Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Leading the Way Forward

Quote of the day:

“Leaders with great goals pushed past all the conflict and tension, removed any doubt about self-interest, and dissolved the messiness and noise of the current state.”

—Mark Hannum, Become: The Path to Purposeful Leadership (McGraw-Hill, 2019)

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… an individual, working alone, is unable to satisfy today’s mix of personal, organizational, and global demands. Today, leaders at every level make choices to set aside personal ego and control, trust in their teams and talent, and better influence and direct others to achieve the desired needs of unique organizational systems.

– Wade A. McNair, LeadAbility: Transforming the Way We Live and Work Together

In the context I am thinking of, we are lacking in LeadAbility because of Conflict and Competition, in place of Cooperation and Collaboration. What’s missing is Truth and Trust.

The author closes his book with this pledge:

A Better Leader Pledge

I will be better today
than I was yesterday.
I will be better tomorrow
than I am today.

Every day I will choose to
Live Wholeheartedly,
Learn Continuously, and
Lead Courageously.

As a result, I will better my own life,
the lives of those around me,
and the world we live in.

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Very timely and important .. have a listen!  Especially helpful beginning at 13:00 minute mark. I have been getting a bit frustrated repeating the same thing over and over but people are slow to hear and understand. I’m talking about your typical hierarchical leadership model.

So I plead with you: LISTEN!


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Some good points on how leaders impact an organization’s culture:

1. Speed

The phrase “speed of the leader, speed of the team” typically proves to be true. A lethargic and indecisive leader will lead a slow-moving team. And a team bent toward rigorous execution is led by a leader who is as well.

2. Enthusiasm

A team’s passion or passivity is typically reflective of their leader. If a leader is passionate for the mission, the team will be passionate for the mission. If the leader passively approaches the work, the team will passively approach the work as well.

3. Demeanor

An optimistic and passionate leader will infuse the team with optimism and passion. A defeated and miserable leader will form a defeated team. Rarely will you find a happy group of people that are led by a miserable leader.

4. Responsiveness

A leader’s level and speed of responsiveness is contagious. If a leader is responsive to people on the team, people on the team will be responsive to one another and to the people the team is designed to serve. And the speed of the leader’s responsiveness sets the standard for the others’ speed of responsiveness.

5. Expectations

The expectations of the team will not rise above the expectations the leader places on himself or herself. If the leader tolerates mediocrity and lack of discipline, the team will as well.

6. Learning

Learning leaders lead learning teams. If a leader is not learning and adjusting, the team will likely not be learning and adjusting either. If the leader is learning and growing, people on the team will either ramp up their learning or eventually tap out.

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“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11,12; ESV)

According to Jeff Dornik, “we have so many pastors who are not qualified in ministry. This is because the system of church is warped.” How so? Well, in most churches, the pastors (shepherds, elders, overseers) “are typically not raised up in that church family. Instead, it’s like a corporation. We need a pastor? Let’s put the word out and see who applies! It’s no longer a church family where the pastors are training up leaders to fill the needs of the local church.”

If we were to measure pastors’ success as to how well the congregation has been equipped for ministry, most would get a failing grade. And yet, the well-oiled machinery continues to hum merrily along. Habits and traditions die hard.

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A journey for me began early in 2016 with a passing comment by a certain brother named “IB” to the effect of: We should make you an elder. Alas, the trajectory of his life would change shortly after making that comment, so that passing remark passed into oblivion. A few notes of that tune would be faintly echoed by another elder but would be cut short by his cryptic song of fear. It resurfaced again last September as a side effect of a sudden event at our church. A few months later, I was explicitly asked if I would consider joining my church’s elder team. After much delay, the day finally arrived this past Saturday at a church members meeting. It was rather anti-climatic actually given the long wait (truth be told, the journey actually began in 1982, but that’s another story).

But it was anti-climatic in another, more important way.

