I have long argued that much of good leadership revolves around good provision. It is at the heart of a desire for social change, is rooted in my own motivation of socialised power (power to change the things I can) and is in many ways the essence of servant leadership – because that provision should lead to a devolution of leadership, of affirmation of the leadership of others, simply because those leading have given or been given, the time, resources and space to complete tasks. Good provision indicates great forethought and planning but the leader stands back from the provision so that others can benefit from it.
In Early Years, teaching often revolves around this – I have been in a lesson where the nursery teacher did nothing except provide imaginative activities and resources for children, then watched and recorded as they got on with it. There was nothing else for the teacher to do except carefully prompt and intervene where needed to maximise learning through the prepared resources.
In Romans 12:8, Paul writes:
- He who governs, let him do it diligently (NIV)
- He who gives aid, with zeal (RSV)
- If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously (NLT)
- He who leads, with diligence (NASB)
- He who is in authority should be energetic and alert (Weymouth)
- Let the man who wields authority, think of his responsibility (JB Phillips)
- He that rules, with diligence (KJV)
The alternate translation in the NIV that I keep with me says: If it is to provide for others, let him do it dlilgently.
The word is proistemi – to stand before, to lead, to attend to, to maintain (Titus 3:8, 14) and thus also to profess honest occupation (RV). This word has been given quite a wide brief, but perhaps Greek is the sort of language that helps us see into one word through the variety of its translations. It is definitely about leadership, but within that is the issue of maintenance, of support and help, of provision, perhaps of encouragement. One imagines that different translators have used different words according to a prevailing view of leadership – hence rule is a word that appears in the 17th century, as opposed to giving aid, providing and governing in the late 20th century.
For us as leaders in church schools, we have to take seriously (Diligently! Responsibly! Zealously!) the issue of provision and service as well as leadership as authority.
Just a thought.