Differentiating Biblically: Part One

In order to lead people, there must be a difference between the leader and the follower. The leader, if he is to be helpful, must be able to separate from the followers. As Edwin Friedman says, “Differentiation is charting one’s own way by means of one’s own internal guidance system, rather than perpetually eyeing the “scope” too see where others are at” (183). Friedman doesn’t connect this process to the Spiritual truths of the Bible. As Believers, this process of differentiation is the necessary discipline of daily and regularly being immersed in the truths and riches of the Gospel.

Leaders who are incapable of finding some other source of stability (not in themselves or the community around them) will struggle with maintaining healthy and helpful boundaries. If Leaders find their stability in themselves, they will become discouraged as their strength, energy, and stamina fail -as it certainly will. Furthermore, relying on their own personal convictions as their “guidance system” will often cause leaders to be blind to their own faults. If leaders find their stability in the community around them, they will be unable to see the faults and downfalls of the members of the group. Furthermore, they will be unable to lead the community, instead they will end up being lead by the majority view of the group. In areas where they are required to stand up in conviction, they will undoubtedly be unable to do so, and allow sin or other bad behavior to continue.

Therefore, as Christian leaders, we ought to find our “guidance system” in Scripture. Rather than relying on their own strength to sustain them, Christian Leaders ought to rely on the strength that God supplies. Moreover, rather than being blinded by their own personal convictions and blind to their own faults, Christian leaders ought to seek the Scriptures for truth that will change them. Scripture will shape them; God’s grace will open their eyes to see areas of weakness and blindness in themselves as well as the group. In addition, finding their “guidance system” in Scripture will prevent leaders from leading their group merely according to their whims. The truth of Scripture gives leaders authority to call sin out, suggest changes in the group, and actually bring about true change (in themselves and the members of the group).

Therefore, in order to helpfully “differentiate” from the members of the group, the Leader must spend significant time in the word. The leader ought to constantly be asking for God’s grace to open their eyes to their personal sin and shortcomings. They ought to trust in God’s grace that brings about change. Leaders ought not to be content with their own sanctification; therefore, they ought to press deeply into Scripture and seek to press it deeper into their own hearts and lives. They should also seek to the same for the members of their group. A differentiated leader, one based in Christ -not in themselves or the group- will eventually help the group look more like Christ, not themselves.

Always, Only for my King,
Josiah

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