I recently read a short story about leadership that intrigued me. It was thought-provoking and powerful in many ways because it helps put our role as ‘leaders’ into perspective.
Judas Iscariot had…
The best pastor
The best leader
The best advisor
The best counselor
The problem is often not the leadership or the church someone goes to. It is within them ~ the follower. If one’s heart doesn’t transform and their attitude or character doesn’t change, they will always be the same – even if they serve under the best leader ever!
I found Collin’s analysis of what does not make a good company become great to be more fascinating than looking at what does make a good company become great. Compensation, strategy, motivation and/or name recognition did not create “greatness.” The author noted that greatness was found to be not a function of circumstances, but instead largely a matter of conscious choice. I think a “God-touch” also helps!
Leadership holds a different meaning for me today than it did a number of years ago as I was serving as Director of the American Red Cross and the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission over a 20-year span. Back then, leader to me meant “expert of everything, designer and implementer of ALL projects, powerful fund development director, and highly recognized face in the community.” I felt that I had to be it all! My internal vision put so much pressure and expectation upon myself. I thought I needed to know it all and make it all happen, because the “ball stops here” and I needed that ball to keep rolling – which I thought was my responsibility. At the time, it was my Type A personality that led me; not my faith in a loving Father who was there to guide me down this roadway called “life.”
Being a leader has a new meaning to me as I’ve moved away from the “needing to get ahead” phase of my life and settled into my “journey with Christ” leadership role. As a Chaplain, I don’t see myself as a leader, but instead as a humbled servant. But I believe there is influence in that as well. In Leadership Theory, Northouse describes leadership as “a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”. I love the author’s use of the word “process” versus more common terms of leadership (as defined in Oxford Dictionary as “boss, supervisor, and/or commander.”) Because leadership is not one person, but truly a process towards a means – it takes working together with others for the goal to be reached.
I have not viewed myself so much as a leader over the past few years – as I have moved from a highly visible community presence position into the role of a humbled servant as a Chaplain. Yet, I’ve never felt more fulfilled and I am in awe as I see my patients learning and emulating the gifts I bring to them through the Word. There is no competition, no having to prove myself, no façade. I am just serving others to help them find peace and contentment at the end of their life. Missing from this picture are the administrative duties, the company politics, and the weight that leadership generally brings with it.
As a servant leader, I love that it is not about my agenda, but about theirs! There is no “me” in Chaplaincy; it is all about THEM! My role is to hear my patient’s heart and to help them find peace on their final journey on earth. Leading them to eternal life is my leadership goal, but sometimes a hardened heart can block that opportunity. Just like it was with Judas ~ the final choice is theirs! And even with leaders utilizing best leadership practices, followers still make choices that cause them to fail.
 Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), 11.
 Peter Northouse, Leadership Theory and Practice (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2015), 44.