Monday, February 23, 2015
How To Learn To Lead
What we found, however, is that there is absolutely no statistically significant relationship between what you do before age twenty and your likelihood of assuming a very senior leadership role later on in life. It doesn’t matter where you went to school. It does not matter what grades you made. It does not matter if you were in extra curricular activities. It does not matter if your family was wealthy or poor. It does not matter in what city you were born. None of those things matter.I see several factors at play here - one is the organic nature of the relationships. There is such a thing as a bad fit between people - this stuff cannot be forced. The second is summed up here, "not because we’re trying to pass down a certain body of knowledge, but we’re really invested in this young person." That second factor says so much about the state of the church today. We have tried to reduce Christianity to a "certain body of knowledge" and then pass that on. But such is not really the nature of Christianity - Christianity is person formation.
At the same time, there are certain things that happen uniquely in Christian institutions of education that make a profound difference in your likelihood to succeed. Principally, it’s about having a formative relationship with a mentor. What we found is that a lot of schools and businesses try to create structured mentoring programs…say, a management training program where you take twenty new people and you match them up with a senior executive; or in my church youth group, we had basically a system where adult volunteers agreed to mentor a Bible study fellowship format with young people who wanted that.
Those are all well and good, but actually those don’t work very effectively. The real way in which mentoring works effectively is through organic relationships. One of the most important things that Christian institutions can do is create the ecosystem of opportunity out of which those relationships can develop. Unlike state-run institutions of learning or public schools in this country, which have a pretty bureaucratic approach to relationships, Christian institutions recognize we’re really about transforming the individual. We’re in this work, not because we’re trying to pass down a certain body of knowledge, but we’re really invested in this young person. I care deeply about this particular student. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to try and help them, if it means helping them get a job, if it means helping them navigate a family issue, if it means helping them learn a subject.
Small groups are supposed to be what makes this happen, but that forgets the whole "organic relationship" thing. So often small groups happen through all sorts of artificial mechanisms, rather than allowing the relationships to develop.
The easy way through this maze is to point to the institution and say the institution takes so much time that we cannot have time for this stuff. But we need the institution to help preserve a society in which this stuff can happen. So discarding the institution is not the answer. We simply have to be more committed to leadership.
There is no half way with God.