What God Does When Men Lead
An Interview with Bill Peel
By DeWayne Hamby
New Man talked with popular author Bill Peel about his new book, What God Does When Men Lead. Peel spoke about the biblical concept of leadership and why more Christian men need to step up and be the leaders God has called them to be.
New Man: What was the purpose for this book?
Bill Peel: We are in a leadership crisis today. I think there’s a tendency for Christians to retreat. Evangelicals tend to say, “Hey this is a fallen world, let’s hunker down and wait till Jesus comes.” That’s not an option for a person seriously following Christ. The problem isn’t a lack of leaders. It’s that the concept of leadership has been hijacked in the 20th century. We’ve encouraged the perception that leaders are always high profile, hard-driving people. We’ve bought into this notion that leadership is a rare commodity that only a few people have. We look to these people to solve our problems. We’ve elevated leaders to a rock star status. When we do this we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re disappointed. The result of this type of thinking is that men shirk their God-given responsibilities to lead and be good stewards of those that God’s given them to lead.
The challenge is to smoke men out and encourage them to take responsibility to be the leaders. But first we have to redefine leadership. We must go through every area of their lives and explain what it looks like. I take a shot at redefining leadership. The whole first section of my book is about understanding a more biblical view of leadership. Some people say the more people following you, the better leader you are. Biblical leadership is just very simply taking responsibility for what God has entrusted to your care, whether they’re in your home or workplace or church.
I write about leadership as stewardship. Stewardship is this old-fashioned word we think of in terms of raising money. A steward is someone who held something in trust for someone else. In 1 Timothy 3 Paul talks about church leaders. They have to be people that lead their household well. That passage really describes the scope of leadership that men have. The NIV translates that passage “manage your family well.” When people think of family today, they think of the nuclear family, but in the Greco-Roman world the household was the basic economic unit of the community. When Paul talks about leading your household it extends to people in the community that you serve and impact.
New Man: Why aren’t more men leading?
Peel: First, because they have a flawed view of leadership. They believe that leadership is only what happens at the top. But leadership is about getting people to work. Leadership first is about doing work and taking responsibility to the people who’ve been assigned to you.
There’s a huge cultural pressure to push men out of leadership at a lot of different levels, too, to make room for women. God has certainly created women leaders that we are to respect and honor. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to step up and lead. Even though it’s dangerous, when we know it’s going to be resisted, we still have a responsibility to lead whether or not anyone follows.
New Man: What are some obstacles that get leaders off track?
Peel: The first responsibility that a leader has is to lead himself. That means a number of things. As a Christian, I’ve got to learn to be a follower of Jesus Christ above all things. I do what He says, which also means I need to know what He says. I have to turn the TV off and plow into God’s Word. It also means I lead like Him. When other people are following me, I’ve got to make sure I am developing them in their leadership capacity as well. That’s a huge responsibility of a leader who’s given responsibility of people. We lead like Jesus, being a servant and seeking the welfare of other people. Jesus didn’t come to be served but to serve. As a leader my job is to help other people flourish.
Seventy-five percent of the Bible’s heroes are leaders who made their living in a secular job. A big part of my book helps men redefine their work, which is a central concern for a man. I spend most of my time helping men redefine work and helping them understand that what they do Monday through Friday is significant to God. When men lead God blesses them. Men need men to lead their families, but being a leader also means doing our work with excellence.
New Man: Can you talk about how this concept of leadership has played out in your own family life?
Peel: This whole idea–making sure others in your household flourish–has been a critical part of my journey into manhood. I have three grown sons and a very talented wife. Early on, I figured that one of my key responsibilities was to help them find God’s callings for their lives. There are some men’s books that make it sound like that only the man has the calling and the wife has to put her dreams and desires away and be subservient. That’s dangerous for a man because he is forsaking one of his key callings. We’re big fans of George McDonald and he made this statement: “The chief responsibility of a husband and wife is to help each other find the will of God.” If you help your wife find God’s calling for her life you will have led her in the right way.
This article “What God Does When Men Lead” by Bill Peel is excerpted from REV magazine. August 2006.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”