I saw this article on the front page of yahoo a while back and it drew my attention:

Authorities say a dispute over leadership at a church in western North Carolina turned from angry words to fist fights. About 30 police officers from five agencies were called to break up fights Sunday at Greater New Zion Baptist Church in Fletcher, about 94 miles west of Charlotte. Henderson County Sheriff’s Capt. Jerry Rice says the brawl is under investigation and no one appears to have been seriously hurt.

Here’s a church that instead of representing Christ, has instead chosen selfish bickering as their method of dealing with disagreement. In John 13:35 Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” God has been teaching me a lot about leadership and authority lately and here’s what I think it comes down to. A godly leader doesn’t need followers. He just leads. He acts on the premise of the values and call God has given him and he steps out no matter who’s behind him.

A leader doesn’t necessarily have authority. Authority is something that can only be given, not grasped. Most people who recognize a good leader will want to follow. Some will just watch, gaining entertainment from an individual who is stepping outside the constraints of mundane normality. Some will follow inconsistently, waiting for the wind to bring carry the scent of the newest fad they will jump on. Others will see the vision and buy in fully. Many of these will voluntarily submit to the influence, advice and vision of a leader. That voluntary submission is the birth of authority. A wise leader recognizes how delicate and valuable is the gift he’s been given. A wise leader doesn’t wield authority like a club, but applies it in an embrace.

The world needs more men and women who are willing to employ the authority they’ve been given with an understanding of the delicate bond of agreement between them and those that have chosen to follow. The world also needs more people who are willing to invest in giving authority long-term to individuals who can help them grow and accomplish greater visions, despite the occasional offenses and failures that may come. Leadership trickles down, authority is handed up, and grace is the rope that holds the two together. Without grace, the whole house tumbles down in bitterness and disappointment as the vision fizzles like flame in water.

Sounds like what happened to the unfortunate group in North Carolina. Can we do better?