LOGOS: A LEADER HAS A MESSAGE
It is known as the charge of the Light Brigade, one of the most famous defeats in the annals of British military history. The year was 1854, and the British were at war with the Russians in the Crimea. The specific events that transpired that fateful day on October 25 are shrouded in mystery. What is certain was that the Russians captured some artillery guns that were in a strategic location. In an attempt to stop the Russians from gaining an advantage, Lord Reglan sent an order to Lord Cardigan to prevent the Russians from carrying away the guns. But the order was not specific enough. There was confusion as to precisely what needs to be done. What happened next was even murkier. The order was sent through Captain Nolan who may have pressured Lord Cardigan to do something drastic. The latter ordered his light cavalry to engage with the Russians, even though it was ill-equipped to do so. When the smoke of battle cleared, 270 out of 670 soldiers in the brigade were either dead or wounded. Almost all of the 400 horses perished.
Just like in battle, an uncertain message from the leader can create confusion among the people. An effective leader must have a clear message. No one will follow someone without knowing what he stands for.
We can see this in the most successful leaders, both past and present. Former US president Dwight Eisenhower talked about the New Deal, which galvanized a nation under severe economic depression to pull together. More recently, former US president Barack Obama spoke about change. In the religious world, Pastor Mark Dever has highlighted the “9 marks” of a healthy church. While Pastor John Piper will always be associate with “desiring God”.
People are looking for leaders who have a life-defining message. Without a compelling message, an aspiring leader will have difficulty attracting followers. The power of a message can be seen in the way cultic leaders have led their followers astray. Once their adherents believed their message, it is shocking how far they would go to obey their leaders. This blind adherence was brought to the fore during the 1960s in a group called Lapiang Malaya. Believing in the power of their amulets, hundreds of followers attacked Malacañang on May 21, 1967, intending to overthrow the government. The result was a massacre. The police killed 33 and wounded 47 members of the cult. In the aftermath, researchers who interviewed surviving members found out that what held the group together were their religious beliefs. Their charismatic leader, Tatang Valentin, taught his followers a strange blend of political freedom, the second coming of Christ, and belief in amulets. By believing a false message, scores of people paid for their lives.
The Christian leader has the most inspiring message in all the world. After all, it is called the Good News! It is a message of hope for all the lost sinners of this world. We are people of the Bible, and our message has been handed down to us through generations and millennia of God’s people. We are not the originators of our message. God has revealed it to us. Our task is not to find a new message but to faithfully herald the message of the Scriptures.
The Greek word “logos” represents this attribute of a leader. Logos means “word” in Greek. Scholars of public speaking and especially of homiletics or preaching, have long ago identified that the quality of the content (logos) is a pre-requisite to a good sermon. In this book, I contend that an effective Christian leader should communicate a clear logos, or else people will not follow him.
Another way to look at a leader’s logos is that it is his burden. In the Old Testament, prophets have a “burden”. This burden refers to the solemn message they want the people to know. A leader cannot help but to share his logos to others and so it is his burden. The logos is what keeps the leader excited. He is convicted that his logos is what will change the world, or at least his corner of the world.
This was the case with the prophet Jeremiah. Yahweh has revealed to him the coming destruction of His people. His task was to herald the bad news, and he knew that persecution awaits him. Even so, he testified that “If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9). A leader cannot rest until she has shared her message with others.
I do not mean that a leader has only one repetitious message. Our overarching message is the gospel, and the whole Bible is our reference book. Within the ambit of this logos, numerous details must be communicated to people.
The logos is more than just a slogan or one message. It refers to the totality of our vision and message. It can be manifested in a vision or goal statement. But it is also the totality of the many messages we convey to the organization. For the pastor, the logos is the whole Bible and the gospel, but it could be sharpened to highlight particular ministry focus. As mentioned above, John Piper will forever be associated with “desiring God” and Mark Dever with “9 Marks”. Going further back, we remember John Bunyan through Pilgrim’s Progress and Jonathan Edwards by his “religious affections”.
Again, this is not to say such leaders did not declare the “whole counsel of God”. My point is that they have a relevant and compelling message which rallied people around them. Furthermore, I am not saying that these leaders are one dimensional. If you listen to the sermons and read books of the Christian leaders mentioned above, you will be struck by the breadth of their ideas and message. But all of them focused on some area of the gospel that needs to be underscored in the context of their ministry. None of them likely did set out to change the world when they were starting. Being faithful to their local congregation, God used the sum of their logos to transform whole sections of Christianity.
The leader’s logos is not always popular. In real life, the most relevant messages could be unpopular and even painful. A few weeks ago, we received a call from my father just as we turned off the lights to sleep. He was calling to inform us that my mother just breathed her last. It is not a message we would want to hear, but we would feel offended if we were not informed immediately of such an important message.
For the Christian, he must be faithful to the message that God wants him to deliver. Blessedly, our message is, at its core, one of hope and redemption. However, specific aspects of the Biblical message may be offensive to some. In the office, a leader is at times called upon to deliver bad news to his team. In such cases, we should leave the results of our logos to God, even when the hearers seem to be rejecting our message. The most faithful leaders of God experienced rejection, notably the prophets in the Old Testament and early church evangelists like Paul.
In the following pages, I will discuss critical areas that will help sharpen your logos as a leader.
 Albada-Lim et al., p154