Recently a friend suggested reading Colossians 1 and 4 through the lens of relational leadership. Our conversation focused on hierarchical leadership and whether or not that is what the early church modeled. I would encourage you to do the same study. Read Colossians 1 and 4 and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does Paul model leadership?
  • Who are the people Paul mentions?
  • How does he reference their role in the life of the church?
  • What else does he say?
  • What does he not say?
  • What seem to be the relational dynamics at work in this book and why are they important to pay attention to?

After reading through the passages, here are a few of my take away’s:

  • Paul’s impact primarily stemmed from discipling Ephapharas, prayer, and reminding them of what was their’s in Christ.
  • Paul’s references to specific leaders were coupled with the term fellow-servant. To me this reveals the role of a leader is primarily found in serving others, not in lording over them.
  • Paul magnifies Jesus and His supremacy therefore his leadership is focused on presenting everyone perfect (complete) in Christ. I realized Paul’s heartbeat was to develop big people that knew who Christ is in them, not big followings that overly rely on him.
  • There are multiple references to people who are sharing with Paul what is happening among the people of Colosse. Paul trusted others therefore he constantly empowered those around him to take the next frontier and surpass him in fruitfulness. I would guess Paul believed part of his calling was making others fruitful.

All these thoughts challenge the hierarchical paradigm that pervades American society. Jesus modeled a different paradigm and Kingdom and in these chapters we see Paul modeling the same leadership paradigm of servant-based bottom up leadership. Even Paul’s directives were reminders of completing the work a leader received from God not necessarily from him (see Col 4:17).

May we be inspired to live and lead in a different manner than the majority of leadership models. It may not make you famous and sought after as the next big thing but I would wager than in the end your impact will extend beyond your lifetime. Here’s to learning to lead from the bottom!

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