Pioneer Priests: Leadership Alone Isn’t Enough

Categories: Big Questions

Leadership is a “buzz word” these days,

especially within the Christian community. While I appreciate the emphasis on leadership, I have noticed a disturbing trend: “leadership” is often used in juxtaposition to “management,” as though one was superior to the other — a good versus evil delineation. Perhaps you’ve heard claims such as “managers do things right, while leaders do the right things.” While I certainly agree with aspects of the statement, and I appreciate the emphasis on right motive and action, the language is incendiary and fails to capture the necessity of both leadership and management within the context of any organization, whether that be a family, church, registered charity, or a for-profit entity.

I saw the necessity of administrative and management skills within all organizations on a road-trip this past summer when my family and I visited La Parisma Mission in Lompoc, California. The Franciscan mission was established in 1787 by Padre Presidente Fermin Francisco Lasuen. At its prime, the footprint of the mission covered 470 square miles and included roughly 24,000 cattle and sheep — no small operation! The Padres had to manage both the spiritual and physical needs of all the inhabitants, while maintaining financial sustainability. What caught my attention was a sign that read,

Pioneer Priests. Managing the Mission Requires Many Skills.

If you want to be a Franciscan Priest…you will not only be responsible for the spiritual welfare of the entire mission community, but your resume should also include experience in the following areas: business, import/export, law, politics, accounting, farming, architecture, engineering, construction….

I couldn’t help but think of the Apostle Paul, and the “practical” skills he employed as an artisan and entrepreneur, all while leading the local church.

During our visit, we came across another sign, this one explaining that the mission sought always to have a minimum of two padres on staff at all times: one to lead the spiritual well-being of the community, and another to manage the necessary business activities required to sustain the mission and provide for the community.

I couldn’t help but think leadership and management always go hand-in-hand.

They are not opposed to one another, but rather are unified in their diversity. To use a cliché, they are two sides of the same coin — connected by a grander purpose.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to include Paul’s exhortation to the people of Corinth when mentioning various spiritual gifts, among them the gift of administration (some might call that management).The word κυβέρνησις — kybernēsis — is found in I Corinthians 12:28 and communicates the notion of “guiding.” The image that always comes to my mind as I talk with students, pastors, parents, business owners is one of a white-water guide, steering and leading his or her crew of sometimes terrified team-members through the rapids, steering clear of oncoming dangers: both leading and guiding (administration and management) the team to safety. This skill set requires training and equipping, practice and refinement. Management is a necessary part of leadership, and likewise must be studied and applied,learned, and refined.

To the sceptics who sometimes push back against management, I often ask the question, “Do you want to guide your organization, family, or church well?” When they respond, “yes”, I then ask, “Are you prepared and equipped to both lead and manage?”

My goal at Columbia is to develop holistically equipped leaders who have the character and requisite skills needed, as they have been for centuries, to guide their organizations well for God’s glory. This goal was why we began a conversation four years ago to develop a Diploma in Social Entrepreneurship, and why I’m very excited that we launched the program this fall! In combination with the new Diploma in Applied Leadership, Columbia will offer students a dynamic degree which encompasses the many facets required to truly guide ministries into the future.

I guess you could sum up the intention of these efforts with the following words: we’re developing modern-day Pioneer Priests. ■

Kurtis Kube (MBA) serves as the Director of Development, as well as the Social Entrepreneurship Program Director here at Columbia. He would love to receive feedback and can be contacted at

[This article first appeared in the 2017-18 edition of the Columbia Contact magazine. Read more articles and updates.]