It is noteworthy that some of the greatest leaders in the Scriptures are those who seem hidden behind the scenes. Consider Jethro, for instance, whose wise counsel to Moses was that Moses identify able-bodied men empowered to join Moses in speaking into the lives of the Hebrew people. Or, give thought to a little known man named Gad, who, when King David had erred with regard to a census, instructed the king with options for dealing with the ensuing ramifications of the king’s choices (cp. 2 Samuel 24).
In our day and age we have come to believe that real leadership is in your face and somehow ever-present. If a leader is not on the platform then he or she must not be leading. But what if the leader were behind the scenes, orchestrating a culture of empowerment in which others are in the spotlight, succeeding for the glory of God? If that leader were generally unseen, does that mean there is a failure of leadership? What if that particular leader were more interested in placing his or her fingerprints upon others, and it is in that fashion that the leader’s influence and success is measured?
In the world of the organized church this is a really big issue. If a given pastor is not always seen, or if an elder is not generally known, it is perceived that there must be some failure in, well, leadership. So, with that in mind (and seeking to be intellectually honest), does that mean that Jethro and Gad and a host of other “behind-the-scenes-people-of-influence” were failures? Of course not! Indeed, it was their respective leadership that made Israel greater. It is only in the “it’s all about me and my sense of security and comfort” culture reflected in our churches or other organizations that we somehow have conned ourselves into believing that presence and power equates to successful leadership. Behind the scenes fingerprint sort of leadership is perceived as weak, somehow short of a standard.
It’s just that whatever standard is used tends to fall way short of intellectual honesty and the timeless model of God’s Word.
If by chance you’re one who expects that real leaders must be so overt, then reflect on what is being said. And the moment you wish to challenge the notion that a leader’s fingerprints are much less important than his or her footprints, please pause and introduce yourself again to a godly sage like Jethro, or a prophet like Gad, or a host of others whose behind the scenes influences are transforming God’s Kingdom.