Consultative Leadership

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Consultative Leadership or Making Decisions Together

Notes taken from a talk by Barry Austin who was, at the time, officially the Pastoral Co-ordinator for YWAM Europe.

Environment for Growth

How can we create an environment on the base that leads to growth in the individuals? The DTSs and BLSs don't just develop the students; they have an impact on all the staff in the UK. The values we are trying to create in the DTS are the ones we want in the staff of YWAM. Some of these values aren't being lived out in the staff or at home when they leave. How can we change the programme to impart the right change in lives and not just a transfer of information?

In this session we are going to look at an absolutely vital leadership value.

Mark 10:42-45: "Whoever wants to be great among you ..." The whole concept of servant leadership is a contradiction of terms. Leaders lead and servants serve; don't they? Jesus made a contrast between Gentile leadership and ours.

What is Leadership?

What is leadership in the Body of Christ? How is it different from the world's leadership? What are its distinctives? What is the difference between Christian 'followers' and business employees? The Christians are volunteers. How then are we to motivate people without a pay cheque? Morale matters a lot. We need to help them to serve the Lord. We are not better than those we serve. The relationship will be different to that in business, BUT the most significant different is that the people have a relationship with God---they have their own hotline with God. God is their head! They can have knowledge from God too. Each person we lead can hear from God. We cannot ignore this. In the New Covenant all have an intimate relationship with God. Contrast this with the Old Covenant when Moses returned from God and said; "Thus says the Lord!" Some of the people we lead have a more mature relationship with God than we do! On the Cross-Roads DTS at the King's Lodge this year Darlene's mum was one of the staff members!

Therefore we need to have a consultative style of leadership. They need to have a say when we make decisions. The distinctive features of Christian Leadership is facilitating the headship of Jesus in the team. Much leadership usurps Jesus' headship.

How Can We Have Consultative Leadership?

How can we do it? By prayer, worship, and encouragement. "What is the Lord saying to you?" That will avoid an authoritarian style of leadership. [Ian Peters says it's like playing table tennis with the team; all ways batting them back to Jesus.] Push them back to God. They all have a hotline to heaven but sometimes they've forgotten the number. When I was young I would ask Neville Winger to pray with me about my future. I really wanting him to prophesy over me! He would ask questions about what God had said to me. After several months of sweating with God I came back to Neville with the answer and he replied; "God told me that six months ago."

We believe in the priesthood of all believers but in the four hundred years since the Reformation most people have been still looking for a priest. What people want is not a pastor but a donkey to do the work for them.

People need to have an input in all the decisions that affect them. Are you a leader? Look behind you; if any one is following then you are one.


Once working with Teen Challenge Ken and I felt we should have a beach outreach over Christmas. Ken said; "But no one will come." We were the only ones working full-time for Teen Challenge. Everyone else was exhausted. The Lord gave Ken the wisdom. At the next team meeting they shared; "We feel that God is saying this but we need your input. Will you pray and ask the Lord if we should do it, and secondly, should you go." It was easy for them to get guidance for themselves to go. Most of the fifty went to Napier. They bought into it and owned it. We need to apply that sort of approach.

Apostolic Example

Let's see how the apostles did it in Acts 6:1-7. It was a crucial period in the early church; the Greek widows were being overlooked in the food distribution. It was a hot issue; cross-culture and food. On outreach the main conflict can be over food. This could have been a major split in the early church. How did they handle it? We have had some splits and are faced with potential splits constantly. What time should the lights be out? Should there be romantic relationships on the school? What will we do on outreach?

Discussion and Responses

Barry Divided us into groups of three and answer; "What principles of good leadership are exercised by the apostles?"

Here are some of the responses with comments from Barry.

  • it was a community meeting. All the people were called together.
  • the leaders recognised the problem and clarified it. We can sometimes pray without knowing what the problem is. Need to discuss the topic so we know clearly what the issues are.
  • they saw their own role. They new the primary functions of their own call and position. They didn't delegate their own job.
  • they were secure in their position. Peter could have said; "Here is a great opportunity to serve and model servant leadership." The Devil was trying to stop the preaching of the word. Acts 5 shows the pressure from the outside and now it is from within.
  • they defined the job and what needed to be done.
  • the leaders told the church how to carry the decision out. Good leadership gives guidelines and allows others to make their contribution. Give parameters for people to make decisions for themselves. Didn't tell them who to appoint but how to make the decision.
  • didn't tell them to go and deal with it but followed it through. There is a difference between delegation and abdication. [Call me pastor, pastor buck!] What if the apostles had not agreed with one of the choices? It is speculation. Perhaps there is some degree of vetting beforehand in order to mentor the person.

If you don't do what comes up in consultative leadership you need to explain why. Need to clarify the difference between an information gathering meeting and a decision making meeting.

What if People Disagree Afterwards?

What to do if people afterwards say; "I didn't agree?" Need to work hard at getting them involved beforehand. Always think; "There may be people who disagree." Make it as open as possible and as easy as possible to participate. Story of team smuggling Bibles into Romania several years ago. They prayed beforehand but were stopped and had the Bibles and van confiscated. It was a tough time. Debriefing afterwards all the team members said they had reservations when they had prayed, but hadn't shared it.!

What if there is some serious disagreement? It is usually because a serious factor is missing. One gets a yes and one gets a no from the Lord. One may be wrong but it may be that we aren't asking the right question of the Lord. He may want us to go to Albania but not this school. Need to ask God not only the what but also the when and how questions. Sometimes it can be personality or even their history. Our history determines how we reach agreement. If a person constantly disagrees treat them respectfully and affirm them. Ask them how they feel about the decision. Are they becoming or feeling isolated? It may be they are prophetic and feel isolated. Process it a bit more. He hates you because you remind him of his father.

Further Comments

Need to make time for major decisions. Take three meetings to chew it over before deciding.

  • something happens before verses one and two. Twelve strong-minded leaders who were in agreement! Wo! They must have been up all night. There must have been some process; no one was on the side disagreeing and griping. Think through the possible questions that will be asked. Anticipate the questions and come up with answers.
  • the issue and solution was cross-cultural. Someone acceptable to both sides was appointed.
  • the decision stopped the work of the enemy.
  • Acts was written by a Greek and he was happy with the resolution!
  • when people have a problem, involve them in its resolution. Give the parameters and guidelines.