Monday, February 25, 2008

True Leadership

It occurs to me that the people widely regarded as leaders have two things in common. First, they tout the strongest opinions. Second, they have a charisma that inspires others to confidence in their decisions.

People are often confused about opinions. A belief that holds something as true for everyone is not an opinion. For example, there are those whom I tell that "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but by Him" who would balk by saying, "Everyone is entitled to their opinion." It's not an opinion, it's a theological doctrine that I may believe whether I prefer to believe or not. If I go diving in shark-infested water, I may believe that my life is in danger. I don't want to believe that my life is in danger, and my belief may be warranted or not. However, my belief that something is true is not opinion. Rather, opinion is preferential. For example, someone may ask, "Do you like the red or the blue better?" If I answer with either one, I have given my opinion.

People who voice opinions the loudest are seen as those with great leadership potential. If a cat needs to be skinned, the goal is to skin the cat. There may be 10 different ways to skin the proverbial cat. Two people approach the cat to be skinned and one person starts to skin it. The other person asserts, "That's no way to skin a cat. You must skin a cat this way!" And then proceeds to skin it some other way. The first person follows the second with the understanding that it doesn't matter how you skin the cat; only that the cat is skinned; and an argument with the bull-headed one is counterproductive. The second person is seen as the leader for no other reason that he had a stronger opinion.

I use "charisma" for lack of a better term. More technically, you would think that this was the spirit of a person. However, while it speaks of the perception of a person by others, it elicits in others a certain confidence. I offer a true story devoid of detail for illustrating this:

In an early meeting planning something one person said, "We should do ABC because XYZ." The other people in the meeting summarily ignored him.

Later in the same meeting, another member spoke up and said, "We should do ABC because XYZ."

The other members turned to him and said, "See. This is why you should be the leader of our group."

If asked, I doubt anyone would realize that they ignored the first man's decisive statement. What was the difference between the two men? One said it first, but the second found himself favored. The difference isn't in the information I gave. In fact the only difference in the actual account that I could tell is in the charisma of the men. In this case, the charisma boils down to a person's mannerisms. If you say "confidence", then that confidence must be communicated behaviorally. If you say, "manner of speech", then you are referring to behavior. If you say, "the look in his eye", you are talking about behavior.

As someone skilled in acting, I know that these are behaviors and can be effected. However, one who does this is disingenuous. I know because I've done this as a leader of men in the Marine Corps. I did it because it was necessary to be a leader in a time of war. In the Body of Christ, leadership should be much different. In physical combat we fight with the sword and wield it with the strength of our bodies. In spiritual combat, we wield truth. However, we set aside our strength for God to use His strength in us.

Why do we follow the patterns of leadership established by the world and fail to recognize the patterns of leadership established by God. The kind of leadership carried out not from a position that appears powerful, but one of ultimate power carried out in One dying on a cross. Worldly power would have exhibited itself in the issuing of a command to 12 legions of angels awaiting to free the One from having to die and issue judgment on an unredeemed world.

True leadership did not exercise the power available and withheld that command.

The angels stood silent. The power of the death of the One was evident as a storm brewed, an earthquake disturbed the Passover, the veil was torn and dead men awoke and walked about town. No longer did the charisma of His behavior draw the crowds to His teaching. He drew only scorn to His lifeless body.

The One hung limp.

The True Leader did not escape death. He went through it..He defeated it yet not by power, but by His relationship with the Father as the Creator and bought the people who would follow Him with His own sacrifice.

Who do you look to for leadership?

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