Robert Quinn, a leadership professor at the University of Michigan, has joined others in pointing out that the origin of the word “leader” means to “go forth and die.” In his book Change the World, he writes:
Leadership authors do not understand that leadership means “Go forth to die.” If they did understand it, they would not be enticed to write about it – because people do not want to hear this message. Most people want to be told how to get extraordinary results with minimum risk. They want to know how to get out-of-the-box results with in-the-box courage.
True leaders are servants who die to themselves so others may flourish. True leaders go forth not for themselves but for others.
If the foundation of leadership is “go forth and die,” no one should outpace the Church in developing and deploying leaders. Here are two reasons that the Church should develop leaders who “go forth and die.”
We have the ultimate example.
Our Savior-King came to serve us by dying in our place. He went forth and endured the shame and pain of the cross for us. We are His because He served us, and He has given us the ultimate example. We are now to go forth and serve others. After He washed His disciples’ feet, He said:
So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you. (John 13:14-15)
The Christian life is about dying.
The Christian life is not about trying daily but dying daily. When Jesus invited the crowd to follow Him, He invited them to die. When He told them His followers would be taking up their cross daily, they knew He meant a life of dying as the cross was an explicit statement of death.
If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)
His life is revealed in us, with increasing measure, as we die to ourselves. We grow by continually “going forth to die.” The apostle Paul wrote:
For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:11)
Christians, more than anyone else, should resonate with what it means to “go forth and die.” The Church, more than anything else, is designed by God to create this type of leader.