This article below appeared in the NWA Times on Saturday, February 23rd, 2013. They have invited me on to their team as a columnist every 6-8 weeks.
LEANING ON LEADERSHIP
To Lead or To Mislead, That Is The Question.
We were lost! I had once again led us in the wrong direction. Sigh! I must have been absent the day God handed out sense of direction. It was our first Valentine’s Day in Lima, Peru, our new ministry assignment. We had plans of walking to a famous local restaurant, but in a city of nine million, we were like two grains of rice in a Peruvian food market. Lost.
“Like sheep without a shepherd.” During His ministry, this was Jesus’ compassionate description of those who had no sense of spiritual direction. Let me be clear about one thought. The people He describes in Matthew chapter 9 were not dealing with the absence of leadership. They were dealing with the absence of authentic leadership. A shepherd took great care to know his sheep. He also knew where he was leading them. The people of Jesus day were being misled. Men without a sense of direction were in charge. Jesus called it, “the blind leading the blind.” I can’t think of anything scarier than leaders who aren’t lovers and learners.
Being misled is easy when no one knows which way is North. Unfortunately, this is the perilous playing field for aspiring leaders in our season of history. What is the answer? In a culture that seems to be upside down, we must pursue an internal compass that directs us and helps us identify authentic success, blessing, and truth. As the saying goes, “things are not always what they seem.” Leadership is not the same thing as good leadership. Just ask the Holocaust survivors. Aspiring leaders must be lovers and learners first.
For example, where did we get the idea that bigger always means blessed? It is a symptom of mis-leadership. Maybe our cultural obsession with productivity and progress has baited our hearts with a half-truth. In some ways bigger can indicate great blessing. However, if “bigger” becomes our pursuit, we have been misled and will eventually begin misleading.
From my perspective, we can sum up our post-modern culture with one word, “misled.” In light of my Valentine’s Day fiasco, I fully understand how easy it is to mis-lead those we love. It wasn’t intentional, it was just ignorance. When leaders lack learning and love, mis-leadership enters the picture.
For the record, I am not aiming at presidents or government leaders who receive their fair share of bullets from columns such as these. More importantly, I am taking aim at those like myself; fathers, business-owners, pastors, medical professionals and educators. I believe that big change comes from small communities, and it is these communities who must discern misled ideals like the “bigger means blessed” mindset. Belief leads to action and action lead to movement. Isn’t it time for a movement of authentic leaders who are lovers and learners?
Most of us will lead someone. To lead or mislead, that is the question.