It’s been 21 years, but I’m finally graduating!!
It’s been 21 years, but I’m finally graduating!!
Patch Adams is a great example of leadership. He is determined to chase the dream/vision of helping people. When he fixed a cup and was called “Patch,” he realized he could help people. This identity gave him the confidence to chase after this vision and propelled him into all kinds of circumstances. He thought outside the box that medical school gave him and challenged everything he was taught in regards to professional distance. He learned to look beyond a problem to it’s solution from a man in a mental hospital and imagined a new kind of hospital by playing with a napkin dispenser and ketchup bottle. Vision and new ideas just flowed out of him because he was always on the lookout for them. These things were more than just ideas though – or as Andy Stanley would put it – they were more than dreams that “could” be, they were visions that “should” be. And Patch was the kind of guy who really worked to make them happen. He was also good at relationships – people wanted to be around him – They could get behind his vision for helping people because they trusted him so much.
Patch is a leader. He was a man of character and skills, who was good at relationships and had a vision that they could get behind.
In his book Visioneering, Andy Stanley makes a clear distinction between these two.
“Dreamers dream about the world being different, but visionaries envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done. Visionaries look for an opportunity to do something.”
I wanna be a visionary. He goes on to describe the situations which led to his church plant. It seemed like the furthest thing from happening, but he prepared himself anyway, and did what he could so that when the opportunity arose, he’d be ready. He also points out that Nehemiah did the same, when the circumstances didn’t allow him to move on his vision, he prayed. He did all he could when he could do it and prayed for opportunities to come.
If I wanna be a visionary, and God really is calling me to a church plant, maybe I should be working on drawing up a vision statements, outlines for a church structure/government, bylaws, and requirements/benefits of church membership. That way, when God gives me an opportunity, I’ll be ready. I’m sure I won’t be able to get it right, but at least there’ll be something to work with – some place to start. Maybe this is kinda like the old statement about faith – “If you pray for rain, you better leave the house with an umbrella.”
I’ve decided. I’m going to start working on these things and studying how others have done it.
I started back to class last night and had a great experience once again. This class is going to focus on Relationships and Vision in Leadership – the horizontal parts of the leadership compass. I’m excited about it ’cause these are the areas I’ve stressed over my years in ministry. It’s hard to lead people anywhere if you don’t have some sort of relationship with them. It’s also hard to lead them, if you don’t have some dream about how things should be. I’ve always seen myself as an adventurer and really enjoy experiencing new things (except when it comes to food). Anyway, because of this, vision is fun for me.
We’re supposed to do a group movie project and I got voted to be the leader. When everyone was deciding which part of the leadership compass (Character, Skills, Relationships, Vision) they wanted to work with, I got the leftovers. I guess that’s how a leader should do it, but the good news is that the leftover point was “vision.” It’s the one I would have chosen anyway. God is good! We’re going to analyze Patch Adams’ through this leadership model.
Overcoming the Dark
Side of Leadership”
By Steve Corn
This book should be read by any and every leader. It deals with a part of leadership which is very rarely discussed and in some cases ignored altogether. Although they never use the metaphor, the “dark side” which they discuss is an ever-present reality which influences every decision we make and everyone around us – similar to the dark side we’ve come to know from the Star Wars films. They describe it like the dark side of the moon, it is a part of our very essence and helps to make us who we are. This dark side is defined by our
natural tendencies to fill the voids left by our weaknesses and deep hurts from past experiences. The dark side is how we’ve learned to cope with life. Unfortunately, these habits (healthy or not) continue to be lived out after we become Christians and begin leading others. Throughout history many leaders have been overtaken and many great ministries/organizations have been ruined from the influence of this dark side. Gone unchecked, we risk much in our lives by ignoring its’ existence and influence. This book provides the reader with the tools necessary to understand, recognize, and redeem his/her own dark side. The church would benefit greatly if church leaders were aware of this reality and guided others in cautiously heeding its’ warnings.
