“…the leader who wants to make a difference had better make a public commitment to stay…
Observers of leadership have long noted that leaders often overestimate what can be accomplished in a single year, but underestimate what can be accomplished in a decade…
…Each year I (Mohler) do a serious, gut wrenching analysis of what we accomplished and experienced. Every one of these years has been eventful–some blazingly so–but I now have difficulty remembering what year a given event happened. Years blend into decades. To be honest, I never felt that a year was whole. On the other hand, the decades feel right. Years go by in a flash, but the decades linger.”
~Albert Mohler, “Conviction to Lead”, chapter 23, pages 192 and 195
Here is more good advice from “Conviction to Lead” by Albert Mohler, chapter 15, “Leaders are Speakers”.
“…the effective leader (in public speaking) must work at establishing a connection with the audience’s emotions as well as their intellects. People are usually not very hard to understand. They want the security of knowing that leaders are setting an intelligent, reasonable, and responsible course. But they also want to be part of something great, something significant, something that changes lives.
In other words, the effective leader combines ethos (arguments based in the character of the speaker), pathos (arguments intended to produce change by appealing to the emotions of the hearers), and logos (arguments designed to persuade by means of logical argument) in every speech, every talk, every presentation, and every message–every time.” *
1) Know what you want to say…
“Any effective and worthy speech begins with the speaker desiring to share a message–and the speaker, above all else, must know what that message is.”
2) Know your audience…
“You need to know the anticipated size, composition, and expectations of the listeners. Your convictions will remain constant, but your mode of speaking will vary.”
3) Outline your message…
“You are not enslaved to it, but it is essential to your strategy for presenting your message.”
4) Frame your presentation…
“You are delivering this message because it fits within your larger leadership mission and agenda, and within the larger strategy of your organization.”
5) Punctuate and illustrate…
“…you must insert particularly powerful and memorable content into your message in order to drive home certain truths, points, and convictions. You can punctuate with your voice, with your language, and with your speaking cadence.”
6) Get yourself ready…
“Do what you need to do to get yourself mentally and physically ready for the speaking event. Then pray that God will use you and your message to His glory.”
7) Speak like you mean it…
“Speak the language of conviction, using every appropriate form of argument and explanation that serves your purpose.”
8) Tell the audience what to do…
“Do not end your message without an action plan that fits the message. Don’t leave your audience asking, ‘Okay, now what?’”
“…to be immortal you don’t have to be eternal.” **
* pages 128-129
** pages 140-142
My last blog post got me thinking. And as my last blog post implies, I have not earned the credibility to teach anyone about leadership. But I can write out my thoughts in a blog that no one reads. Enjoy.
I grew up going to a Christian Reformed Church. The CRC is a denomination with roots going back straight to the reformation. What is the glue that has kept this organization together for all these years? From what I see, it’s its theology, doctrines, creeds, and leaders who hold true to these things. If some leaders are taken out, the theology and doctrine are still there for new leaders to take up.
Some people cringe at the thought of having strong theology or doctrine. They don’t want to be tied to some “dead” doctrine, they want to be led by the Spirit! You’ll notice that organizations who hold to this kind of thinking place a lot of emphases on the personalities of their charismatic leaders along with the leader’s vision*. But what happens to these organizations when their leaders are taken out?
*And often what will be quoted is Prov. 29:18, or at least the first half: “Where there is no vision, the people perish…(enter relevant vision here)”, we don’t want to mention the second half because then the verse would no longer mean what we want it to.
As I study Church history I see that after the book of Acts, the early church began to seriously define, through creeds and doctrine (which just means “a teaching”), what it was that they truly believed–doctrines about the Trintiy, doctrines about Jesus’s divinity and humanity, doctrines about the authority of scripture. And they didn’t write these creeds and doctrines because they had control issues, they wrote them because they were necessary to protect the future of the Church. There were a lot of guys at the time teaching all sorts of incorrect things about the Gospel. We call them heretics. The teachers of truth (aka: the leaders) upheld the truths of the doctrine and protected the Church. If some leaders were taken out, there were others to pick up the doctrine and move ahead. When the Church became corrupt it was not because of the doctrine, it was because they strayed from the doctrine (as inspired from the Bible, not the man made stuff).
Fast forward to the present and we can start adding some other words to the mix: vision**, strategy, and policy, and we can sum up these words into one: method. If a church organization does not have a clear over-arching method, which is determined by theology and doctrine, nor the leaders to uphold these things, then the organization will just be centered around a small team of charismatic (and, by default, arbitrary) leaders. And what happens when they’re gone? The organization will probably just break up. Having nothing to adhere to, the strong, up-and-coming, potential leaders of the organization will go on to follow their own personal agendas.
**I put vision here with a small v: the small day to day ideas we get excited about; the big V vision is the theology and doctrine or Prov 29:18b.
