Christian leadership in a Malawian context : a practical theological evaluation of African Bible College

Stauffacher, Robert W. (2013-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Notwithstanding that many prominent, influential and highly effective Christian leaders over this past century are making a difference throughout Africa, a serious leadership crisis still looms. There is no doubt that Christianity has spread throughout Africa, reaching many remote areas within the continent. Still the depth to that Christianity remains elusive. Practical theologians have discovered various patterns of leadership abuse, immorality, and heresy throughout Africa. As alarming as these patterns may be, in a positive way they are encouraging many Africans to seek alternative models of leadership. Thus, Africa has now become a place ready to implement effective or authentic leadership models. The purpose of this dissertation is to determine, in a practical theological way, whether African Bible College in Malawi is producing graduates that can be described as authentic Christian leaders. As a way of determining this, the researcher will be 1) investigating the growing (Christian) leadership crisis within sub-Saharan Africa, 2) analyzing various Christian leadership models within the field, 3) conducting empirical research on the African Bible College (ABC) and ABC graduates, 4) exploring normative perceptions of Christian leadership and 5) developing a revised praxis for ABC to help it become an even more effective institution for producing authentic Christian leaders. Authentic leadership in particular emphasizes the “genuineness,” “realness,” and “transparency” of people in leadership positions. It requires a leader to be open, honest, and accountable to others. They must earn the respect and trust of their followers. People today are becoming more skeptical of their leaders. They have grown weary and impatient with typical overbearing, power-hungry, and dishonest leadership personalities. They want to see their leaders actually practicing what they are preaching, living lives of integrity, and truly living out their Christian faith in a God honoring and practical manner. This is why authentic leadership theory has become prominent and widely accepted within the past decade. The theory will be useful for analyzing the leadership of ABC graduates.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Nieteenstaande die feit dat baie prominente, gesaghebbende en hoogs effektiewe Christenleiers (gedurende die afgelope eeu) ʼn ware verskil deur die hele Afrika gemaak het (en dit steeds doen), dreig ʼn baie wesenlike en ernstige leierskapkrisis steeds. Daar is geen twyfel nie dat Christenskap soos ’n veldbrand deur die hele Afrika versprei het, en baie afgeleë gebiede op die kontinent bereik het, maar die diepte van daardie Christenskap bly steeds bedrieglik. Praktiese teoloë het verskeie voorbeelde van misbruik van leierskap, immoraliteit en dwaalleer oral in Afrika aangetref. En, so ontstellend soos hierdie voorbeelde ook al is, op ʼn positiewe wyse motiveer en bemoedig hulle baie Afrikane om alternatiewe modelle van leierskap na te jaag. Afrika is dus op die oomblik ʼn baie geskikte plek vir die implementering van effektiewe (of outentieke) leierskapsmodelle. Die doel van hierdie verhandeling is dus om op ʼn prakties-teologiese wyse te bepaal, of die African Bible College (ABC) in Malawi gegradueerdes lewer, wat as outentieke Christenleiers beskryf kan word. In ʼn poging om dit te bepaal, het die navorser 1) die toenemende (Christen-) leierskapskrisis in Afrika suid van die Sahara ondersoek, 2) verskeie Christenleierskap-modelle op die gebied ondersoek, 3) empiriese navorsing oor die ABC en ABC-gegradueerdes gedoen, 4) normatiewe persepsies van Christenleierskap verken en 5) ʼn hersiene praktyk vir ABC ontwikkel wat daartoe sal bydra dat hulle ʼn selfs meer effektiewe instelling vir die lewering van outentieke Christenleiers kan word. Outentieke leierskap beklemtoon in die besonder die “opregtheid”, “egtheid” en “deursigtigheid” van mense in leierskapsposisies. Dit vereis van ʼn leier om oop, eerlik en aanspreeklik teenoor ander te wees. Dit bring mee dat ʼn leier die respek en vertroue van sy of haar volgelinge moet verdien. Mense raak deesdae al hoe meer skepties oor hulle leiers. Hulle het moeg en ongeduldig geraak vir die alomteenwoordige dominerende, magshonger en oneerlike leierskapspersoonlikhede. Hulle wil sien dat hulle leiers se woorde en dade werklik ooreenstem, dat hulle onkreukbare lewens leef en waarlik hulle Christengeloof prakties uitleef op ʼn wyse wat aan God eer bewys. Dit is hoekom outentieke leierskapsteorie die afgelope dekade een van die toonaangewendste en algemeen aanvaarde leierskapsteorieë geword het, en nuttig sal wees vir ontleding van die leierskap van ABC-gegradeerdes.

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