For one hour on a Wednesday evening, I close my laptop, switch off my phone and forget my to-do list. I have joined an inter-generational choir and I absolutely love it.  We raise our voices to sing much-loved songs of bygone days.  As the music swells, a small group of us are tasked with singing the harmony line, interweaving with the melody for a richer, fuller sound. It is beautiful.

My favourite word in the Irish language is le cheile – together.  There is such strength in unity.  And this is true of leadership as well.  Jesus modelled togetherness in leadership – a path of humility rather than hierarchy, the servant not the superhero.  Perhaps it is time for us to recapture this Christlike model of leadership.

In 1947, my grandfather wrote a little pamphlet entitled, “Try Teamwork.”  “No man is a repository of all the gifts needed to reach others for Christ,” he said.  “Fellowship of kindred spirits is essential to all of us; without it the lone ember may flicker and grow cold… Our Master Himself ‘went throughout every city and village preaching and the twelve were with Him and certain women.’ The team is God’s idea for effective service.”

Christian leadership is not about usurping power or demanding rights.  It is about fulfilling our calling and our gifting.  It is about each one of us serving in obedience to Christ as an essential part of His body.  When women and men lead together, they give us a fuller picture of the Imago Dei. We need each other.

It saddens me when debates rage about who is allowed (or not allowed) to lead.  In a team, each person can contribute their part and the whole is stronger for it.  In the New Testament, we see countless examples of men and women exercising their leadership gifts.  From Paul and Peter to Phoebe and Priscilla, the focus is on character and calling.  It is not an either or situation – we need both.  Leading Together is not about putting men down.  Nor is it about tokenism.  It is about harmony. It is about shalom.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 

“But what about…?” Searching the scriptures diligently and wrestling with the meaning of different and difficult passages is vitally important but too often we are majoring on the minors, instead of humbly seeking to serve together as the body of Christ.

My grandfather wisely suggested, “in matters of doctrine or of individual opinion, the ‘court of appeal’ is the Holy Scriptures; and in interpreting these, differences of opinion must be held lightly but love and fellowship held tightly.  In honour preferring one another, such differences will become a source of strength rather than weakness.”

We long for a day when men and women are fully released into using their gifts for God’s kingdom, serving as co-workers for Christ and leading together.