EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following is an excerpt from The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders by Harry L. Reeder III with Rod Gragg (Crossway).

God’s Model for Leadership

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”Acts 17:6

Why do we do it? Why do Christians want to learn leadership from the world’s models when we know that “worldly wisdom” inevitably conflicts with the Word of God and brings chaos and despair? Genuine, effective leadership must be learned from God’s Word, developed through disciple making, nurtured in God’s church, and then transported into the world. When this happens, we can anticipate a consistent reproduction of multiplication leaders who have been transformed by biblical leadership.

It’s God’s chain reaction. A transformed leader produces more transformed leaders—leaders who have been mentored within the church, then sent out to impact the world. By God’s grace they will become change agents, and the process will continually repeat itself just as God intended. By faithfully applying the model of leadership revealed in the Word of God, the church can again turn the world upside down. At the moment, however, we face a cultural meltdown.

The American Models

The American church is standing at the brink of a self-inflicted death spiral accelerated by worldly leadership. God’s people are the “salt” and “light” of surrounding culture, so when the church begins its free fall, all of American culture will soon follow. What’s the poisonous elixir that the contemporary American church seems so determined to consume? The answer: the leadership model now practiced and promoted in the boardrooms of American big business. What? Is traditional American capitalism wrong?

Unbiblical? Dangerous? The answer is no—traditional capitalism is not the problem. The leadership model that is infecting the church today—with disastrous results—is a product of contemporary capitalism, which is a greed-based, wealth-consuming mutation that has replaced the historically Christian-influenced system of capitalism that created the wealth upon which our nation thrived and blessed the world. Today’s self-promoting, infected corporate leadership is a deadly potion that countless churches are drinking as they thoughtlessly imbibe the contemporary corporate leadership models of the day.

Christian influenced capitalism was put to work immediately on American soil, and helped to shape our nation in a powerfully positive manner. The fresh influence of the Protestant Reformation spilled into America’s English colonies, forging American law

and culture based on the Judeo-Christian worldview. Our nation was founded on that biblical consensus and flourished with it as it kept improving ethically and practically—until the American worldview completed its shift to humanism in the late twentieth century. The biblical worldview holds that God is the authority over all things, and that pleasing him should be the foundation of every endeavor. Secular humanism proclaims that man, not God, is the final authority and that everything exists for personal pleasure and affluence.

Historically, the influence of Christianity on American capitalism produced a huge and generally prosperous middle class that provided economic and cultural stability for the nation. Influenced by Christian leadership, traditional American capitalism increasingly promoted a lofty goal—that corporate success is not the consumption of wealth but the creation of it. It was not greed that was good, but doing good was good. The foundational ethic of traditional American capitalism—as influenced by Christianity— was not simply to “do what is good for business” but to “make it your business to do good.” Through the ages, Christian-influenced traditional American capitalism kept producing more and more extraordinary business leaders who also excelled as philanthropists by creating jobs, investing in the community, assisting the needy, providing meaningful public service, supporting the church, and in other ways making communities better. Surely there were a number of greedy business leaders, but they were marginalized, and certainly they were not celebrated as they are today. Historically in America, God’s people—the church—influenced American capitalism to practice a biblical model of servant leadership. Today, contemporary capitalism is influencing the church to practice a model of self-centered leadership. Yesterday the church produced effective servant leaders for the world of business. Today the world produces self-promoting leaders who are infecting the church.