Anyone who has ever been part of a business, religious organization, civic club, or sports team has experienced the difference in leadership and authority. Many of us have been part of organizations where leadership succeeded in spite of those in authority.

I think this is the wisdom that we see when faith communities are working properly. We call it “servant leadership” but there is no other kind of true leadership. Regardless of one’s official position, it is not possible to lead from above — only with. It may be possible to get people to do what you want using only authority, but it will not last — eventually the system will break. What is tragic is a system that is broken by misuse of authority and those with authority not reacting to the problem. Whether it is through willful ignorance or naïve inattention, the results can be catastrophic.

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