July 23, 2007-
The Example and Teaching of the Apostle Paul
A guiding principle from Paul that I see as undergirding my view
on leadership derives from 1 Corinthians 1:28: "God has chosen
the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are."
God does this in ways that take us in through the back door. He moves
circumstances and even heaven and earth to form the leaders He chooses
to use. True leaders cannot manipulate themselves into that role. In
Pauls life it took almost thirty years before he clearly became
a leader of leaders (Hoehner 1965, 381-2). It took time and suffering.
Pauls commission in Acts 9:15-16 says "I will show him how
much he must suffer for My names sake."
When defending his qualifications, Paul most consistently eschewed his
accomplishments in favor of his sufferings as a source of authority.
His catalogues of hardship (1 Cor 4:9-13; 2 Cor 6:3-5; 11:23-30) demonstrated
his authority and influence were not tied to position or office. His
favorite designation of himself was "fellow worker", an uniquely
Paul led by example. Secular writers recognize that leaders lead by
examples set forth in daily acts that demonstrate their vision (Kouzes
and Posner 2002, 43-108). In Gods economy, respect, power, and
influence are not based on education, accomplishments, or position,
but most often upon persevering in work that often has no earthly privilege
or accolades. Every time Paul told people to "imitate me",
it was in terms of suffering, humility, and hardship. Don Carson believes
that the "best Christian leadership cannot simply be appointed.
It is forged by God himself in the fires of suffering, taught in the
school of tears. There are no shortcuts" (Carson 1990, 90). Therefore,
I believe suffering is not to be sought after, but is also not to be
avoided out of fear. Fear is the opposite of faith, and a holy boldness
is required of godly leadership.
The notion of calling pervades Pauls writings, and a sense of
calling has led me to pursue Leadership studies. Richard J. Leider emphasizes
the role of "calling" in the life of a servant leader (Hesselbein
and Goldsmith 2006, 289-295), but his notion of calling is self-generated
and thus sub-biblical. Others make a similar point (Kouzes and Posner
2002, 112). Os Guinness has influenced my thinking on vocation both
by his writings and his teaching ministry.
Oswald Sanders has many good things to say about leadership, but he
lacks a coherent theology of failure, always demanding strength and
ones personal utmost, which leaves little room for leaders who
exhibit power which is perfected in weakness. Rather he points to the
Spirit as the one who "lifts" ones natural abilities
if one is "Spirit filled" (Sanders 1967, 82-83). All the while,
the author does this against a backdrop of defining spiritual leadership
in terms of servanthood, selflessness, and spiritual formation, leaving
a conflicted and daunting picture of what a biblical leader is. His
take on the role of failure is lacking.
The Extraordinary Leader incorporates a very helpful chapter (Zenger
and Folkman 2002, 157-175) on learning from ones mistakes, though
it falls short of biblical repentance and transformation. The authors
show the way to turning failure and flaws into learning experiences
that strengthen the leaders competencies.
Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, further ascertains the
qualifications of leadership in 2 Timothy 2 by referencing the leadership
metaphors of a teacher (2:2) who is also a diligent student and faithful
equipper of others; a soldier (2:3-4) who is aligned with Gods
plans, willing to accept hardship and hopeful to gain Christs
approval; an athlete (2:5) who is self-disciplined and who is motivated
by the hope of future reward; a farmer (2:6) who toils diligently and
yet nurtures his own spirit; a workman (2:15) who is accountable to
God and who seeks Gods approval on his work, and accordingly handles
Gods Word carefully; a vessel (2:21) who purifies himself from
error and contamination; and a slave (2:24-25a) who is in submission
to the Masters will and who displays a compelling disposition
and conduct. This composite view may not be exhaustive, but it is indeed
compelling in regard to leadership qualities required for effective
service (Hiebert 1976, 213-229).
Kotter (Kotter 1996, 182-183) points to lifelong learning and the importance
of establishing a sense of urgency and the communication of change vision
as crucial attributes of a leader. The ongoing, progressive nature of
the illustrations in the 2 Timothy passage are in alignment with this.
Kotters eight stage process could be said to mirror the approach
of the early missionary journeys in critical ways. As an aside, Kotter
also offers one of the most helpful differentiations between management
and leadership this writer has read to date.
Collins has helpful guidance in pointing to the focus focused consistency
of great companies on excellence in non-reactionary terms in his "Hedgehog
Concept", and building greatness over time in his concept of the
"Flywheel and the Doom Loop" (Collins 2001, 110-119, 165-170).
Excellence takes time. Focusing on one thing and doing it well allows
passion, talent, and effectiveness both feed and benefit from the process.
The key attributes one observes in the Apostle Pauls model of
leadership are humility and will. These are the same qualities that
characterize Jim Collins "Level 5 Leader" (Collins 2001,
35-38). Unfortunately, Collins associates this with fanatical drivenness
(Collins 2001, 39). Gangel paints a realistic portrait of the tenacity
of will, teachableness, and humility Paul evidenced (Gangel 1997, 83-85).
Potter Spoilers ahead!
||I have to say I was not disappointed with the
conclusion of the Potter series. It is always a bit gratifying to
see that you have figured out major issues the books have presented
as subjects of debate...
almost figured out Snape, expecting Rowling to have a redemptive version
of Judas up her sleeve in this character. I had not foreseen the Dumbledore
of clay feet depicted in the final book. I fully expected the Christological
parallels in Harry, as they have been alluded to from the start. Note
that I said parallels; Rowling is too good a writer not to create complex
points of departure where the symbolism fails if you push it too far.
Among the overt examoples that are difficult to deny are when Harry walks alone as a lamb to the slaughter, gives himself sacrificially to save his friends, comes to the King's Cross where he has a choice of going on to his eternal destiny immediately or returning to the world to finish his off the evil enemy.
An excellent site to direct readers to a deeper literary reading of the books resides at:
Voldemort invests his soul in six "objects" deliberately
and one by accident: this forms a sevenfold deadly sin counterpoint
the the threefold hallows.
The hallows- or holy objects are a wooden wand (a rod or rood), a resurrection stone, and an invisibility cloak ( a covering that protects. Christian symbolism is obviously present, but exhaustive identification with the biblical models are not evident.
The elder wand heals Harry's broken wand that contained
the phoenix feather, itself a symbol of resurrection. The hero becomes
sin by taking on pat of the evil one's soul which is put to death by
the hero's "death".
Much more to come, after time for discussion...