Thursday, January 31, 2008

Affirming the Consequent

“Affirming the consequent” is a fallacy that is crucial to Christian leadership theory. Here’s a simple example of the fallacy: 1. If Joe lives to be 100, then Joe ate cherries. 2. Joe has lived to be 100. 3. Therefore Joe ate cherries. This is a fallacy because the conclusion may be false even if the premisses (lines 1. and 2.) are true (Mautner T 2000:8). Even if Joe lives to be 100, and even if Joe ate cherries, and even if all persons who live to be 100 ate cherries, there is the possibility that any number of cherry-eaters will only live to be, say, 30 (the real key to longevity may lie elsewhere). The same with leadership theory. Take the previous post, which proposes that, if Joe succeeds in leadership, then Joe had mentors -- and so on. To put it simply, even if a Christian leadership theory advances much evidence in its support, this may prove little, if not dangerously little -- if the fallacy of affirming the consequent is present. QUESTION: What would a theory need in order to avoid this fallacy?

Just the Facts?

J. Robert Clinton bases his mentoring model (The Mentor Handbook) on “600 case studies of [serving] leaders” (Clinton J R 1991:1-1). Most of these studies reveal “between 3 and 10 significant people” who served as mentors in a leader’s life. A major purpose of the model is, of course, to limit dropout from Christian leadership. But consider this. How many “significant people” were there in the lives of those who dropped out? And how many of those included in the case studies will YET drop out? We have no idea. Therefore what do the 600 case studies prove? At first glance, 600 case studies has a convincing ring to it -- yet there is a fallacy at the heart of it, which is the subject of my next post. QUESTION: To what degree are the data invalidated in this example? Completely?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, in a letter of 21 July 1944: "I remember talking to a young French pastor at A. thirteen years ago. We were discussing what our real purpose was in life. He said he would like to become a saint. I think it is quite likely he did become one. At the time I was very much impressed, though I disagreed with him, and said I should prefer to have faith, or words to that effect. For a long time I did not realise how far we were apart. I thought I could acquire faith by trying to live a holy life, or something like it" (Bonhoeffer D 1953:124). QUESTION: As leaders, are we seeking to become saints, or to have faith? Are the two as far apart as Bonhoeffer suggests?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Who You Are

It is a commonly held view that “who you are” is critical to Christian leadership. Andy Stanley considers: “Your doing will flow from who you are” (Stanley A 2003:132); J. Robert Clinton writes: “You minister from what you are” (Clinton J R 1988:32); Leighton Ford writes: “Leadership is first of all ... something one is” (Ford L 1999:38); while Myles Munroe considers: “Leadership comes down to ... who you are” (Munroe M 2005:81). My spontaneous response is that I minister out of WHO GOD IS. From my opening words on a Sunday morning, through my words to counselees, through my personal choices, through the selection of office-bearers, through moments of Church crisis, through every aspect of ministry, “who God is” (and who He is to others) is of critical importance to me. QUESTION: Is “who God is” just another aspect of “who you are”? Or are these distinct alternatives?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spiritual Change

Henry and Richard Blackaby (Spiritual Leadership) consider: “Ultimately, spiritual leaders cannot bring about spiritual change in people; only the Holy Spirit can accomplish this” (Blackaby H and Blackaby R 2001:21). QUESTION: Are spiritual leaders then, of themselves, only able to bring about NON-spiritual change in people? What implications would this have for Christian leadership?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Church Conflict

I met yesterday afternoon with a Church consultant. I said, “What is the cause of Church conflict?” He said, “Where are you coming from?” I said, “From the point of view of theory -- theology -- underlying causes.” He said, “It’s ownership. People passionately own their beliefs. They say, ‘It’s my Church, and God is invited,’ rather than, ‘It’s God’s Church, and I’m invited.’” QUESTION: How would one overcome this attitude of “ownership”? Does a leader need to overcome it, too?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Leadership Without Faith

