Leadership: A Concept in Search of a (Theological) Definition

“Leadership” will, undoubtedly, find its way into the history books as one of the key buzzwords of the 20th and 21st centuries. Methods of leadership, approaches to leadership, degree programs in leadership, seminars on leadership—we are inundated with all these and more. But what exactly is leadership, theologically defined? To define something theologically means to state what it is in relation to God and in relation to all that is not God; it differs from a “biblical” definition (typically a synthesis of certain biblical texts that say something about leadership) or a “Christian” definition of leadership (typically a biblical ethic of leadership). In this paper I am primarily interested in leadership as a human endeavor before God. As a human endeavor, leadership sits within a series of concentric circles. The largest, outermost circle is image-bearing, the second circle is work, and the third circle is leadership. Thus work is a function of image-bearing, and leadership is a function of work. My series of definitions, therefore, is as follows: image-bearing is ruling over the rest of creation and representing God to it, work is improving creation as its stewards, and leadership is doing the work of getting the next generation ready to do the work.

3 thoughts on “Leadership: A Concept in Search of a (Theological) Definition”

Leave a Comment