Here are four principles of leadership we see in Matthew 20:25-28, Matthew 23:8-11 (note: that text is on leadership!), and 1 Peter 5:1-5:
- Leaders are not an elite class with special privileges (that’s Matthew 23:8-11).
- Leaders should not see themselves as privileged or entitled.
- Leaders should not use their power for personal enrichment or to unfairly maintain their power.
- Leaders are not to approach people from above, as a virtuoso. Instead, they are to take a position alongside, as a fellow traveler, a partner sharing the same burdens. They look across at others, not down. (Note Peter’s approach in 1 Peter 5:1-4.)
I am really impressed with the vision of Poverty Cure:
PovertyCure is an international coalition of organizations and individuals committed to entrepreneurial solutions to poverty that challenge the status quo and champion the creative potential of the human person.
This vision, rooted in their biblical understanding of poverty and the true solutions to it, is why I am so excited about their work. They recognize, as they summarize on their website, that the solution to poverty comes from partnerships, not paternalism; enterprise, not (primarily) aid; and empowerment, not dependency.
They have a new six-part DVD series on charity, justice, and human flourishing that fleshes out the core principles of their thinking, and which I am really looking forward to watching. The series is based on this premise: We often ask how we can alleviate poverty. But that’s the wrong question. “The real question is, how do people in the developing world create prosperity for their families and their communities?”
In other words, overcoming poverty is not first about bringing aid, though that matters. The long-term solution to poverty is in the people themselves, and we recognize this when we consider people in light of what the Scriptures have to say. People are innovative, creative, talented, and capable. One of the chief problems in the developing world is that injustice — often through lack of property rights and rule of law — shackles people from being able to create wealth. The best way to serve the global poor is thus to address these roots and help enable people to thus lift themselves out of poverty, rather than to focus on tactics that ultimately create a dependency rather than unleashing people’s innate potential.
I love how they put it in the DVD: “when you recognize that people are made in the image of God with creative capacity, it changes absolutely everything about how we approach charity, missions, and development.”
I hope to watch the full series soon, and will let you know my thoughts when I can.
I’m really looking forward to Hugh Whelchel’s recent book How then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. I’ve had a chance to dip into it a bit, and one of its stand-out features is a very helpful, succinct, and clear history of the different views on work and calling through the ages. I especially love his summary of Luther’s recapturing of the biblical view, especially his points that:
- Vocation is the specific call to love our neighbors. That’s the essential meaning of the doctrine of vocation.
- We live out this calling in the world, not by retreating from it. “Accord to Luther, we respond to the call to love our neighbor by fulfilling the duties associated with our everyday work.”
- “We can only truly serve God in the midst of everyday circumstances, and all attempts to elevate the significance of the contemplative life are false.”
Hugh is executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, whose mission is to equip Christians with a biblical theology of work and economics. They are doing excellent work, and I highly recommend them and their work.