a dream. God’s Word defines what the church should look like. With that said, the leader will have to work hard to make sure the church is living in God’s Story and not a consumeristic, cultural story. The leader will have to push forward with this and it will be costly and painful for the leader (pushing out of our comfort zone usually is). Thanks for joining the discussion!

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