The phrase, “Mind the Gap, will be familiar to anyone who has been in London. As people enter and exit the Tube (subway) they are told to mind the gap. However, the British accent makes it difficult to grasp what is being said as well as a colloquialism that is unfamiliar to Americans. After a few Tube rides, my wife and I finally figured it out. The phrase describes the four inch space between the concrete platform and the Tube car. Americans would say, “Watch your step,” while the British say, “Mind the gap.” We had a good laugh and enjoyed giving our best attempts at British accents saying the phrase each time stepping on or off the tube.
Recently the phrase took on a new meaning for me. I was reading the book, Look Before You Lead, by Aubrey Malphurs. The author does an excellent job in describing how the values of leaders may lead to assumptions that are inconsistent with their behaviors such as: Leaders expect his or her churches to be evangelistic. The assumptions would lead one to think that leaders with these expectations would also be sharing his or her faith with unbelievers. The following list gives side by side comparisons of expectations/values to its corresponding assumptions (see Table 1.0).
Leaders values / expectations of church Assumptions of leaders behavior
|The church has been given authority by God.||Leaders willingly submit to the authority of the church.|
|The church is responsible to be spiritually mature by discipling its members.||Leaders spend time discipling people.|
|The church is responsible to be an expression of God’s love in the community.||Leaders extend love to others in words and deeds.|
|The church is responsible to meet the needs of the poor.||Leaders give money and serve the poor.|
|The church is responsible to plant new churches.||Leaders are willing to become church planters.|
Gaps form whenever leader’s values/expectations of churches are inconsistent with their personal behaviors or attitudes. Here is where one must “Mind the gap.” Typically gaps exist when cultural and biblical values clash with each other. Every leader in the church was at one time greatly influenced by their culture. Leaders must be mindful of the gaps that exist between their belief in biblical values and his or her personal behaviors or attitudes.
I believe that cultural bias toward Christianity is responsible for creating gaps between a leader’s core beliefs and their personal behaviors or attitudes (see Table 1.1).
Cultural views Biblical truth
|Leaders are corrupt||Church is holy|
|All faith systems are the same.||Jesus is the way, truth, and life.|
|The family unit is broken.||Family is the place to experience God’s love, mercy and justice.|
|Science will guide you into truth.||Grace and faith will lead you to truth.|
|You are an individual.||You are called into community.|
The following illustration identifies possible gaps between leader’s core values and personal behaviors or attitudes (see Table 1.2).
Cultural view Gap Biblical truth
|Leaders are corrupt||I will trust my leaders as long as I feel they have my best interest in mind.||Church is holy|
|All faith systems are the same.||I will be viewed as a bigot if I present Jesus as the only way to God.||Jesus is the way, truth, and life.|
|The family unit is broken.||Marriage is not the highest value of relationships. Cohabiting is no different from marriage.||Family is the place to experience God’s love, mercy and justice.|
|Science will guide you into truth.||Science and faith are incompatible.||God is the author of all truth, knowledge and wisdom.|
|You are an individual.||I will connect to others who think like me.||You are called into community that includes everyone who believes in Jesus as Lord.|
Churches that understand these cultural values/bias will be able to prepare future leaders to overcome these gaps. Gaps will eventually lead to failed leadership. Leaders must be prepared to address the tension between being influenced by their culture and being transformed by the Scriptures. In future blogs I will focus on the gaps that exist between cultural and Christian values of marriage and parenting.