Scott Galloway, author of The Four, offers his lessons for navigating the new reality we are all living in with Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google. I am better informed and can be a more conscientious consumer with this peek behind the curtain. I thought of Newport’s reference many times – that these kinds of innovators are not hipster geeks in flip flops but the new tobacco farmers pushing what is addicting. They know exactly what they are doing.
The numbers around the four are staggering – from engagement numbers to market share to revenue growth to profits per employee. These four horsemen are changing our world. These numbers, this crushing of the competition, the innovations of the four presented in this book is interesting at best and debilitating at worst. Galloway’s comment on the low, efficient number of workers the four employs struck me:
“This uber-productivity creates growth, but not necessarily prosperity.”
He goes on to present astounding figures of how the richest are getting richer but that there a fewer of them. It makes one wonder where hyper-efficiency and uber-productivity will lead. What is the end of this worship, this obsession? Could it amass more wealth for the already wealthy but the average person’s life not be meaningfully enriched? In the business world of these four, it seems the “have nots” do not benefit.
While I grapple with the gifts and dangers these four companies (conglomerates?) present, I wonder what the implications are for charismatic church leaders. Our emphasis on scale, multiplication, growth strategies, and the like, in large church settings has me wondering where and how well we attend to the small, to the individual, to the one.
I can get overwhelmed with how much there is to do in this broken world. And Andy Stanley’s mantra is helpful in dealing with the crushing amount of human need: Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. This brings me back to action from the cliff of overwhelm.
The Church is the largest volunteer force on the planet. If even a fraction of the estimated 2.42 billion Christians are on the greatest mission known to man, it is staggering. This demands that leaders pay close attention to how we handle this “resource”. Our development needs to be more human – where we don’t herd people through an on-boarding process without someone listening to their story. We do not assume that because they finished a discipleship study that we have “discipled” them and now they only lead.
I keep thinking about it this way – spiritual leaders do shepherd others and should but they are also sheep themselves. How and when and where do we allow leaders to be humans and cared for by the Great Shepherd? Maybe you do not appreciate being called a sheep so I will say it another way. Before any of us led anything or were capable or promoted or essential, we were a child of God. And we will always be this to God, even if we lead hundreds on His behalf. We need to attend to that truth ourselves and invite those we lead to do the same.
People can get high-tech everywhere but where can people still get high-touch? Not easy but it is critical for us to leverage technology while serving the individual personally. When Christian organizations experience growth, may all humans connected to it flourish.
 Cal Newport. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2019), 9.
 Scott Galloway, The Four: the Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (NY, NY: Portfolio/Penguin, 2018), 266.