My experience has taught me that there are three types of leaders. There are leaders who are way out front and pull those they lead along behind them, sometimes dragging them where they do not want to go. There are leaders who lead from behind, pushing those they lead and often giving them a swift kick if they do not comply. Then there are the “Emmaus leaders” who, like Jesus did with his disciples, walk along side those they lead helping them come to a moment of clarity and illumination. An Emmaus leader listens, loves, and leads.
An Emmaus leader listens. In a world where everyone is quick to provide an easy answer, an Emmaus leader walks along the road and listens to the struggles and difficulties of those they lead. They listen not only with their ears, but with their heart. Emmaus leaders point to the truth patiently, never by forcing their position, but with gentle words and a humble spirit.
An Emmaus leader loves. They have genuine compassion and care for those they lead. Their support comes without judgment, their care without strings. Patiently the Emmaus leader guides and directs those they lead and with great care helps them come to great revelation.
An Emmaus leader leads. While there is value in listening and loving, to be a leader, one must lead. An Emmaus leader takes the mantle of leadership seriously. Like the story in Luke 24, the Emmaus leader waits to be invited in, waits for permission to exercise leadership. Once they are invited in, they bring clarity and direction to a difficult situation.
Today I lost one of the best “Emmaus leaders” I have ever encountered. Mack McMillan was my district superintendent, my mentor, and my friend. From our first encounter eighteen months ago he always treated me like a valued peer and able leader. He challenged me to be my best, to lead with integrity and authenticity, and to serve faithfully. Mack was one of the few in leadership that seemed to realize that my challenging the institutional process was not a disrespect of the institution, but a desire for the institution to be the Church that God wanted it to be. He gave credence to my ideas for alternative ministry that others would have seen as folly. He truly listened, loved, and led from his heart. He followed Christ’s example and was an Emmaus leader.
May God surround his family with love and peace.