Mission Leadership

Styles of Leadership in Missions

Fatherly Leadership: Advice or guidance in difficult situations, helping, comforting, encouraging, motivating

Trainer: Providing material, seminars etc. to enhance ministry of missionaries and increase effectiveness (setting goals or priorities, time management, church growth principles, methods of evangelism etc.)

Corrective Leadership: Divergence from theological position of mission organization, interpersonal relationships, attitude problems, improper behavior etc. (reactionary leadership).

Situation related Leadership: Transitional situations such as getting new workers settled and into language training or change of ministry assignments, dealing with difficulties or opportunities, major decisions and policy making

Formalities, Routine responsibilities: Reports, communication between field and home office, planning meetings etc.

Types of Team Structures

Most of these structures have legitimacy in certain situations.

1. The Spider Web: The leader knows and controls all. If the leader has a strong and charismatic personality, the team’s goals may be attained, but when the leader is gone, what then? This model can be useful for short term goals which must be accomplished very urgently and there isn’t time to discuss the issues. Example: Rescuing an ice skater, who just fell through the ice.

2. The Temple: Many strong pillars; “It’s all in the policy manual!”; heavy on organization and tradition with little flexibility (“We’ve always done it that way!”). This may work where the team’s goals require much experience, and where both goals and methods of attaining them is unchallenged. Example: Operating team in hospital.

3. The Funnel: This is a task oriented team, which is intensive, flexible and usually short term. Example: Charity drive to collect food and clothing for flood victims.

4. The Constellation: The team members are like stars in a constellation. From the distance, they appear to be a team, yet they may be light years apart. They are all doing their job independently and perhaps efficiently according to their role expectations, thus accomplishing the common goal. This team is a product of the task or goal rather than a group of people involved in determining these. Example: City police force.

5. The Rake: The leader resembles the handle and other members of the team are the prongs. The form is very rigid and there is no questioning the leader’s authority. This model can take on two forms:
• the “prongs up” rake with a covert type leader in the background controlling (Example: a naggy wife)
• the “prongs down” rake which has an overt leader ruling over the team (Example: an orchestra and its conductor).

6. The Puppet or Marionette Theatre: These are similar to the “prongs up rake”, but a “softer” version. The players are simply extensions of the leader, who remains behind the scenes, but can be counted on to appear for the applause. Example: Teacher who directs the school play or a authoritarian pastor.

7. The Double Wedge: This is the ideal model for a team of spiritually mature Christians.

The ideal Leader in a mission team is one who...
• ...is enthusiastically and selflessly engaged in attaining the team goals and purposes;
• ...who encourages team members to follow his example and adopt this same attitude;
• ...who can show and help team members how to fulfill their respective roles in the team;
• ...who gives credit and shows appreciation when and where due;
• ...who aims for his own replacement (perhaps even becoming a role-model member of the team under his follower’s leadership).

The true measure of a leader is not what he accomplishes through the team, but what team members accomplish when he is gone. We all know why Christ came to earth: He came to die for our salvation. But what did he do while he was waiting those thirty years? He trained disciples to become his apostles.

Ralph V. Harvey