DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Creating Owners

Written by: on April 23, 2015

It’s refreshing to read a leadership book where the author doesn’t claim to know it all. I appreciated DePree starting off with, “Leadership is an art, something to be learned over time, not simply by reading books. Leadership is more tribal than scientific, more a weaving of relationships than an amassing of information, and, in that sense, I don’t know how to pin it down in every detail[1].” I’m writing my essay this semester on leadership and I wish I had read Max DePree’s Leadership Is An Art at the beginning of the semester.

Much of current leadership theory focuses on the question of “what do we do to accomplish the outcome we desire?” For the most part, in the American context, this results in measuring sales, acquisition, and stock prices. Thus, the definition of leadership has often become linked to measurable growth. When researchers integrate such definitions into a Christian theology of leadership, it is quite possible that financial growth, numeric growth, or a combination of both become indicators of success[2]. The definition of leadership might never ask significant questions about the people you are working with, questions like whether spiritual growth or growing closer to Jesus has been accomplished.

I recently read a blog from Paul Young and he said, “When you’re involved with another person, you’ve involved with a mystery. We are eternal people with eternally untapped mysteries. That’s because God has a high view of humanity, not a low one.[3]” It is this view that I believe Max DePree captured well. DePree is helping redefine leadership and has a high view of humanity. DePree believes leadership starts with ones view of people, “In our effort to understand the capitalist system and its future, what should we keep in mind? We should begin with a concept of persons.[4]

DePree does well to explain how a leader isn’t just focused on measurements but instead sees others giftings and helps others reach their full potential. I believe this is what we see happening in the Scriptures between our Heavenly Father and biblical leaders. Through reading the Scripture we see biblical leaders engage their particular context according to the gifting that God had provided them and based on a partnership with what God was accomplishing[5]. In other words, it’s not about a specific set of “leadership traits,” the leaders of Scripture seem rather content to be “themselves” and make themselves available for God to work through them to accomplish His will. So, any approach to leadership that seeks to identify or build upon a specific list of traits will probably fall short, not because of a wrong combination of traits, but an insufficient listing of traits. Any such listing of traits would combine traits from different leaders in various situations and such a combined list would simply be impossible for any one person to obtain[6].

What is often fascinating and encouraging to me in Scripture is that God is quite willing to work with the traits available within imperfect individuals and this partnership with God creates a sense of ownership for the individual. This thought echoes DePree when he says, “The capitalist system cannot avoid being better off by having more employees who act as if they own the place[7].” No doubt the Church needs more owners and I agree with Depree that this seems like, “more a weaving of relationships than an amassing of information, and, in that sense, I don’t know how to pin it down in every detail[8].”


 

[1] Max De Pree, Leadership Is an Art (New York: Crown Business, 2004), 3.

[2] Thomas Edward Frank, “Leadership and Administration: An Emerging Field in Practical Theology,”International Journal of Practical Theology 10, no. 1 (July 2006): 118.

[3] Paul Young, “The Key to Loving People Well,”, accessed April 23, 2015, http://wmpaulyoung.com/the-key-to-loving-people-well/.

[4] Max De Pree, Leadership Is an Art (New York: Crown Business, 2004), 63.

[5] James Bartz, “Leadership from the Inside Out,” The Anglican Theological Review 91, no. 1 (Winter 2009): 3.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Max De Pree, Leadership Is an Art (New York: Crown Business, 2004), 100.

[8] Max De Pree, Leadership Is an Art (New York: Crown Business, 2004), 3.

 

About the Author

mm

Nick Martineau

Nick is a pastor at Hope Community Church in Andover, KS, founder of ILoveOrphans.com, and part of the LGP5 cohort.

10 responses to “Creating Owners”

  1. mm Travis Biglow says:

    Hey Nick,

    That is so important to understand the different giftings and abilities that others have. God gives us certain gifts. It was a time I was kind of shy about my gift because people can say negative things while growing up about your gifts. It was not until i went to college that I began to be more confident about my gift. I think as pastors we should really try to understand people of our church and pray that God will help us to empower people and their gifts to be effective servants in the church. I am studying a great deal on collaborative and relational ministry and its important that leaders know how to work with the gifted people around them. Not just for our cause but on behalf of theirs too. Blessings Nick

    • mm Nick Martineau says:

      Travis, Looking forward to reading your collaborative and relational ministry essay. That’s important stuff. Knowing our own giftings and then being able to identify others giftings is a key of leadership.

  2. mm Jon Spellman says:

    Nick, I was encouraged by DePree’s high view of humanity too. It makes me happy to be leader again. It has been refreshing after this semester’s readings that have tended toward cynicism, to read a hopeful, optimistic book to wrap things up!

    Thanks!
    Jon

    • mm Nick Martineau says:

      Totally agree Jon…I appreciated ended the semester with this book. A reminder that it’s about people.

  3. mm Brian Yost says:

    “So, any approach to leadership that seeks to identify or build upon a specific list of traits will probably fall short, not because of a wrong combination of traits, but an insufficient listing of traits. Any such listing of traits would combine traits from different leaders in various situations and such a combined list would simply be impossible for any one person to obtain.”
    Nick, this quote should be at the top of every pastoral job description.
    A quick search for job openings in pastoral ministry reveals that most people look for the person who fills the most slots on the “what we want” chart. De Pree’s vision of leadership is a much healthier approach.

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Brian,

      So true – your words made me smile! Too many times, organizations don’t have any idea what they need in a leaders. So, they write these awful, lengthy job descriptions asking people to do so many different skills that even superman couldn’t accomplish! Someone who does have the leadership skills that they need will likely read the posting and ascertain very quickly if the organization knows what they are doing!

  4. mm Dave Young says:

    Nick, People are hard, let’s just focus on getting results!! Just kidding. But you know the church would be a lot easier if it wasn’t for the people… you might have heard that previously.

    I’d like to think I have a high view of humanity but you know God gave me an introverted personality, and engaging people is always a challenge for me. But hey, it’s also my passion. To know people less superficially and more heart-to-heart. Well, I’ll get off of how messed up I am and say – Nick ‘great post’ and I really enjoyed De Pree’s insights too.

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Dave,

      You are right – many people are too focused on results! But, I think the pendulum in a lot of churches has swung way, way too far the other direction. We tend to turn our backs on wasteful spending and inefficient leadership to avoid offense, or we keep people in roles because they are a strong Christian or are a charismatic preacher. The ‘good ole boys’ network has hurt more churches than too much focus on results. If we would allow leaders to develop and thrive in the gifts God has granted, then the church would be a much different place. We need introverts and extroverts, people who can preach and those who are better in 1-1 environments. Organizations need to quit promoting mainly those who fit the model and have friends in high places. While there are some Christian organizations that don’t do this – I’ve seen too many that do!

  5. mm Mary Pandiani says:

    I love Paul Young’s quote – when we interact with another we enter into a mystery. To bring this into a leadership concept reflects some great synthesis of thought, Nick. I love it. The mystic and scholar all in one 🙂 Just like bringing art and leadership together.

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