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In 1978 James McGregor Burns released his groundbreaking book on transformational leadership titled, Leadership. Subsequent volumes have been written on transformational leadership, and time and paper length do not allow for a full treatment on the subject. However a few salient points are important in understanding the topic.
Transformational leadership is distinguished from and contrasted with transactional leadership. In 1978 Burns wrote, The relations of most leaders and followers are transactional—leaders approach followers with an eye to exchanging one thing for another: jobs for votes, or subsidies for campaign contributions. Such transactions comprise the bulk of the relationships among leaders and followers, especially in groups, legislatures, and parties.
Transforming leadership, while more complex, is more potent. The transforming leader recognizes and exploits an existing need or demand of a potential follower.
But, beyond that, the transforming leader looks for potential motives in followers, seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower. The result of transforming leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may covert leaders into moral agents.89
Transformational leadership, then, concerns itself not just with the goal or desired outcome but also seeks to incorporate the competencies and needs of those who will actually carry out the tasks at hand. Transformational leadership is equally concerned with the people as much as the task. Bernard Bass adds further insight on the difference between the transactional and transformational leader.
The [transactional/transformational] model portrays transactional leadership as contingent reinforcement. Reinforcement is in the form of a leader’s promises and rewards or threats and disciplinary actions; reinforcing behavior is contingent on the follower’s performance. The transformational leader moves the follower beyond selfinterests and is charismatic, inspirational, intellectually stimulating, and / or individually considerate.90 Burns further contrasts the leadership styles of transformational and transactional leaders in respect to developing new leaders.
Instead of exercising power over people, transforming leaders champion and inspire followers…. As leaders encourage followers to rise above narrow interests and work together for transcending goals, leaders can come into conflict with followers’ rising sense of efficacy and purpose. Followers might outstrip leaders. They might become leaders themselves. That is what makes transforming leadership participatory and democratic.”91 Transformational leadership is what is required to tap into the hearts of volunteers. They want to be involved in efforts that call them to live out their calling as Christ-followers.
It is also of interest to note that most people are inherently attracted to the qualities of a transformational leader over a transactional leader. Note the outcomes of
the following study:
When peers of VMI (Virginia Military Institute) military cadet leaders were asked what characterized the important traits of a good leader, they tended to describe traits Bass, 3.
Burns, Transforming Leadership, 26.
of inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration such as: selfconfidence, persuasiveness, concern for the well being of others, the ability to articulate one’s ideas and thoughts, providing models to be emulated by others, holding high expectations for themselves and others, keeping others well-informed, maintaining high motivation in themselves….Invariably, for well over 2,000 trainees, the characteristics of the ideal leader included the components of transformational leadership….92 Transformational leadership not only brings about transformation of the leaders and followers but also has the potential to bring about transformation on a grand social scale. Burns writes, “Summoned forth by human wants, the task of leadership is to accomplish some change in the world that responds to those wants. Its actions and achievements are measured by the supreme public values that themselves are the profoundest expressions of human wants.”93 In other words, transformational leadership is needed to change the world. Transformational leadership is needed in situations where people, volunteering from their hearts, are needed to bring about change. Transactional leadership will not do if one expects to mobilize people toward “supreme public values” or kingdom values.
Burns is also careful to point out the differences between “change” and “transform.” His definitions are illuminating in respect to personal or corporate transformation.
To change is to substitute one thing for another, to give and take, to exchange places, to pass from one place to another. These are the kinds of changes I attribute to transactional leadership. But to transform something cuts much more profoundly. It is to cause a metamorphosis in form or structure, a change in the very condition or nature of a thing, a change into another substance a radical change in outward form or inner character, as when a frog is transformed into a prince or a carriage maker into
an auto factory. It is change of this breadth end depth that is fostered by transforming leadership.94 This depth of transformational change is the type of change that is necessary for transforming Christians, churches, and communities; the difference is not merely a difference in degree but a difference in kind. Transformational leadership goes far beyond leaders who are trying to mobilize followers to accomplish something. Transformational leadership seeks to tap into the hearts, desires, and motivations of people, who themselves are being transformed, in order to change their communities and perhaps the world.
There are two stakeholders in the outcome of this project—the participating churches, and LN. The participants of the study are the thirty-three churches who were participants in the first three EFCLCs. Each church was selected to be a part of an LC by means of an application process. Ideally each church is an innovator or early adopter in externally focused ministry. In reality, all churches were engaged at some level in externally focused ministry. What they had in common, regardless of age, size, or current externally focused ministries, was their desire and passion to exponentially expand their impact outside the walls of the church. From personal interviews and baseline data taken from their application, each church indicated the desire to launch an increasing number of people into the community to proclaim the gospel in deed and word.
