Every Leader needs a Mentor – Philips Dayanidhi
This podcast is a repost, originally published on April 8, 2017
Today, Pastor Priji has a conversation with Philips Dayanidhi about the vitality of dependence on God along with servant-hood in leadership, and the importance of accountability to God and a mentor.
Pastor Priji Varghese: What do you mean by spiritual formation?
Philips Dayanidhi: It is coming to the core of spirituality. It is to get down to nothingness to experience the completeness of God.
Pastor Priji Varghese: Many times, Christian leaders are focused on the leadership in the church and do not pay much attention to leaders in the secular world and vice versa. What are the Biblical principles for leadership and can the same be applied in the secular world? Do they have different principles?
Philips Dayanidhi: I do not think there are different principles. In the Bible many of the leaders were secular leaders too. Nehemiah one of the model leaders held a position in the kingdom serving the king, Daniel was a prime minister, Joseph was head of a prison. On the contrary the principles we see in the Bible we see in the management books.
If you are a leader, firstly you need to lead yourself. When you learn to do so, there is a certain amount of integrity and character that comes in. I can’t wear a leopards skin and wear a sheep skin at church. I need to be the same.
It is more of the leader’s person-hood that matters than the principles he/she has. God is concerned more about the person more than his ability to lead, even though those things matter. Unfortunately many in church focus on results, growth, ministry expansion rather than to focus on the personal spiritual discipline. Ministry should not supersede who I am in God.
Pastor Priji Varghese: What is that one thing that can stop us from being real and true to ourselves?
Philips Dayanidhi: One of the many is our activity orientation that makes us too busy to keep our fundamental commandment of resting in Him. Leadership in Christianity has become so activity oriented, we forget we have to get our Sabbath rest.
Secondly, the concept of worldly success has crept into the church. What will God measure us by? Jesus says many will come to Him and list what they have done for Him but He replies they’ve forgot His will – to be Christ-like. If we forget our fundamentals we forget why we are. We place our self esteem on our “success”. While many will boast of their ministry, can you still hold your esteem and rest knowing you’re in the centre of God’s will?
Leadership is about the people and not the leader. The Bible calls the leader a minister or a servant. Jesus said He came to serve and not be to be served. Leadership is not about a position, title, doing, but about servant-hood, fulfilling God’s purposes.
Pastor Priji Varghese: Can you draw a comparison between the church leaders today, and Jesus and his disciples to show what are the differences between them?
Philips Dayanidhi: Servant-hood. The curse of leaders is stardom. It gets the leader so high up that the church would rather listen to the leaders than God. People rely on leaders to take important decisions in life. If you’ve not heard from God, I can only pray with you for God to reveal His will.
Secondly, a lack of accountability. Jesus sent them two by two not only for fellowship, but also for them to encourage, to be accountable to one another, and mentor each other. This is totally missing. Now they do mentor others, but do not seek to be mentored by others or by God.
Five years into a “successful” ministry, we think we know it all and can do it all and become self sufficient. We think we can preach, council, etc without the help of the Holy Spirit. One of my friends asked me if my ministry will continue the same if the Holy Spirit left. It shocked me because I realised it will, as I do so much out of my competency and gifting than out of the dependence on the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have to question myself every day.
Pastor Priji Varghese: What are some of the challenges young leaders might face? What precautions must they undertake?
Philips Dayanidhi: There are about four hundred leaders mentioned in the Bible, but unfortunately only about a hundred of them were successful or finished well. The probability of you failing is very high. Understand that you can fail. None are infallible, even the ones most unlikely to fall. We need to be very cautious.
Someone told me that a tree never falls suddenly. There is a termite eating it up unaware to those outside. When it falls they are astonished that the huge tree fell, but only if they saw the core would they realise that the termites have been working on it for years. As Christian leaders, we need to watch for the termites.
Pastor Priji Varghese: And it mostly comes disguised as small things, not just apparently large.
Philips Dayanidhi: Yes, they come as very small things like praises of people and appreciation that leads to you preaching for more appreciation instead for the sake of God.
Pride is so subtle that many can become proud of being humble. You have got to watch for that. Question yourself regularly.
Two authors researched on why Christian leaders fall when at the pinnacle. It goes back to their dark side that develops from their childhood- rejection from a father, a nasty comment by a teacher, failure, rejection from a girl. You need to take help and be accountable to someone with whom you can share everything including your dark side. When you look at the life of Paul, he had a mentor in Barnabas. Paul is then a mentor to Timothy. We are content with having Timothys in our life and not Barnabases.
Do not idolise leaders putting them on God’s place. Do not seek to do everything they do because you are not called to be them. Don’t become what you are not.
There are two types of trees. The Banyan tree grows roots in one place and expands itself and the Bamboo tree that allows many shoots to grow beside it and they multiply. We are called to be like Bamboo trees.
Ask yourself am I serving or am I leading?
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