Understanding Our Dark Side
The first section of the book is mostly an extended definition of what this dark side truly is. The authors are very meticulous about sharing both their own personal interactions with this presence in their lives and those of other famous leaders throughout history. They describe those who have dealt properly with the dark side like Bill Hybels and the Apostle Paul and those who have been overtaken by it like Jim Bakker and King Saul. All of these stories combine to paint a picture of the many varied forms this dark side can take on in one’s life. They describe how pressures can build within a leader and eventually our dark side emerges with an explosion of emotion or frustration. “At times the dark side seems to leap on us unexpectedly. In reality it has slowly crept up on us. The development of our dark side has been a lifetime in the making.” (pg. 22) They also attempt to break down the dark side into its building blocks so the reader can more readily recognize it while it’s being built. The building blocks they mention are pride, selfishness, self-deception and wrong motives. (pg 40-45) In addition they describe many of the signs of the shadow side as: (1) an inexplicable drive to make a significant mark with our lives (2) a profound need to be approved (3) an irrational fear that our work is inadequate (4) a need to feel in absolute control (5) perfectionism (6) many other behaviors such as overeating, compulsive spending, alcoholism, compulsive exercising, etc. (pg 50-51) In describing the development of our dark side, the authors refer to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or as it is sometimes called the “needs pyramid.” This pyramid builds from physiological needs, to safety needs, then love needs, esteem needs, and finally self-actualization. Maslow’s theory is that people must have their needs met at one level before they can get their “higher” needs met. The authors of this book suggest that sometimes we get those needs met in unhealthy ways, and this becomes the seed for a growing dark side which has learned to satisfy itself in ways that God never intended. As one grows older these behaviors become habits and will eventually explode into a full-blown dark side.
Discovering Our Dark Side
The second section of the book describes five different types of dark side leaders. It details their characteristics and then offers a self-test to the reader to determine his/her potential for falling into this category.
The compulsive leader is symbolized by Moses who felt the need to control every aspect of the Israelites movement out of Egypt – even to the point of being a judge over every matter between the people (numbering millions). These leaders tend to think they are the only ones who can do the job correctly and therefore have a hard time delegating. They also develop highly structured systems which must be followed in the minutia. Many times, this makes them workaholics. In an effort to maintain control, they will repress anger and emotions which can erupt in sudden violent outbursts and then be quickly controlled again. They also have a tendency to be very critical and enjoy the freedom the church gives them in seeking “excellence” in ministry.
The narcissistic leader is more like Solomon. Scripture is clear that he thought the world revolved around him – he did many things “for myself.” They use other people to advance their own agenda and find it difficult to recognize the efforts of others – often times taking the credit themselves. Deep feelings of inadequacy and inferiority motivate them to work/minister for the approval and admiration of others rather than for God.
Saul is a great example of the paranoid leader. He was hypersensitive to the actions and reactions of the people, always fearful of potential rebellion. These leaders are intensely jealous of other gifted people because they are so insecure in themselves. They overreact to criticism and tend to believe there are ulterior motives into the most innocent of actions. They love to keep their hands on every area of the organization and therefore require lots of meetings and reports. They also keep a “safe distance” when it comes to relationships because close relationships require a transparency which they fear will potentially undermine their leadership.
The codependent leader is represented by Samson. He continually involved himself in self-destructive behaviors. These leaders are masters of denial – even to the point of believing the denial to be truth. They have a serious need to please others and don’t want to disappoint anyone. They repress their emotions and feel stressed as a result. They also don’t initiate action to confront misbehaviors because they have learned to live with them, but instead will sometimes even take personal responsibility/blame for others actions. Codependent leaders often appear to be extremely loving peacemakers, but this can go too far and enable unhealthy or unbiblical behaviors.
Jonah is a passive-aggressive leader. They don’t confront, but instead act out their disapproval by procrastinating, forgetting, or just not putting their whole heart into a project. They are complainers who would rather do nothing than attempt something with the possibility of failure – or worse yet, maybe they’ll succeed and then be held to a higher standard. These leaders are not very enthusiastic and can be irritable or impatient and often can explode when their status quo is threatened.
Redeeming Our Dark Side
This third section of the book points the reader to a few specific exercises to help him in living with his dark side and even allowing it to be a positive force in his life. These steps are (1) Acknowledging our dark side (2) Examining the past (3) Resist the poison of expectations (4) Practice progressive self-knowledge and (5) Understand your identity in Christ.
Step one (acknowledging our dark side) consists of nothing more than realizing and agreeing that you are no different from the rest of the people in the world. You have a dark side too.
Step two (Examining the past) is described as a “simple process of remembering.” (pg 163) It entails remembering everything from major issues like a death in the family to minor inferiority issues arising from a nickname you were given as a child. The authors paint the picture of our intentional journey into the past saying “We must become the hammer that begins to shape our errant emotions and dark side rather than the anvil on which our dark side pounds us into a distorted image.” (pg 164)
Step 3 (Resist the poison of expectations) requires our attention to the expectations placed upon us. We should choose which ones we will own and which ones are not a reflection of our calling. If we live our lives under everyone else’s expectations, we will soon be living someone else’s life.
Step 4 (Practice progressive self-knowledge) is about spiritual disciplines involving Bible reading, personal retreats, devotional reading, journaling, and other tools for self-awareness like personality tests, counseling, accountability groups, and performance evaluations. It’s about being open to hear from others (including God) regarding your weaknesses and
Step 5 (Understand your identity in Christ) requires an understanding that our position in Christ is not dependent on our performance, position, titles, achievements, or power. Our condition on earth is a polar opposite to our position in Christ, and our worth is based upon Him alone.