First, let me preface my explanation with some helpful background comments from Dr. Benjamin Merkle, in his helpful article, Should Elders Be Ordained? where he writes (emphasis is mine):

The laying on of hands is often associated with the appointing or commissioning of someone for a specific office or task.  …

Prayer and fasting is also associated with the selection and appointing of leaders. The apostles followed the example of Jesus who prayed all night before choosing His twelve disciples, the apostles (Luke 6:12–13). …

The New Testament never uses the word “ordain” (in the modern, technical sense) in connection with a Christian leader who is installed to an office. Thus, it is often misleading to use the term “ordain” in our modern context if one has in mind the biblical concept of publicly appointing or installing someone to an office. Today, the word “ordain” carries with it the idea that special grace is transferred through the act of laying on of hands. … The New Testament does not teach that those chosen to lead the church are “ordained” to a sacred, priestly office. It also does not teach that only so-called “ordained” clergymen possess the right to preach, baptize, conduct the Lord’s Supper, or pronounce a benediction.

It is the church’s duty to recognize those whom God has set apart for this important duty.  …

Thus, to be appointed to the office of elder implies that a man has met the biblical qualifications, has been called by God, has been approved by the congregation, and consequently has been publicly recognized as one who holds that office. It does not necessarily imply that he works full-time for the church or has been to seminary. Rather, it means that God has called and gifted a person to humbly lead the church.

He makes some confusing comments about titles and office which are not convincing to me, and which, in any case, have no bearing on my concern here.

Merkle concludes by saying,

Elders should be “ordained” if by ordination we simply mean the public recognition of someone to a particular office and ministry. Perhaps a more appropriate, and biblical, term is “appointment” or “commission.” The appointment to a ministry was often accompanied by prayer and fasting and the laying on of hands. These public acts draw attention to the seriousness and importance of the appointment. In addition, elders should be appointed as soon as they take their office.

Alright. I am now ready to explain why the big day was anti-climatic.

First of all, I hope that the current elders earnestly prayed and fasted (individually and together) about the matter before making their selection. Secondly, the process was not as public as it could have been. The elder nominees were announced in bulletin and briefly mentioned, but there was no exhortation that the congregation can (and should) question the curent elders and the nominees if they have any concerns. Lastly, on Sunday, the new elders were not even announced; given that only half the membership attended the members meeting the previous night, it would have helped to reinforce the solemnity of the commission to elderhood if they laid hands and prayed for the new elders. As Merkel said, “These public acts draw attention to the seriousness and importance of the appointment.”

I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s not about me wanting to get my 5 minutes of fame in the spotlight: that’s the last thing I want!  Rather, it would have been nice to have all the elders up at the front as a display of unity, and more simply, so that the congregation knows who the elders are! Anyhow, I am humbled to serve alongside my fellow shepherds and pray that I can be a blessing to them and to the flock.

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Power Corrupts

Mary Hunt writes regarding the Vatican summit on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church:

By many measures it failed miserably. The gathering was too homogenous to be useful. It was framed in the same old top-down way that’s at the heart of the problem. Lay people, both women and men, experts in the law, psychology, theology, and the like were excluded. Clerics met in small groups to talk with other clerics. What could be more wrong with this picture?

Francis’ discussion of power fell flat. He claimed that the sexual abuse of minors is an abuse of power. He completely passed over the structures of vastly unequal power between clergy and laity that are the bedrock of this power differential, a causative factor in church-related abuse. Without changing those structures the chances of eradicating sexual abuse of minors by clergy are nil.

… this selective use of papal power, points to the fundamental problem at hand. It’s the need for new ecclesial structures rooted in a realistic theology that would mitigate power inequities and begin to reshape the global Catholic Church into safer, more participatory communities with the full participation of women and lay men in every facet of church life.

As I’ve said repeatedly before, the hierarchical top-down command-and-control structures that characterizes many eccesial communities is wrong and in the worse case, outright dangerous. But most sheep are dumb, so they will continue to throw their blind trust in wolves-in-sheep’s clothing.

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