Leadership in concept and practice lies in tension as we make the journey from the modern to postmodern period in both the secular and the religious realms. Contemporary theory and practice of leadership is moving toward a more relational and less directive model that impacts attitudes and behaviors in all sectors. In his book, Help! I’m Being Followed: What to Do When You’ve Been Called to Lead, Clinton Valley makes a contribution toward integrating these concepts into the life and function of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
As the title indicates, the author views leadership in the church as an interactive process (20) of community wherein leadership giftedness is not so much claimed by the individual (83) as acknowledged by way of affirmation and call from the body of believers. Valley challenges the traditional model of the heroic individualistic figure even further by suggesting that the spiritual leader remains accountable to the body subsequent to being called and may also be asked at the will of the body to step out of the position. This concept suggests that authority to lead becomes, not the property of the individual leader, but rather a gift of trust extended by the community of faith. It also challenges the top-down concept of hierarchy by placing authority with the body that calls members to serve in positions necessary to the process of leadership.
This book clearly identifies the Holy Spirit as the Source of spiritual leadership (46). The gifts of the Spirit provide the competency by which Christian leaders serve. Since all are gifted by the Spirit, Valley asserts that all should lead (18). This suggests that all members of the body of Christ are intended to serve a leadership function based upon their giftedness supported by a character consistent with that of the Master. The professional pastor and those called to full-time service in the church bear the responsibility of developing every member to effectively lead in the post of service appointed by the Spirit (89). This transformational focus on growing individuals as leaders requires an intentional move away from a managed approach that emphasizes control to a model of empowerment that validates the giftedness and potential of every member. Management and administrative skills are competencies necessary for the support of a transformational leadership model but should remain subordinate to the function of leadership (53, 55).
Valley, gently but consistently, recommends structural and attitudinal changes needed to support this mandate of leadership development. Leadership attitudes and methodologies are embedded in culture and in many cases serve the self-needs of positional leaders and are not easily changed. Valley appeals to the Bible and the life and leadership of the Master as our center post for guiding change in our leadership behaviors.
Neal C. Wilson states in the foreword that “we may not all agree with or feel comfortable with every aspect of Valley’s leadership models,” which is likely true, but the author has succeeded in giving us a base for prayer and reflection on how God’s people might approach leadership.