Unlike any other leadership book I’ve read, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership takes an honest and comprehensive look at the part of leadership that no one really likes to discuss. Most books give some insightful ideas about leading and talk about how to influence others, but ignore the reality of all the fallen leaders we’ve seen throughout history. Overcoming confronts this issue head on and allows the reader to be proactive in recognizing his own dark side so as to keep him from falling into these pitfalls. The historical and biblical stories included give the book an authentic feel so as to illustrate the concepts accurately. As I grow in my leadership roles, I intend to make this book an integral part of my life and also for training others for leadership positions. These ideas will help me to remain honest about my own spiritual dark side and hopefully, I’ll respond by being intentional in redeeming it by using some of the steps and concepts this book teaches.
There are quite a few images that Scripture uses to speak of the church. Each of them conveys a different message as to what the church should be like. Here are some of the main ones:
Eph 1:22; Col 1:18, 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:12; 1 Cor 10:16-17
The church is describes as a body in order to communicate a few things.
(1) Jesus is the head of the body and should be in control of it all.
(2) The idea of working together without distinctions. (In their culture with Jew and Gentile distinctions, it was important to realize that the church should be different.)
(3) The body image also communicates that it should grow and be nourished by Christ as He brings leaders into the fellowship.
(4) The unity/oneness of the body with each part needing the other.
Eph 5:2, 23, 25, Jn 14:1-3; 1 Thes 4:16-17; Rev 19:7-9
The bride image points to the great love that Jesus has for the church. It also shows the value of the church and speaks of the promised blessings which she shall receive. As the espouse bride, the church should be waiting in expectation for Jesus’ return when He comes to take her as His wife as they celebrate the wedding feast together.
Eph 2:20; 4:12-13; 1 Pet 2:5
This image stresses the unity of the church (Jews and Gentiles alike) which is built upon the “foundation of the apostles and prophets.” The apostles are called the foundation and Jesus is the cornerstone. In Christ the whole building is being “fitted together” which shows Jesus as the constructor of the church. The church also grows as new believers are added to the building.
1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6
All believers are considered priests who represent God to humanity and offer spiritual sacrifices to Him. The church believers are actually called both kings and priests (royal priesthood). The have direct access to God through Jesus Christ.
Jn 10:16, 26-27; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:3
This one depicts the church as a flock of sheep under Jesus’ care. They belong to Him and they know His voice. It speaks of intimacy and of His protection. The church is secure under Jesus.
This image describes the close relationship that the church has with Jesus. They are tied to Him directly and receive nourishment/life from Him. They will be fruitful if they stay connected to Him. It also helps to explain some of the “pruning” times in our lives when God is cutting things away so that we can be more fruitful.
How does this make a difference in my life? Each of these images speaks to me in a different way, and in different times of my life, I need to remember each one. As I have said before, I also hope to be a part of a church plant one day, and these images will be foundational for figuring out how the church should be structured and how it should relate to Jesus.
(Info from “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns, pg 349-351)
Chronicles of Narnia – Whoa! I just saw it movie yesterday! It was great! I’m not really into the whole fantasy genre (Lord of the what???? Well done, but just not my thing.) But this was not a typical movie. I loved all the imagery and Christian metaphors.
Lucy (disciple) stumbles through a wardrobe (salvation) to discover Narnia (spiritual world) – the land which always existed, but she had never seen.
Lucy (disciple) tells others about Narnia (spiritual world) and they don’t believe her.
Lucy’s brothers and sister only believe when they have experienced it for themselves.
Everyone tells them about Aslan with a sense of expectation and reverence.
Aslan (God) was both someone to be feared and someone to find friendship in.
The White Witch (Satan) was strong, but even she feared Aslan.
The everlasting snow curse (sin) began to melt as soon as Aslan showed up.
Edmund (Judas) betrayed his brother and sisters.
Turkish Delight (temporary satisfaction) began Edmund’s doubt about Aslan.(God)
The promise to rule Narnia is Edmund’s motivation for betrayal. (Ours is the promise to rule our own lives.)
People who have been snared by the white witch (Satan) are turned to stone. (Those who have fallen to Satan have hearts which are turned to stone.)
Aslan (God) can breathe on them and they come back to life. (We are given new hearts by God.)
Aslan (God) sacrifices his own life for the sins of his followers to satisfy the “deep magic.” (Old Testament Law requiring death for sin.)
Aslan (God) dies on the stone table (cross). When he is resurrected, there is an earthquake and the stone is broken. (The stone in front of Jesus’ tomb is moved.)
Susan and Lucy (women) were the first to see the risen Aslan.
Aslan (God) crushes the White Witch (Satan) in the final battle.
These are just a few of the things I noticed. Check it out yourself if you haven’t seen it already.