Monday, April 28, 2008

Words, Words, and Leadership

Friedrich Waismann said that “language is the knife with which we cut out facts” (Parkinson G H R ed. 1968:57). It would seem to me much the same when one considers the language that theorists choose to describe movements or organisations, and the so-called leadership that exists within them. As it happens, the model of leadership I am studying for my present thesis puts the leadership-followership distinction at the centre: “There are three basal elements of leadership: leader, followers, and situation” (Clinton J R 1988:182); “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers” (Hunter J C 1999:124). Yet there is other language one could apply. For instance, one might think of a movement e.g. as a divine operation (Banks R and Ledbetter B M 2004:37), or as a living organism (Gibbs E 2005:28). QUESTION: How necessary is the leadership-followership distinction to organisational theory? Is it possible that it is altogether the wrong terminology? What are the consequences of different language that may be envisaged?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Superior Beings?

Is the leader a superior being? I sense that Christian leadership authors would generally deny it. Yet the literature may suggest otherwise. Oswald Sanders considers that leaders have “superior spiritual power”, and “the Spirit works in and through [them] to a greater degree” (Sanders J O 1994:28). Henry and Richard Blackaby consider that leaders have “greater characters” than followers (Blackaby H and Blackaby R 2001:53). John Maxwell believes that leaders are “stronger” than followers (Maxwell J C 1998:70). Andy Stanley considers that Christian leaders wear an “invisible badge” that, presumably, others do not (Stanley A 2006:118). Its name is “moral authority”. Often, leaders would seem to know better than followers what is for their good (Hunter J C 2004:31), or what God intends for them (Clinton J R 1988:26). Personally, while leadership gifts may seem to set one apart, the “spirit” of this does not agree with my spirit. I think of the many “humble Christians” who are spiritual treasures, and crucial to my so-called leadership. How could I ever claim to be superior in this way or that? QUESTION: Are some Christians superior to others? What would constitute such superiority? How would Christian theology reflect on this?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Same Love

Kenneth Boa (The Perfect Leader) states: “To avoid disharmony in the body of Christ, we must all have ‘the same love’ -- Jesus Christ. The more we love Jesus, the more we are able to love one another. Then, and only then, can there exist a united sense of purpose. Then we can refrain from manipulation and self-serving actions. Then we can truly serve others selflessly” (Boa K 2006:65). I would consider that Boa has correctly identified the solution to strife. This is my experience. QUESTION: How should the body develop “the same love”? What if some do not? And how does one define love for Jesus?

Leadership Dropout

The Christian leadership literature yields many examples of leadership “dropout”. There is a “high dropout” in local-church ministry (Gibbs E 2005:176), “many” leave after serving less than two years (Blackaby H and Blackaby R 2001:19), there is a “rather large” dropout in the first several years of full-time ministry (Clinton J R 1989:328), and 50% of trainees for local church ministry are no longer serving ten years later (Gibbs E 2005:79). Also, there are “many reasons” for dropout in latter ministry (Clinton J R 1989:356), “few” leaders finish well (Stanley P D and Clinton J R 1992:11), and “few” achieve “afterglow” (Blackaby H and Blackaby R 2001:45). The casualty rate has reached “disturbingly high levels” in local churches (Gibbs E 2005:19), and thousands of leaders shipwreck their careers every year (Blackaby H and Blackaby R 2001:230). But notice something about these statements. They are all generic -- they are applied universally -- and this is the overwhelming trend in the literature. QUESTION: What does this mean? That is, why is there such generality about dropout, and how does this reflect on current attempts to address the situation? The photo shows Eddie Gibbs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Power to Serve

The Christian leadership literature frequently mentions the need to serve, and advances various examples of those who did: Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and so on. “If you choose to lead, you must serve” (Hunter J C 2004:72). Yet does the literature mean quite what one would imagine it does with “service”? James Hunter quotes George Bush Sr.: “There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people” (Hunter J C 2004:63). Similarly, Walter Wright considers: “Leadership is the use of power to serve the people” (Wright W 2000:180). Yet is not true service the relinquishment of power, not the use of it? Christ “made Himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7). QUESTION: What constitutes “power”? The power to earn? The power to leave? The power to lead? The power to fund? The power to adjust? The power to protect? The power to advance? Which kinds of power should one be ready to relinquish? The photo shows Hunter’s The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Crisis of Forgiveness

There has been much discussion in the Global North over the “crisis of leadership”. Walter C. Wright (Relational Leadership) considers: “The crisis of leadership, I believe, is a crisis of forgiveness. Leaders are expected to lead without mistakes” (Wright W C 2000:202). Supposing for a moment that Wright is correct, I would understand it like this. Leaders may be condemned by the law -- or leaders may be redeemed by grace. It is by the law that their mistakes are revealed -- it is by grace that the unmerited acts of God through them are cherished. QUESTION: Why are leaders being “condemned by the law”? What lies at the root of this?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ministry as Pointing

Walter C. Wright (Relational Leadership) considers: “We are called to live the resurrected life in such a way that it points people to God wherever we find ourselves ... It is to the God who holds on to us that we point people when we seek to exercise leadership as Christians.” (Wright W C 2000:7,21). Of all the North American literature I have read, such “pointing” comes closest to my own ministry philosophy. QUESTION: Yet what does it mean to point to God? To point to His Person? His deeds? His attributes as exemplar? His commandments? God in me?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Readers in Islamic Nations

It’s interesting to note that about 5% of those who have looked into this Leadership South blog live in Islamic countries. By way of contrast, this is not so with my ministry blog (Urban Ministry Live and Unplugged), which shows close to no visits from Islamic countries. Sitemeter’s “world map” shows that there have recently been visitors here from six or seven Islamic nations. I have no idea why this is so. Welcome.