Myles Munroe lists thirty-four “values of the spirit of leadership” (Munroe M 2005:283). George Barna lists thirty-one requirements for “the Christlike character of a leader” (Barna G ed. 1997:23). Oswald Sanders lists sixteen “essential qualities of leadership" (Sanders J O 1994:51). Andy Stanley lists nine components of "success" (Stanley A 2003:132). And Jerry Wofford lists fifteen “Scriptural leadership values” (Wofford J C 1999:47). In none of these lists does FAITH appear -- Greek πίστις -- faith/trust in God. And yet “without faith it is impossible to please God”. QUESTION: What is the reason that, in all of these “Northern” lists of leadership requirements, faith is missing? What would “faith/trust in God” mean in the context of leading others?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fastest-Growing Churches

The book Big Questions In History is a fascinating mix which includes the chapter: “Why do religious and spiritual movements grow?” With regard to the Christian Church, it notes that “the fastest-growing types of Christianity in Africa, Latin America and Asia feature a less intellectually rarefied, omniscient, interventionist God ...” (Swain H ed. 2005:179). QUESTION: How does this description compare with the Church in the Global North? Is an absence of such features a cause of decline?

Ignorant Kings

Myles Munroe, author of The Spirit of Leadership, considers that we all have the latent power of leadership. But we are “victimized by ignorance ... we have become ignorant kings. Not only do we not know who we are, where we came from, and what we are capable of, but we also don’t know how to use the resources the Creator has given us” (Munroe M 2005:167, 173). Therefore, “[God] sent the Word (his thoughts) to earth to correct and redirect our thinking” (:191). So we need to “patiently allow the new information to settle into your subconscious” (:202). QUESTION: What is the origin of such teaching? It would seem reminiscent of Socrates’ notion that evil is ignorance.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Transformational = Conflictual?

Recently Igor Kotlyar and Leonard Karakowsky wrote an interesting paper which proposes “a potential link between transformational leadership behavior and the generation of dysfunctional team conflict”. There’s a free copy at While cognitive (ideas) conflict is usually seen to be healthy, affective (emotional) conflict is usually seen to be counter-productive. The paper states that transformational leadership, for the reason that it promotes “motive arousal”, may “strengthen the connection between cognitive and affective conflict”. Thus there is a need for “enforcement of the rules of the game -- creating parameters for generating and maintaining cognitive conflict while curtailing the transmission of affective conflict”. However, such a solution would normally fall outside the transformational leadership paradigm. QUESTION: Do you think there is truth in this, that transformational leadership may promote conflict? And have Kotlyar and Karakowsky correctly identified the source of conflict in transformational leadership?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Approaches to Culture

There are perhaps three ways to deal with diverse cultures in a Church: 1. Deliberately celebrate cultural differences, 2. Level the Church to the same cultural norms, or 3. Erase culture as an issue in the Church. In the case of the first two, Charles van Engen (see photo) warns of “an over-emphasis on particularity” and “an over-emphasis on universality” (Van Engen C 1997:6,9). In our own Church, which has no majority cultural group, race and culture are essentially removed from our vocabulary. There is an understanding that culture is a servant of worship, and of our ministry to one another and the world. That is, what matters is worship and ministry, not the cultural expressions in which it is done. Thus cultural particularities are of little importance to us -- such as language, dress, or expressions of worship. QUESTION: Agreed? Or how about e.g. breastfeeding in the pews, Communist Party T-shirts in Church, or people entering the Church in drag? (all real examples from our experience).

Leadership vs. Manipulation

I find that I continually encounter what would seem to be inner tensions in the Christian leadership literature. See if you can see this one. Vance Packard's definition of leadership is "getting others to want to do something that you are convinced should be done". But George Barna (Leaders on Leadership) rejects this definition, commenting that it "speaks more of manipulation than of true leadership" (Barna G 1997:22). Turn the pages, however, and Barna states that, in his view, vision is "communicated by God to His chosen servant-leaders ... The leader who possesses such vision knows exactly what he wants to achieve and what the end product will look like" (:47). QUESTION: How, then, do Barna's own views differ substantially from those of Packard? I fail to see it. Surely it's still a matter of getting others to follow my conviction.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Model of Despair?

