Monday, April 27, 2015

The Nature of Christian Leadership

The quest to identify an ideal model of leadership that leaders can replicate in order to have better functioning organizations continues to be a challenge for leaders (Kouzes and Posner, 1987). This has lead writers such as Greenleaf, Winston and Brauna to explore the nature of Christian leadership, which has the capacity to change the moral fiber of man and society. This unique model has shown the potential to revolutionize leadership as we know it, and invariably create more successful organizations. To fully understand the implications of Christian leadership we must first understand its nature. Hence the questions: what are the fundamentals on which this type of Leadership is based? Why this style of leadership gained preeminence in the work of so many scholars and has proven to be so effective in Biblical Testaments...? What is the nature of Christian leadership that sets it apart from secular leadership styles? In order to ascertain answers to these questions this paper examines the nature of Christian leadership by studying and analyzing Jesus' Leadership in the 9th chapter in the gospel of Matthew, verses 20-22, by explicitly looking at the attributes which formed the core of Jesus' Leadership. To assist readers to fully comprehend the nature of Christian leadership in this passage, this paper employs an inter-textual and inner texture approach from Socio rhetoric Interpretation. By examining Jesus' leadership from different perspectives readers are provided with a more wholesome view of the nature of Jesus' leadership style. This paper therefore, examines attributes such as: Godly principles, love and purpose of Jesus' leadership as well as their importance to what constitute Christian leadership. It is my intention that readers will utilize the findings in this paper to enhance their leadership styles which will invariably lead to better leadership and healthier organizations. Background Matthean gospel holds much value to the understanding of Christian leadership as it is deemed to have had more influence on the development of the early church and consequently, Christianity. There seems to be much discrepancy about the authorship of Matthew (Desilva, 2004). Some scholars claim that it was written by Matthew, an eye witness, one of the twelve, while others cited the reliance on Mark gospel as evidence against him being an eye witness. Matthew is said to have utilized not only Mark as a source but also the Q. The language while bearing marked similarities to Mark is more elaborate. The Matthean gospel is said to have been written prior to the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. The citation of various Jewish customs, without accompanying explanations, woven throughout Matthew suggests that it was written for a Jewish audience. In order to portray Christ as the King and Messiah of Israel, Matthew utilizes various quotes from the Old Testament, thus all the principal themes are grounded in the Old Testament. Method In analyzing Matthew 9:20-22, socio rhetorical criticism is employed to assist in understanding the intricacies of this passage. Socio rhetorical criticism is a method of analyzing text by looking at the values, conviction and beliefs in the text in relation to the world (Robbins, 1996). There are five approaches in this method of analyzing text: Inner texture, inter texture, social and cultural texture, ideological texture and sacred texture. (Desilva, 2004). For the purposes of examining Matthew 9:20-22, an intertexture is first done to provide a conceptual understanding of the existing culture in that era. This is followed by an inner texture approach to help in comprehending the passage. Inner texture refers to the different ways that a text manipulates language to provide more detailed understanding of the text. The argumentative texture is one branch of understanding the inner working of a text. It provides reasons for readers to think and act in a specific manner. The inter-textual method of analyzing a text, studies the specific text in relation to other texts outside of the particular text. This method of analyzing a text may use different approaches and includes the use of other text in relation to the text being studied, in order for readers to fully grasp the meaning of the text. The use of both approaches provides a richer and fuller meaning of the text. Intertexture Analysis In order to understand Matthew 9:20-22, we must understand the history surrounding the two sects operating throughout that era; the Pharisees and the Sadducees. A study of the writings of Flavius Josephus, early rabbinical writings as well as the New Testaments provides an accurate description of these two groups. The term Pharisees is derived from the Hebrew perusim, which means "separated ones." Later findings suggest that it may have been derived from Hebrew parosim, meaning "specifier," They were regarded as puritans, in other words they were extremely passionate concerning the principles within the Mosaic laws, as well as those that they added to the Old Testament legislation (Huie, 2007). This sect is symbolic of the orthodox core of Judaism and had very strong influence on the Israelites. The Sadducees are said to have been named after Zadok, a priest during the stint of King David and King Solomon, other theorists presupposes that the name is a derivative from Zadok who lived in the 2nd century BCE. In the same vein there are others who believe the name "Sadducee" comes from the Hebrew tsadiq, which means righteous (Huie, 2007). The Sadducees were famous for their unbelief of supernatural happenings. Matt.22:23 express their refusal to believe the resurrection of the dead. This sect had no