Sunday, March 05, 2006

Good Leadership: Principled

In this series, I'm looking at what qualities make a good leader. I'm approaching this from a masculine standpoint, from a Christian standpoint, and with the knowledge that my thoughts are not authoritative. I intend them to be helpful and to germinate thought, but I make no claim that these are the essential characteristics of good leadership. With that said, we commence our look at what makes a good leader.

The world seems often to choose its leaders based on a criteria of flash and show, not character and principle. Think back to your childhood, if you went to public school and participated in town or city sports. Who were the leaders in your social circles? I'm guessing that in some instances, people led the class, team, or group who actually were morally qualified for such a position. They were competent, persuasive, and principled. However, I would also guess that a majority of the time, or perhaps a great deal of the time, the pretty, handsome, charming, smart, personable person was chosen. Some of those qualities can lend themselves to good leadership, but they were treated, far too often, as the prerequisites for leadership. This they cannot be. They have no claim to such office. They have no raw material to them that ensures that they can lead people well. Perhaps this is why so many of our childhood experiences were frustrating, why so many kids quit sports, why so many kids never try things, and so on. Kids learn pretty early in life that the qualities that lend themselves to popularity also lend themselves to leadership. It's a sad lesson, but it is true nonetheless. Inequality and a certain foolishness are written into our moral and social fabric.

Over against this view comes the Christian perspective. It departs radically from the world's view of qualifications, and instead centers in principle, in character and ethical belief. It starts from the standpoint that man's worth roots in his bearing of the image of God, not his jawline, eye color, or ability to tell a joke. Christians see that the leading of men to something greater, something higher, centers not in how you look but in how you live. In this way, we rebel against the world system, based in inequality and foolishness, the fading and airy things of the world, and work against it by bringing kingdom values to bear on our world. Where the world seeks a pretty face, we seek a man who loves God, His word, and His people, and whose love of these things has transformed his life. Where the world seeks a man who is popular, and who lives with a certain arrogance, we seek a man who cares first for others. Where the world seeks a man who will stay popular, and thereby draw a crowd, we seek a man who will cling to the truth of his beliefs with tenacity. He is principled, has staked his life on his beliefs, and so will not yield to the winds of popular opinion. We do not want the prettiest face to lead us. We do not want the best personality to guide us. We want the man who lives wisest, kindest, and best to instruct us. In pursuing such leadership, we are embodying the wisdom passed to us by Christ. He chose men based on their character. It is a long and difficult walk on the narrow path. It is character, not cosmetics, that will lead us to our home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make a good case for how Christian leadership should look (sometimes literally) different than the culture's perception. After all, our ultimate Leader is Christ himself. We need to look to Scripture, not People Magazine, to understand what it means to be a true leader. Very thought-provoking and well-written.
PS~ I noted the change on your profile. I have heard you talk about Maine before (and think it sounds beautiful) but was unaware that you are in pursuit of a young lady? It sounds as though you like her a lot.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

leadership generally, and Christian leadership especially, needs to be humble - admitting mistakes or suboptimal choices. however, the leader must also remain firm when the decision has been made, and should not be altered. the Christian leader should be willing to resist the pressure to yield to unwise counsel, even if his original decision was itself unwise.

7:57 PM  

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