Leighton Ford (Transforming Leadership) asks: "Given our all-too-human feelings of inadequacy, in what sense can Jesus be taken as our leadership model? ... If we are not what he is, then is his leadership model not a model of despair?" Ford offers eight possible answers (Ford L 1991:30). Personally, I don't find any one of them really speaks to the point -- but it's a vital question. QUESTION: Is not "Jesus the model" essentially the same as "Moses the lawgiver" -- only that much more exacting? How would the Christian leader lead through grace rather than law?

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Leadership Fallacy

Leadership theory would frequently seem to be bedevilled by a fallacy called “begging the question” (petitio principii). Applied to leadership, it would look something like this: 1. Let us suppose that, if Joe is a man of integrity, he is a leader. 2. Joe is a man of integrity. 3. Therefore, Joe is a leader. However, there is a supposition here. It is assumed that leaders are men/women of integrity, or may be defined as men/women of integrity (they could be defined in other ways, although that’s not the focus here). So the fallacy invalidates the argument. It “begs the question”. QUESTION: What would a leadership theory need to put forward in order not to “beg the question”? In what ways would a theory need to be validated (or otherwise)?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Person: I, Me, My

I've just completed John C. Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He states: “I realized that I had leveraged my time as much as I possibly could ... That left me only one choice: learning to work through others” (Maxwell J C 1998:116). Here’s a similar quote: “You see, I know I have more potential that I haven’t yet reached, and if I want someday to get there, I’ve got to surround myself with the best people possible” (Maxwell J C 1998:116). What caught my eye was the many references to the first person (eleven of them here). QUESTION: Is it egotism? If so, might this be a natural outcome of a leadership theory which considers that “everything rises and falls on leadership”? (Maxwell J C 1998:225). The photo shows John C. Maxwell.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Divine Operation"

I appreciated this passage in Banks and Ledbetter (Reviewing Leadership). It would seem to typify the way that I see “Church”: “For Paul, what happens at church gatherings originates in the Spirit and flows through the entire membership for the benefit of all. Everyone is caught up in this divine operation (1 Cor. 12:7). The process itself is described through the use of action verbs that stress its dynamic character: Contributions to the meetings are ‘energized’, ‘manifested’, and ‘distributed’ by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:6-7, 11). Paul uses a variety of nouns to capture the diversity of what takes place: It is an exercise of ‘gifts’, a variety of ‘services’, different kinds of ‘working’ (1 Cor. 12:4-6)” (Banks R and Ledbetter B M 2004:37). QUESTION: Is a gathering of the Church in fact a “divine operation”? What significance, then, does any individual have? Does this mean that I need not fret over my personal contribution?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

16% Holy Spirit

While I have my academic supervisor in mind, his doctoral dissertation surveyed 116 books on Christian leadership -- mostly originating in the Global North. He found that just 16% of these books dealt with the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian leadership. Details are in the Addendum of his dissertation, which may be downloaded free from (5.8 MB). It is written in Afrikaans, but has an English abstract. QUESTION: So what happened to the Holy Spirit? SHOULD He be there?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Stick to It?

Here’s something interesting in Transformational Ministry. Quoting Eugene Peterson, Michael Jinkins emhasises that, once one has been ordained to Christian ministry, “we want your vow that you will stick to it” (Jinkins M 2002:32). He adds: “I want to reiterate what he [Peterson] is saying ... our responsibility is to keep on keeping on -- and on -- and on.” The back cover states that Jinkins has been in ministry. The Preface states that he now has “the privilege of teaching in a seminary”. QUESTION: Did I miss something?

Theology's Polygraph

The late Alan E. Lewis said: “Ministry is theology’s polygraph” (Jinkins M 2002:ix). QUESTION: Would it not seem that, all too often, it’s a case of: “Theology is ministry’s polygraph”? That there is a tendency to start with ideology at the expense of ministry?

My Academic Supervisor

Here’s a good place to start. My present academic supervisor is Dr. Vincent Atterbury, of the South African Theological Seminary (SATS) -- the largest independent theological seminary in Southern Africa ( He is a pastor in the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), and the AFM's Executive Director of Education and Training. Vincent is very matter-of-fact. He communicates with me through “telegrams” -- often just a single line. However, they are well targeted telegrams, which have helped me a great deal. QUESTION: What would be your expectation of a supervisor? For instance, would you expect a personal relationship?