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Archive for May, 2008

One of my PhD seminars this semester is in Leadership.  I find this ironic since leadership is one of the areas in which I feel the least competent.  It’s not that I feel I have NO leadership skills, its just that when one considers the plethora of information in the New Testament about leadership, they realize that it is a discipline that is impossible to truly master.  One of the minor areas of my PhD will be in leadership though, and so I figure that I better begin to learn and master more. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a series on spiritual leadership based on a personal reflection paper that I had to prepare for the class.  I will basically be presenting the paper on my blog in modified form in small, bite-sized sections.  The challenge of the assignment was to formulate a philosophy of leadership based on the teachings of the New Testament.  Having been in pastoral ministry for over 12 years now, I found it both fun and challenging to analyze some of the strengths and weaknesses that I perceive as defining my own philosophy of leadership.  Presenting this series will help me in a couple of ways…first by putting my ideas on leadership out there for others to read and respond to, but also, using this paper will allow me to “multi-task” by giving me fresh blog-posts in a time when I really don’t have the time to be posting new posts every day.  You see, I leave this Sunday (Mothers Day) for my 2-week doctoral cohort on the campus of Southern Seminary, and I am literally SWAMPED with work until then.  Actually, I have been swamped for the past 6 weeks trying to finish up the required work for the seminars.  So I hope you enjoy these thoughts… 

Before I begin the series though, I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to some interesting reading on leadership.  Below are the key texts that I was required to read this semester with brief descriptions of each piece.  Overall, the reading was fantastic.  The text choices provided me with a great blend of secular and sacred perspectives on leadership, which challenged me to consider the value of secular leadership models for spiritual leadership development.  I believe that the secular leadership models can be very valuable, albeit somewhat limited.  Serious reading of the secular texts will demonstrate that many of the best values and practices set forth by secular leadership gurus actually have their basis in Scripture and the ministry of Jesus, even if the secular authors do not recognize it!  Here are the books to consider…

1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins, 2001, Collins Publishers, 300 pgs.  This #1 best-seller had a huge impact on the business-world and has become a classic in corporate leadership.  Basically, Collins, a former Stanford Business prof and now management researcher, studied what characteristics marked companies that made amazing turnarounds. He discovered 6 key characteristics that marked these companies, including what he calls 1) Level-5 leadership 2) The ‘first who then what’ principle 3) The confrontation of the brutal facts 4) The hedgehog concept 5) A culture of discipline and 6)Technology accelerators.  The strength of the book is found in its thorough research.  It may be a bit-too technical at times for the non-business-person, but overall, even those outside the business world will be able to benefit from the basic principles put forth in this book.  The principles apply to leadership in almost any sector.  One of the most impressive factors is how closely his “level-5 leadership” description is characterized by Scriptural principles, such as humility, modesty, contentment, passion for the organization, ambition and tenacious resolve. He points out the importance of owning responsibility for one’s mistakes and being able to take on the mantle of responsibility if one desires to be a great leader. 

It is noteworthy that this book became the catalyst for Dr. Thom Rainer’s  Breakout Churches  book released in 2005.  This is not an overstatement or speculation.  Dr Rainer admits as much and his book is almost a mirror reflection of Collins’ book only with spiritual leadership in mind.  Dr. Rainer’s characteristics that characterized great turnaround churches are in lock-step with Collins’ six factors.  It is very helpful if one is going to read Dr. Rainer’s text to read or at least reference Collins’ book first. 

This book, along with other secular leadership texts, should prompt interested Christian leaders to examine the value of secular leadership models.  You are not hearing me say that the church should be run like a corporation; I don’t believe that.  Furthermore, not every insight in the secular leadership texts is helpful, there are some which are to be rejected.  As I already mentioned, the secular paradigms are obviously flawed in that they are not based on the truths of scripture.  That being said though, there are still some very valuable insights to be learned by understanding how individuals in any context are able to captivate their people, gain the necessary credibility to lead them, and then institute massive changes to organizations that completely rescue them from irrelevance. 

Sounds like many pastors and churches could stand to learn at least a little something from these folks… 

More tomorrow on another leadership text…Kouzes and Posner’s The Leadership Challenge…

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