Creating a Personal Theology of Leadership
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon explained there is nothing new under the sun, so it should not surprise anyone that many times that which appears to be new was conceived earlier. As the body of knowledge enlarges in a particular discipline, that expansion sometimes bumps into something previously revealed. Great men and women from times past have provided a very rich source of material for the development of theology of leadership. These individuals applied godly principles to form deep, yet practical theologies, sometimes even during the darkest periods of human history. Two of these individuals were Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Mother Teresa, whose theologies of leadership contributed greatly to shaping the concept of God-centered leadership. Their efforts resonate throughout the church today, and impact church leaders around the world.
The Christian Leaders’ Theologies of Leadership Discussed
The theology of leadership gleaned from each of these leaders bears the mark of intense faith exercised under drastic conditions. The context in which Dietrich Bonhoeffer developed his theological framework was the oppressive cloud of National Socialism in Nazi Germany (Nullens, 2013). Mother Teresa, on the other hand, developed her theology of leadership and servanthood in the streets Calcutta, serving the poorest of humanity. Both examples provided an environment that called for an effective faith and a practical theology.
Theological reflection, according to Bonhoeffer, must be much more than an academic exercise, and should directly impact the church (Vanden Berg, 2009). The essence of true Christianity, according to Bonhoeffer, rests in the necessary connection between truth and goodness (Vanden Berg, 2009). Bonhoeffer described two possibilities for the source of truth: the evil one, who would have humanity believe it rests within themselves, or God Himself, who spoke the truth as revealed through Christ (Himes, 2011). Bonhoeffer’s position underscored helping the church apply the truth, and in so doing, provided Christ’s presence in the world (Vanden Berg, 2009). He envisioned Christians connected to one another in the church in mutually edifying relationships whereas their presence in the world serves as a witness to Christ (Franklin, 2007).
Mother Teresa formed her theology of leadership while tending to the destitute and dying. She is popularly characterized as a sweet little old lady (Poplin, 1999). More accurately, she was strong and no-nonsense, however, she was loving, and lived a life of sacrifice (Poplin, 1999). Her ministry was based on Matthew 25:41-45 where Jesus told the disciples that whoever met the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs by attending to the least among them, was the same as ministered to Him (Poplin, 1999).
Her work with the Missionaries of Charity was focused, while addressing other needs as secondary. The Missionaries of Charity fundamentally addressed the people’s...