The Trinity and Leadership
By John Duff
As a young person trying to follow God in his life, I am very happy to be serving at St. Luke with a great team of leaders who have chosen to follow God together. You may know that one of the concepts embedded in the DNA of St. Luke UMC is team leadership. Today I want to discuss how this concept comes from our doctrine of the Trinity and provide some examples of how this is demonstrated by the leadership practices at St. Luke.
First, let’s talk about the Trinity. Yes; I know; it blows my mind too! In fact, the Trinity is one of the most beautiful and staggering doctrines that we as Christians hold to. Without getting into too much, I will say that I love the idea of Trinity because it answers so many questions that other mono-theistic religions can’t answer well. Questions like: was God lonely before creation? Or: If love is all about self-giving, why does it look like God is all about himself? Anyway, I could get caught up in this, but that is not the point of my sharing today.
One of the greatest characteristics that we see in the Trinity is that of, self-surrender and mutual deference in leadership. Put a little more simply, we see that each person of the Trinity is not out to claim power in leadership, but gladly defers to the others and wants to see the others succeed. Each takes their turn leading, but does not feel threatened when it is someone else’s turn and gladly hands the reigns over to the other. When one person of the Trinity shines, so do the rest!
We can see this in scripture. In John 3:35 Jesus tells us, “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” Sometimes we mistakenly think the Father is the top of the ladder of the Trinity and that ultimately the other two are there to serve him; but that is not the picture we get here. If the Father gladly places everything in the Son’s hands, he is not out for self-glorification, but rather wants the best for the Son and allows him to get the spot light. In fact he is happy to take the back seat and let the Son get the glory.
In John 16:7, Jesus tells his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” I often wonder if Jesus’ disciples thought he was out of his mind when he said this. They had followed him for 3 years, and now he was telling them that they would be better off if he left! Yeah right Jesus! But only Jesus knows how great the Holy Spirit is that is coming after him. And he is excited for the disciples. It is as if he is saying, “Guys, you think I’m great; just wait until you meet Him! He is even better and will guide you into better things!” Jesus doesn’t want it to be all about himself, he wants the disciples to know how good the Holy Spirit is.
All this being said about the Trinity, it is important that church leadership takes the Trinity as their model for leadership rather than the leadership models that the world suggests. One very visible way you can see this happening at St. Luke is in the way that Pastor Mark has encouraged others to be preaching recently. Mark gladly steps aside to make room for others to share what they have to offer. No leader at St. Luke is threatened by the other, we gladly encourage one another in our gifts and step aside when it is opportune to allow others to lead. Christian leadership is not about self-promotion (it’s not about you, or us), but about promoting and glorifying God; so why not step out of the way and let others lead in their own unique way? This comes easier when we realize we are all on the same mission, God’s mission. As Paul says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
In conclusion, I hope this discourse into the life of the Trinity and how the leadership at St. Luke tries to model God was helpful. Each member of the Trinity loves and offers itself to one another, and then invites the whole world into that circle of self-giving relationships. May those of us who call ourselves St. Luke UMC always use God as our model for leadership and all aspects of life.