The second stakeholder in this study is LN, the sponsor of the EFCLCs. Because the LC process is an innovation of LN, and those who lead these LC gatherings often feel
as though we are “building the airplane while flying it,” the outcomes of this study are very important for at least two reasons. First, as previously mentioned, although each of these churches paid a tuition fee of $3000 to $5000, the LCs are, for the most part, donor sponsored. Like all responsible donors, LN’s donors look for the return of their philanthropic dollar. A positive outcome may be a catalyst to increased giving and signal other potential donors to join the sponsorship.
Secondly, LN is using the LC process to significantly advance the progress in several other areas of church mission. Currently LN has formed LCs for multi-site churches, churches with strong recovery ministries, church planting churches along with several others that are in the launch phase or will launch in the near future. The outcomes of this study will be looked upon with eagerness.
Having addressed the ministry context of this project through historical, sociological and organizational lenses, chapter four addresses the biblical issues and implications of this project. Both chapters are foundational for establishing the context of this project.
This chapter examines the biblical and theological foundations for externally focused ministry. Because of the richness of texts related to those on the margins of society (178 verses on the poor, 103 verses on widows, 39 verses on the fatherless, 37 verses on strangers, 102 verses on aliens, 60 verses on the sick, 47 verses on the oppressed, 6 verses on orphans, 55 verses on the needy, etc.) and the role of God’s people in doing good, a thorough exegesis of each passage would prove impossible in the confines of this paper. I will, however, attempt to explore five biblical themes of externally focused ministry that although are not exhaustive, are sufficient to provide a foundation for leaders who desire to engage in ministry outside the walls of the church.
The first theme will be an overview of the creation story that sets the stage for “the way things ought to be.” The second theme will be selected passages from the Old Testament that reveal God’s heart towards those on the margins of society. The third theme will be some of the major ideas around the kingdom of God. The fourth theme will address the teachings and praxis of Jesus. The fifth theme pertains to Scriptures concerning good works and good deeds.
In Eden there was wholeness. Man and woman lived in harmony with their environment and talked freely and openly with God. They were knowing-recipients of God’s good gifts. There was physical work to be done in the garden, tending plants and nurturing fruit-bearing trees. They were told they could eat and enjoy the fruit of their labor. There was also creative work to be done that would summon the best of their creativity in naming the animals with the finality that “whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name” (Gen. 2:19).
Man and woman were not only in fellowship with God, they were in partnership with God; perhaps not full-partners, but junior partners. God created the living plants in the garden, but man was given the responsibility to “work it and take care of “the garden (Gen.
2:15). God “created the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air” (Gen. 2:19) but he entrusted to man the responsibility of naming each animal. Man was also created for leadership in God’s dominion. There were no creatures formed that were higher in God’s creative hierarchy than man himself. It was humankind who was created to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock…and over all the earth” (Gen.
1:26). The climate was such that man had no need of clothing and there was seemingly no need, or at least mention, of permanent shelter.
In this idyllic setting God was clearly in charge. It was his domain, and he set boundaries defining what was and was not permissible. Man lived in harmony with woman—a partner taken from his own flesh. Her well-being was attached to and could not be separated from his well-being and his good. They would be united as one and be called husband and wife—terms that only have definition in the context of the corresponding opposite, but then there was a great interruption.
The great interruption was called “sin” and everything changed. But the brokenness was not the way that God intended it. It was the aberration of a broken world filled with violence or indifference towards1 and hatred of neighbor, exploitation of the weak, tribal factions, drunkenness, marital strife, conniving, and chicanery. But God had a redemptive plan. From this broken world he called forth a nation—a nation through which he would reveal his plan and work his redemption and partially, though not completely, restore the world to the way it is supposed to be. That nation was Israel.
Israel was different from the nations around her. God gave to this nation something he has never done before or since. He formed a covenant with this nation and gave to her people a code of ethics regarding behaviors and relationships —collectively known as “the Law.” The Law, not only directed people towards loving God, it was also the directive towards loving one’s neighbor. The law was a reminder that God was very interested in the destiny of every person including the poor, the weak, the aliens, and the vulnerable—the people in every society without power or voice. From the beginning God has given to his people the responsibility for looking out for those on the margins.
Exodus to Deuteronomy The early chapters of the Old Testament reveals the centrality of the importance of God’s inclination towards the vulnerable. When the Law is first given to Moses as recorded in Exodus and Leviticus, alongside the moral and ceremonial laws, God addresses how his people were to care for and treat the widows, orphans, and the poor— those without voice or power (cf. Exod. 20:9-10, Exod. 22:21, Exod. 22:22-23, Exod. 23:6, Exod. 23:11, Lev. 19:10, Lev. 19:33-34, Lev. 23:22, Lev. 25:35, etc.). God addresses Cain’s answer to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9) demonstrates the devastating consequences of sin. In many ways the rest of the Bible is God’s answer to this question.
issues of justice, provision, equality, mutuality, and full participation in the community.
The book of Leviticus contains the radical concept of forgiving debt, releasing the indentured and returning land to the original owners every fifty years in the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25-27). Such a system, when lived out, would prevent generational poverty and sends a message about who is important in a community as well as what is important.