In light of all of the tragic and horrific events which have occurred in our country and abroad within the last six months, I would venture to say most Americans are at a loss. We do not know how to feel, what to say or what to think. A lot of Americans may be feeling a deep sense of fear, despair and confusion. The general populace has even expressed a level of frustration, disbelief and an immense concern for our country.
In another six months, a newly elected President will grace the White House. This upcoming election has catapulted a lot of Christians into a level of unprecedented prayer. Now is the time to commune and connect with the Master, our Lord and Savior. Now is the time to spend more time on bended knees, then on social media sites to share our political position or our disposition. This forthcoming leadership has been predestined before the foundations of the world and we are called to respect authority, no matter which candidate wins. Romans 13:1 (New Living Translation) states this quite well, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”
Organizations and businesses across cultural barriers and ethnic lines have seen a shift towards power leadership, defined by Trompenaars and Voerman (2009) as
Leadership [that] is all about the attainment, exercise and retention of power. The leader has only one goal: to ensure that people do what he or she wants. Ethics and morals do not come into the vocabulary or, at best, only as an afterthought. (p.13)[i]
Power can inspire in a positive way if utilized to improve the lives of individuals. However, within the last decade, this type of leadership has become more prevalent. A recent example of this is the reaction North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, had towards his athletes after the Rio Summer Olympic Games. Nath (2016) writes
The country set a target of 5 gold medals and 12 other medals. They came back with 2 gold medals, 3 silvers and 2 bronzes. Those he feels have let him down are likely to be punished by being moved to poorer quality housing, having their rations reduced and, in the worst-case scenario, being sent to the coal mines as punishment. (Nath, 2016, para.4)[ii]
Where is the gratitude and honor from leadership—associated with even being able to compete amongst the best in the world?
In contrast to power leadership is a term coined in the 1970s by Robert Greenleaf known as servant leadership. Servant leadership is to equip, inspire, and encourage those who we influence in order to make a profound positive difference in the world. The servant leader distinguishes themselves from other types of formal leadership styles by following the example in Philippians 2:3-4 (New International Version), “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”[iii] This scripture sets the tone of how a servant leader acts (in humility) and why a leader serves (with others in mind first). This is in stark contrast to the power leader. This type of leadership never goes out of style or is ever faddish. It was applicable in the 70s and it most certainly is necessary in the 21st century.
During the past year, following the many tragedies that have taken place in this country, I have many billboards with sayings such as:
“WeStandWithOrlando” “NeverDividedOnlyStronger” “WeWillGetThruThis”
In the midst of all of this turmoil, grief, frustration and sadness, there is one slogan for which we need to convey and it simply states, #Pray.
PRAYER TOOL: The Navigators (2006) provide a simple, but very effective approach to praying through use of a discipleship tool referred to as the prayer hand. “The PRAYER HAND is an easy way to remember five essential aspects of prayer: confession (1 Jn 1:9), petition (1 Sam 1:27), intercession (Eph 6:18-19), thanksgiving (Eph 5:20), and praise (Ps 146:1-2).”[iv]
[i] Trompenaars, F., & Voerman, E. (2009). Servant leadership across cultures: Harnessing the strength of the
world’s most powerful leadership philosophy. Oxford: Infinite Ideas.
[ii] Nath, J. A. (2016). Upset over not reaching Rio medal target, North Korea’s dictator threatens to send
athletes to coal mines. Retrieved from http://www.indiatimes.com
[iii] Greenleaf (1991/1970) provided three role models—servants as leaders—John Woolman, Thomas Jefferson, and Nikolai Frederik Severin Gruntvig—whom he “suggested as models to be studied closely (p. 26),” advising us to:
Study them not to copy the details of their methods but as examples of highly creative men, each of whom invented a role that was uniquely appropriate for himself as an individual that drew heavily on his strengths and demanded little that was unnatural for him, and that was very right for the time and place he happened to be. (p. 26)
Greenleaf, R. K. (1991/1970). The servant as leader. Indianapolis, IN: The Robert K. Greenleaf Center.
[iv] The Navigators. (20016, January 31). The prayer hand. Retrieved from
http://www.navigators.org/Tools/Discipleship%20Resources/Tools/The%20Prayer%20Hand (para. 1)