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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Some more thoughts on leadership

Over the past couple of months, I have written few blogs because the medications I was taking was off balance, and I was constantly feeling even too tired to write. As I wrote about a week ago, that has been resolved. Yesterday, I actually felt like reading. As I have indicated before, one of the subjects I concentrate on is leadership.

I got my first does of it when I turned on the tv in the morning. I usually catch sports on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Show, where the lead story was of a baseball manager publicly criticizing one of his veteran players before discussing the subject with him in private. The conversation was centered on the idea of: Was this a stupid thing to do that will mess up the team, or is it a “crazy like a fox” move that will draw the team together, even if it draws the team together against the head guy? There is no answer to that question today, the part of the world that cares will see the answer in the team’s results over the next six months.

During the day, I was running some errands for my son on a schedule that left large amounts of down time. About a week ago, I purchased the book Master Leaders by George Barna. While in this blog I have quoted Barna heavily on his work on the subject of simple church, the main thing he is known for is research on the place of Christians and their faith in our society, and how it changes. For this book, he has interviewed 30 persons we could consider leaders, be it in business, politics, military, and church. He (and others) have communicated that we are affected in our emotions and spirits more strongly via story versus a series of facts, which is reflected in how telling the story of Jesus is moving, reading a cathechism in outline form is about as far from moving as something can get. Therefore, with the quoted persons’ permission, he has taken what he got out of these interviews, and woven them into a story of a leadership conference, in which all these persons are backstage at the conference in a discussion. This isn’t a review, as I only made it to page 30 yesterday. I will say that the quote from Mike Huckabee on page 19 is worth reading the book for.

Since mentioning Huckabee brings up the issue of faith and politics, I caught offhand the study Rick Santorum has been quoting which says that if one graduates from high school, works, and gets married before having kids, the chances of being in poverty are 2%. I looked it up this morning, and can see that there are some minor distortions in that statement by itself, which is normal whenever one boils down a serious work to one sentence, but I was interested in that, before I became unable to work, I walked that 2% borderline with a bachelor’s degree. It appears to me that the reference to that study just might shed more heat than light onto modern society’s social problems, not the least of which is where the poverty line is, given that different groups define it so differently, and inflation/deflation makes it an ever moving target.

To all that, a though crossed my head late last evening. One was a quote from John C. Maxwell, a writer on leadership, trained as a pastor, favorite of megachurch pastors, albeit his writings are as much aimed at the business community, which is: If you think you are a leader, and no one is following, you’re just taking a walk. This implies that, to a degree, numbers are important (and numbers of people are what define megachurches). On the other hand, if Jesus defined church in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them”, the whole paradigm of the most important leaders being persons who are listened to by the most persons is stood on its head. I learned before I even realized it that a huge amount of persons “follow” a person they do not like or agree with because of collecting a paycheck. Hang around military types and one can see the paradox of super-patriotism with constant groveling about the “hurry up and wait” process in the military that is an anathema in the business community which is extremely conscious of getting its value out of the employee time they are paying for. Most of us who are everyday believers in Jesus feel, to a degree, hurt and betrayed by those “leaders” who have used God’s funds in scandal (particularly when the use is officially legal), or have personally promoted what is spectacular and exciting over what is solid, if unexciting, basic wisdom in following Jesus.

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