5 Leadership Lessons from the Doctrine of the Trinity
by Jamie Munson
But what does authority look like in a world full of imperfect people? It is an important question, especially when organizing leadership.
Leaders cannot lead as the Trinity in some respects (being God, existing in eternity, glorifying themselves, etc.), but there are leadership lessons to be gleaned from Trinitarian doctrine that shows us how to graciously mirror God’s authority, humility, love, and generosity for his glory and not our own.
Trinitarian doctrine ought to inform Christian leadership, and it is marked by five characteristics.
1. HOW THE TRINITY MODELS HUMILITY
The members of the Trinity are continually serving in humility and seeking to honor each other.
We humans tend to think we are simply awesome, so we seek out ways to point the spotlight on ourselves. Often, the allure of leadership positions is more about our drive for recognition, power, and money rather than our willingness to serve and help people. Christian leadership should be the opposite of self-exaltation.
Scripture compels us to “clothe [our]selves with humility” (1 Pet. 5:5). This suggests an ongoing, daily effort like any biblical command that requires the help of the Holy Spirit. When leaders pursue humility, they invite the grace and favor of God and create a culture that celebrates the victories of others. They demonstrate repentance, which encourages an atmosphere of good consciencesand open communication.
2. HOW THE TRINITY MODELS LOVING GENEROSITY
There are very few commands in Scripture that encourage competition among believers. Yet Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
We are not called to exchange pleasantries in the staff lounge, but rather strive with competitive zeal in expressing genuine love and encouragement to others. The loving relationships and the desire to share glory within the Trinity provides an amazing example for us to follow.
How leaders love and care for each other sets the tone for an entire organization. As the leaders go, so the organization will follow. The same principle extends to generosity, which is a specific expression of love. A theology and lifestyle of generosity is conspicuously absent in most organizations, which means they miss out on giving and receiving God’s grace with each other. We need to actively share God’s grace as a conduit of blessing to those around us.
3. HOW THE TRINITY MODELS GIVING GLORY
Will we give God glory or take it for ourselves? Leader worship is all too common in our culture, and oftentimes leaders promote such idolatry by not properly directing people to give the glory to God.
It’s easy to want to steal the glory that so clearly does not belong to us. The Christian life must be squarely fixated on the glory of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, so that all of life serves as an act of worship to our deserving, holy God (1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 4:6). When our focus is on the glory of someone other than ourselves, a world full of people focused on themselves will begin to take notice.
4. HOW THE TRINITY MODELS ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF LEADERSHIP AUTHORITY
The need for organizations to have a senior leader begins with God. God is one and he eternally exists in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Within the unity of the Godhead there is an order of work (this is referred to asfunctional subordination) to his plans. In other words, each Person has a different role and responsibility (John 6:44; Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Pet. 1:2). Organizations would do well to reflect a level of order as well.
This goes against our culture’s distorted view of equality. Take Jesus’ disciples for example: they were led by Peter, a first-among-equals who represented the rest of the men and served as the most visible member of the early church (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19;Luke 22:32; Acts 1:13). The difference between Peter and the other disciples—or your leader and the people under his or her authority—is not a difference in individual value and worth. The difference comes from the diversity of talents and gifts to be found within the body of Christ.
Biblical leadership compels leaders to appropriately exercise their authority over the organization. An established authority structure will help your organization’s ability to function at its highest level.
5. HOW THE TRINITY MODELS SUBMISSION
As a leader, the thought of submitting to others can be challenging. Again, we want to take charge, we want to call the shots, and we want to make the final decisions. This is absolutely necessary at times, but a leader who goes unchecked and submits to no one is dangerous. Every single leader has blind spots and needs others to speak into their lives and point out the errors and omissions in their life or organization. Even leaders within organizations who really have no obligation to submit are wise to invite the counsel of others who are farther along a similar leadership journey.
How does this play out in your organization? How can you grow as a leader that reflects the Trinity?
This article is adapted from Jamie’s book, Authority: The Leader’s Call to Serve. Jamie served on staff at Mars Hill Church for over twelve years, is the author of the free e-book Money: God or Gift. Learn more atJamieMunson.com.