regards for tradition and despised legalism. In their view the Pentateuch was the only authority, they were often very affluent, aristocrats, member of the priestly tribes and under Herod's rule were the owners of the temple. The degrees of differences between these two groups created an imbalance with regards to the political views throughout that era. These two groups had opposing views/beliefs concerning laws, and regulations (Huie 2002). Matthew 9:20-22 is about the woman with the issue of blood. This story may be seen as an interruption, as it occurs while Jesus was on His way to heal Jarius's daughter. Matthew relates a story of a woman who had been bleeding for over twelve years. According to Jewish Law, this woman is deemed as unclean because of the insistent bleeding (Lev 15:25-27). This woman was scorned by family members and the society and was barred from synagogue and temples (MacArthur, 2005). A poor woman, Luke mentions that she had spent all that she had, looking for a cure. She was ostracized, an outcast by all accounts. As a result of her illness, the traditions of that era prevented women from touching men, it is possible that this is the reason she approached Jesus from behind and touched the hem of His garment. Her belief in Jesus to cure her was evident in her gesture to touch Him. Jesus did not criticize the woman because she opted to mix with people and thereby breaking all the conventions of that era. Instead He encouraged her "Take heart daughter your faith as made you whole, on approaching Jesus the woman thought "if" I touch his cloak I will be healed." This statement is often refers to as an enthymeme (Robins, 1996). Enthymeme is described as a syllogism in which one of the premises or the conclusion is not stated explicitly. In Matthew 9:20-22, the enthymeme 'if' is presented to make the statement logical or qualitative, implicit in this statement we can assume that Jesus posses special healing power. How did Jesus receive such power? The answer to this can be two fold, it could have been 'in born" or it could have been acquired. Authors of the first three synoptic gospels presupposes that Jesus power was from heaven and was given to him at his baptism (Matt 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22). (Robbins, 1999). It is possible that this woman's opinion runs concurrent to that of the authors in Matthew, Mark and Luke. This woman knew that Jesus had power and if she could touch him, His power was sufficient to heal her. This act to touch Jesus generates two points of view; On one hand it could have been construed that by touching a man of such power you are either foolish or simple minded and your action could have resulted in death. Biblical tradition showed where Uzzah touched the ark of God and died (2 Samuel 6.6-7). The converse is also true. Her actions could be interpreted from a bold perspective as an expression of her courage. In the Matthean Gospel special emphasis is place on Jesus' healing powers while in the Lukan gospel, the attention was deflected from Jesus but instead is centered on the woman's faith, (your faith as made you well). There are different implications based on Jesus' leadership in this story that helped to form the premise of Christian leadership. The needs of followers are important and should take precedence over issues that are less important, such as some aspects of the law. "This eternal principle is clearly spelled out by Jesus in Matthew 12:3-8, Mark 2:25-28 and Luke 6:3-5. Thank God His Son was not a legalist, or that poor woman would likely have received the back of His hand, rather than His healing touch." (Maxey, 2000). Matthews account provides the depth of compassion that Jesus had for the "common people" as well as the infinite power He possessed from God, that He freely used to help people. As a leader He was always accessible to his followers, this is evident in the large crowd that followed Him. People irrespective of their position could approach Him. This woman was poor; the Lukan account refers to the fact that she had spent all her money on doctors, trying to find a cure (Luke 8:40-49). She lost her status to the point of being referred to as a woman with the issue of blood... In a culture pervaded by the Pharisees and Sadducees with their different beliefs, Jesus did what he needed to do in order to fulfill the purpose of His mission. In showing love to even those who were deemed unworthy he fostered Godly principles which were emphasized in the golden rule... "do unto others as you would have them do unto you..." Jesus modeled the core of Christian leadership and left a pattern for current leaders to emulate by serving others. Conclusion The nature of Christian leadership is based on the fundamental issue that Jesus' leadership represents the quintessence of leadership, and may be viewed as a blue print of true leadership. To model this kind of leadership, contemporary leaders must first analyze the distinct leadership principles which are evident in Matthew 9:20-22. The story of the woman with the issue of blood, showed Jesus modeling leadership. By acknowledging the condition of the woman, by healing her and by further referring to her as daughter, Jesus transformed the spirit and ethos of leadership. In an era that was dominated by self-righteous dogmatists, he showed love, rendered service and never lost sight of His purpose to reach out to those who were ostracized. His values consistently guided His actions which resulted in a continuous increase of followers. Contemporary leaders should explore the benefits of Jesus' style of leadership as His style can create more successful transformative organizations. Article Source:

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