While theological principles are unchanging, method is not. We need to treat our methods like the main character in a good Cormac McCarthy novel. We need to find new and creative ways to torment and kill our policies. If the story is getting stale, we throw our procedures into a Mexican prison, or pit them in a knife fight with a crazy hit man. If they survive, they are worth keeping. If they die, then forget about them. That which survives is what the organization can cling to and run with. Methods are not meant to control or hinder the workers, methods are there to free up the workers and allow the workers to function at their full capacity. I build a fence around my yard, not so that I can imprison my children, but so that they can play to the very edges of the property without getting killed.
Methods which promote freedom for the workers are written by informed leaders. Does the leader even know what’s going on? When the method is written and the worker says it won’t work, does the leader listen? Are the methods designed so that the organization can grow into the future, or are they designed to assuage the mulish elite leadership?
The future of a Christian organization is written in its theology, doctrine, and method–that is the glue which keeps it together. The organization’s existence is kept safe in these things. Leaders are temporary. When they go, what will the next generation of leaders be able to take hold of to keep the organization alive? If there is nothing, then the oranization will die. And maybe that is a good thing. Maybe an organization without clear theology, strong doctrine, or wise methods doesn’t deserve to exist.
“The plans and visions of the leader will be outdated soon after his burial…
…convictions came before us and will last when we are gone.” ~Albert Mohler
Here are two excerpts from Albert Mohler’s book “Conviction to Lead”.
The first deals with credibility. Potential is one thing, but credibility is something different. There are a lot of guys with potential who I would not follow, because they haven’t done anything, they have no credibility yet. There are a lot of guys who have credibility in their specific area of work who I would not follow, because they have no credibility in the area where I work.
“When you enter the room, trust and confidence had better enter with you. If not, leadership is not happening. How could it? Leadership is about a sense of direction and purpose, and a competence that puts the room at ease. The leader is not a superman, but he had better know who he is, what he is doing, what the organization faces as a challenge, and how to move forward.
If someone else possesses those fundamental competencies, that person is the leader, not you. If no one in the room possesses those competencies, the organization faces imminent disaster. Organizations need these critical competencies, and cannot survive without them, and that is why organizations need leaders.
You know you are credible when the organization* senses its need and then looks for a leader, and this leads them to you.”
~Chapter 10, The Leader and Credibility, page 84
*my note: ‘organization’ refers to potential followers, not just a board of directors
The second excerpt talks about personality. What happens to an organization that is so centrally focused on the personality of the leaders, and then these leaders are taken out of the picture (either through retirement, death, or a moral failure, etc)?
“The personality factor can never be removed from the leadership equation…
…But faithful leaders understand that while they will influence the organization with their personality, they must never allow personality to be the defining mark of leadership.
There are two dangers here. The first is the well-known ‘cult of personality’, in which the persona of the leader becomes the hallmark of the organization. Personality cults take over the culture of the organization, with the leader sometimes becoming more prominent than the organization itself. The other danger is that the leader will rely on personality as a substitute for conviction or competence. Personality is important, but it will fall flat when conviction wanes or competence is lacking.”
~Chapter 13, The Leader and Power, page 108
I’m on a Douglas Wilson kick right now, which means I’m reading a bunch of his stuff in succession. I’m currently reading “Future Men”. Wilson has an unusual way of looking at things (e.g. he’s a post-millennialist), and his observations are unique. But I like that. His book on raising boys to men, “Future Men”, is different than any other fatherhood book I’ve read before. It’s very biblical. It does not depend on pop-culture or psychology. It’s a very deep and thorough look at raising young men.
Here is an article recently written by him…
There is no getting around it—little kids are cute. Some are cuter than others (depending, of course, on whether or not they are one’s own direct lineal descendants). The problem comes when we take this undeniable reality, and project it onto some of the statements Scripture gives us about the blessing of children. As a result, we wind up hanging on to a blessing, but perhaps the wrong one.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3–5).
Notice what the psalmist says here: Children are a heritage, a reward. But then the first metaphor is jarring, and perhaps not what we were expecting. Instead of saying that they are like a row of stuffed bunnies in a well-decorated crib, he says that children from the Lord are like a fistful of arrows. Children are arrows for the fist, and even more arrows for the quiver. For what occasion? Target practice? Costume parties?
In the ancient world, the city gates were not only where defenders of a city would face invaders, but they were also what we would call the public square. Blessed was the man who had sons who stand with him in a crucial showdown at the city council. They were shoulder to shoulder behind him, and not over on the other side. Neither were they all at home playing video games or out back smoking in the alley.
“A few decades ago, an entire generation of baby boomers walked away from traditional churches to escape the legalistic moralism of “being good,” but what their millennial children received in exchange, in an individualistic American Christian culture, was shamed-driven pressure to be awesome and extraordinary young adults expected to tangibly make a difference in the world immediately. But this cycle of reaction and counter-reaction, inaugurated by the baby boomers, does not seem to be producing faithful young adults. Instead, many are simply burning out.”
That’s a quote from an article I just read. It’s interesting.
Click here to read the full thing.