Friday, October 18, 2013
Cue Dionne Warwick!
And I cannot help but have that old Dionne Warwick tune pop into my head.
But I am being flip about a very serious subject. Says Mark in one of the wiser things I have ever read:
Organizations need managers. But they die without leaders, lots of leaders who can shepherd ideas from vision to reality.Have you ever thought about the fact that the apostles, with the exception of Paul were not, in today's terms, "professionals." They were blue collar types - literate, but under educated.= - they were not of the leadership class.
In my experience, the best leaders are first of all, servants. They're not people who bark out orders or, as the Brits say, "put a bit of stick about." Leaders know that even if they have the power of coercion over the people they've been called to lead, coercion is, at best, management. Leaders persuade, convince, inspire.
They're people who put their hearts on the line, have a passion for moving in a certain direction, and accept the probability of rejection and ridicule. (After all, it's always easier to be a lemming who goes with the flow than a leader who dares to call a halt to most organizations' suicide marches.)
And, in my estimation, anyone who tries to lead in the power of their own personality is crazy. I have come to understand the truth of what Jesus says to His followers "apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:8) and of what Saint Paul writes, "I can do all things through [Christ] Who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). The very best leaders I have ever known, like my internship supervisor, Pastor Jim Petteys, and my colleague and friend, Pastor Steve Sjogren, have also been humble servants of Christ who have relied on Him above all.
I have jettisoned the idea that only certain types of people are meant to be leaders. Jim and Steve, for example, are very different in personality and temperament. But both, in their own ways, showed me what a leader looks like.
Here's the thing: Everyone is called upon to be a leader sometimes.
But most people shirk from leadership and here's why: It's a lot easier to master the techniques of management or, worse yet, to pretend that we have nothing to offer others, than it is to take the grief of leading the charge for a vision, especially if we believe that vision has been planted in our minds and hearts by God.
The hardest part of what Mark is saying here, and the apostles experienced this, is that the "leadership class" has a vested interest in keeping its ranks thin and entry barriers very high. In apostolic terms this was called "persecution." Nowadays it generally does not involve trials and death sentences, it is nonetheless very real. One attribute of a leader that I think Mark left out is a willingness to suffer such persecution, regardless of its forms.
It's also a big reason why people do not pick up the mantle of leadership. But what a different plce the world would be if we were but willing to suffer, just a little.