At the moment, I’m reflecting on Roxburgh’s metaphors for the kind of leadership needed in the church of today. You can read more about them in The Sky is Falling and various of his other books. It’s been inspiring me to think a little about the kind of leader I want to be; at the end of the series, I will probably tell you which of his metaphors I resonate with most and which ones I’d most like to learn from, preferably by hanging out with someone who leads in that way. Perhaps you also will comment where one of the metaphors inspire or resonates with you?
For Roxburgh, the apostle-leader seems to be something of a ‘doer’. Having heard the poet- and prophet-leaders articulate the community’s realities and the God-dreams into which that community is being invited, the apostle-leader sees their task as making those visions into reality, leading the people of God into the missio Dei. The drive of the leader as apostle seems to be a strong desire to make these God-dreams into a concrete reality.
Yet Roxburgh is careful to differentiate the apostle-leader from the leaders produced by modernity: to lead as apostle does not mean having all the answers, leading the people into the vision or plan uniquely revealed to the super-hero leader idolised by modernity. Rather, to lead as apostle in the context of liminality is to understand that the Spirit dwells amongst the people of God and he is the one uniquely able to reveal the plan of God, a revelation which comes when the missional imagination of the people is released so that they can discover and join in the work of the Spirit in their local contexts. In short:
The apostle builds on the work of the prophet by forming environments that empower people to engage their communities and contexts in terms of missio Dei… The apostle brings to leadership a practical focus on the outward journey of engagement with the culture… But the apostle isn’t simply outer-directed and action-orientated. This leader can theologically and ecclesiastically filter the lived context of a community through the lens of the gospel and shape environments that release people into missional life… What makes them different from prophets is the ability to form practical ways for the community to implement the visions and directions the Spirit is calling forth.
Do you know any apostle-leaders? Would you want to be one and why or why not?