Leaders

 Leading: The art of getting people focused on an idealized future and moving full steam in that direction. This art has been written about so much that a search for the word leadership brings out 499 million records in 27 seconds on Google. 

 

Key in unpacking the concept is accepting that to lead is to live dangerously! Every day, in every facet in life, opportunities to lead call out to us. At work and home, in our local communities and in the global village, the chance to make a difference beckons. Yet most of us often hesitate. For all its passion and promise, for all its excitement and rewards, leading is risky, dangerous work! Why you would ask. Because real leadership -the kind that surfaces conflict, challenges long held beliefs, and demands new ways of doing things – causes pain. And when people feel threatened, they take aim at the person pushing for change. As a result, leaders often get hurt both personally and professionally. It is my wish that through this medium and other platforms, we will learn to understand that for those of us that are called to lead others, putting ourselves on the line, responding to the risks and living to celebrate our efforts is all in a day’s work 

 

The concept of leadership has more followers and equally experts than most subjects with each publication building on already established ones. This piece does not seek to add to the amount of writing that has been done on the subject, but rather will seek to give my take on the discipline of leading others using Jesus Christ as the model leader. In order to embark on the content properly, it is crucial to accept that the question of nature vs. nurture is key and needs to be resolved up front. There are people who are born with a gift to lead while there is also a large body of knowledge that seeks to teach the discipline of leading. Both these are crucial as some aspects of leading (for instance values or charisma) may prove difficult to teach while others may easily be taught (for instance the management aspects of leadership). So, are leaders born or made? It depends on what your DNA came programmed with and what social conditions you are raised under!

In attempting to discuss the person of Jesus Christ in the context of leadership, it is important to specify that both historical accounts and structural records do not project Christ as a warm and fuzzy character that has come to be the theme of most sermons. Jesus Christ was and is the epitome of leading change. Firstly, those involved in the process of leading change will tell you that it is one of the most difficult roles a human being can attempt. This is so because as human beings, we hate change even though admitting so is politically incorrect. So we resist moving from our comfort zones especially when the next zone does not guarantee comfort upfront. So Jesus Christ introduces an ideology that challenges the established Jewish religious foundation while at the same time declaring himself the son of the living God. This makes his mission dangerous for itself and for him as the face of it.

 

Secondly, he presents himself as the means to salvation while also teaching that salvation is itself for the glory of God. Now, the doctrine of the Christian faith is based on the concept of Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). This is a double jeopardy that makes Christ both the means to and the end of salvation (in his words: the way the truth and the life). So Jesus embarked on a journey of introducing himself as the solution, convince people of that fact and then establishing a momentum that would go on and last for eternity.

 

Having touched on the concept and model (Jesus himself)of leading in the context of the Christian doctrine, let’s turn to the actual practical side of leading. Most authors agree that leading people has to do mostly with vision and enlisting others to follow and deliver towards that vision. Therefore the first task of leadership in practice is to come up with the vision. To bring this home, Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven that is at hand (a vision of a future place). He encourages his audience to repent and turn from their worldly ways in order to be ready to live as kingdom citizens. 

 

 

 A vision is a picture of what the future may look like provided the conditions in the current trajectory remain according to what is envisioned. Once the visionary leader has the vision the next task is to get others to believe in this future. It is often at this point that most visions fail and stay pipe dreams as leaders fail to enlist followers towards the future and or craft the way (strategy) to get there. To borrow from Jim Collins et al (Good to Great), Leadership is a blend of extreme personal humility combined with intense professional will. In other words true leadership is a combination of meekness and determination for the vision to become a reality. In the case of Jesus Christ, we have a man that is willing to “turn the other cheek” while at the same time not compromising on the scriptural basis of his vision.

 

 

Personal humility should not be mistaken for weakness as its often in this humility that true power is gained. In other words, it is not the fact that Jesus is part of the Almighty Trinity that makes his doctrine so powerful. To the contrary, it is because he is willing to suspend his power when all evidence says use it that he is the means and the end of all things. The willingness to lay down his life for one and all of creation makes powerful beyond measure. Most leaders (regardless of creed or culture) who were willing to lay down their lives for the cause (vision) became more powerful because of that willingness. Today we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Marcus Garvey, Abraham Lincoln, Patrice Lumumba and many others who came before who were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed. The willingness to die for the ideal we stand for makes the ideal more powerful than the readiness to kill for it would ever do.

 

 

Professional will on the other hand means the willingness to make the vision a reality regardless of what reality presents. This often has been likened to madness as sometimes the facts often say the opposite (the economy, the competition, stock exchange, skills levels, brand equity and so forth). Of cause I am not propagating that decisions should be interrogated using facts and figures, however we know that their believe in the vision often supersede the reality of the current moment. So we have brands like Apple,  Nelson Mandela and so forth that went beyond the conditions of the current age. So, Jesus Christ went about preaching the message of repentance in an environment where it was dangerous and unfashionable to do so. Because he was sold to (or we could say was born to) the vision of reconciliation of humanity to God the father, he was not intimidated by the High priests, the King or any other authoritarian establishment of the time. For he knew that what he was born for was worth all the grief and pain humanly possible even to a point of dying on the cross.

 

According to Collins et al, there are five attributes that typify a true Leader:

  •         They are self-confident enough to set up their successors for success.
  •          They are humble and modest.
  •          They have "unwavering resolve."
  •          They display a "workmanlike diligence - more plow horse than show horse."

·         They give credit to others for their success and take full responsibility for poor results. They "attribute much of their success to 'good luck' rather than personal greatness."

In conclusion, it is our wish that the dangerously risky task of leading humanity continues to draw on the strength that is Christ and all efforts will be expended to cultivate and nurture such through this medium. Therefore Spirit Dominion exists to further the ideal of leading like Christ by sharing content virtually, matching mentors to potential future leaders and where possible mobilize resources for education for such potential leaders to ensure the ideal of reconciling humanity to the Almighty always informs leadership undertaking.

 

 

©Spirit Dominion