Worship Leading

GuitareditI have served as the worship leader for our contemporary service for the past 3 years and did it in my previous church for about 8 years. Anyway, they just officially hired someone for that position to start this coming week. I must admit that I’m excited! It’s been way too long since I was able to sit in church with my wife. I can hardly remember the last time we were able to worship together in a contemporary service.

Some people are concerned that I’ll miss it, but I really don’t see that as a possibility. It’s just music. I truly believe the best worship leaders are “lead worshippers.” They are worshippers first and secondly they are leaders. Over the years, I have discovered that this amazing contemporary music movement which has so dramatically changed the church, is not really the way that I connect with God. When the whole movement began, I loved it. I could lose myself in the songs and truly be connected to God, but now I seem to connect to Him in much more private ways when I’m studying alone or listening to sermons in my car. Anyway, I think I’ve become more of a worship leader over the years and less of a lead worshipper. I’m glad to hand the baton over to someone who truly feels called to this ministry.

Play

Everyone seems to agree there are fewer true leaders in the world today than in any other previous generation. I wonder why? Here’s my BIG thought: I wonder if the lack of leadership is somehow connected to the lack of “play” in the world? Let me explain.

It’s has always been a pet-peeve of mine that kids today don’t know how to play. They are good at wasting time with TV or video games, but “play” is a whole different thing. You’ve gotta be creative to play. You have to use your imagination to play. (By the way, in the Scriptures, the very first characteristic God chooses to reveal to us about Himself is His creativity. Then He says we’re made in His image.) Play revolves around creating stories and scenes and situations. You’ve gotta be willing to look foolish if you’re gonna “pretend” anything – and what is play without pretending something? Remember when you used to play hide-n-seek. I remember imagining that I was the good guy who was hiding from the dreaded evil enemy. I remember playing football and pretending to be the radio announcer as the game winning touchdown was scored.  My parents didn’t look down on me for those days. They didn’t think I was foolish. They laughed and enjoyed my creativity. They encouraged my imagination. They imagined with me. In play, we learned about the world. We began to understand how it worked. We developed deep friendships – in some ways they were probably deeper relationships than our current ones.

What if leaders began to “play” more? What if they imagined and weren’t afraid of looking foolish? What we created a culture of “play” where everyone was a part of it and no one really felt intimidated to join in on the fun? When we “play,” we don’t have to feel insecure, ’cause it’s just for fun anyway. If we taught our children to play more (by playing with them) would their generation have more leaders? I think it would.

If our leaders were allowed to imagine more, dream more, how many of us would dream with them? If they were allowed to “play” with stuff until they figured it out, what new innovations would we have?

In his book “Soul Tsunami,” Leonard Sweet says:

He (Jesus) displayed a genius for never growing up. He didn’t have much use for work. In fact he attracted his disciples by calling them from work: ‘Let others work, even bury their dead. You follow me.’ (Matthew 8:18-22)

Ask someone born before 1964, “What do you do?” and you will find out where they work, what their title is, what they “do” for a living. Ask someone born after 1964, “What do you do?” and you are as likely to find out that they dirt-bike, mountain-climb, net-surf, sea-kayak – in other words, they define themselves more by “life-first” than “work-first” commitments. . . .

If you want to make a violin sing, do you “work” at it? No, you “play” a violin. It takes a lot of “practice,” but the “practice” leads to “playing” the instrument. I want my marriage to sing. That’s why my wife and I don’t “work” at our marriage; we “play” at our marriage.  . . I don’t want the Scriptures to “work” in my life; I want them to “play” in my life.

Erwin McManus says:

People don’t get “burn out” from too much work, but from not enjoying their work.

Anyway, leaders should learn to play and play hard – not just when they’re away from the office, but even while they’re in it. Work should never really be work – it should be enjoyable – going to the office should be like entering the playground where you are free to express yourself (within the boundaries) and imagine and create and dream and get others to join you in it all. When you leave, you might have some dirt to clean off, but you’re still excited about coming back to play again the next day.

PS – I have watched children and on the playground, it’s the ones who imagine and dream and are willing to look foolish who end up leading the other kids. Leaders play. Players lead.

Bottom Leaders

 

As the leader of my son, there are (or will be) times when it’s appropriate for me to allow him to lead me. Of course I will only allow him to lead me to certain places – it’ll always be within the boundaries that I set, but still, I will choose to follow him sometimes so that he can grow into a leader himself.

In all our leadership training, it’s been clear that a leader is not defined by his/her position, power, or authority but by his/her character, skills, relationships, and vision. My position will always be over my son, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t the better leader. This means that the most incredible leader the world has ever known could be waiting on you at your favorite restaurant, or it could be the man who smiles at you while you’re pumping your gas. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the guy who stoops down and washes your feet.  (John 13)

Here’s where this stuff get interesting though. If a leader is not defined by his position and the best leader could be the guy in the lowliest of positions, then how much leadership should the man of position/authority assert? If a true leader can lead from the bottom position, and he’s the one with real vision, there most likely will be a clash between the real leader (with no position/authority) and the one who holds the position. The man of position may even recognize the value of this other man’s leadership, but stifle him out of his own fears of inadequacy. Of course the opposite could be true also – he might find that the man of position values his passion and ideas in such a way that he is able to implement them and help move things forward.

How can the man of position, remain humble and capable of recognizing bottom leaders? What role do bottom leaders have in leading positional leaders? Can a positional leader be led by a bottom leader who is a positional follower? When is the right time to follow a bottom leader? What boundaries should be set? If you do, are you still the leader or is it only a position? Will you be able to keep that position long if you allow a bottom leader to lead? Can a positional leader ever have true community with his followers? Can a positional leader serve his followers in such a way that he is actually a “bottom leader?” Can leadership be shared or does there have to be a position – a go-to guy – a buck-stops-here-guy? These lines between leaders and followers and positions get real blurry for me – because I see myself in each of these roles all the time.

It’s kind of a classic illustration, but the example we have from geese is pretty amazing. In their “V” formation, the leader is not the leader all the time. He cuts the wind resistance making it easier for the others to fly for a time and then he steps into one of the other positions so someone else (who isn’t as weary) can fly “lead.” While he sits in one of these other positions, he “quacks” loudly to encourage the one flying in the lead position. He “leads” from the back.

Anyway, leading from the bottom is an adventure. It’s a true calling. This world desperately needs more  bottom leaders, but it don’t recognize it’s need. Bottom leaders will most likely find themselves in the center of controversy, but hey, you’re in good company  – Jesus was a bottom leader. He was certainly in the center of controversy, too.

PS – The world needs more bottom leaders, not backseat drivers.

Persuasion

I love it when someone can convey a message with nothing but questions. Here’s a blog from seth godin that does just that:



How do I persuade you?

Do I show you a powerpoint filled with bullets?
Or give you a spirited sales pitch while looking you in the eye…

Perhaps I should send a very attractive salesperson.

Do I amplify my word of mouth and be sure you hear about my idea from three people you trust?
Do I minimize fear or maximize gain?

Are you best persuaded in a group, surrounded by your boss or your
employees or your family or people you trust? Will it matter if those
around you give me a standing ovation?

Can I persuade you over time, drip, drip, drip, or do you respond better if you feel an avalanche is coming?

Will you change your mind if I’m funny? Or if I scare you to pieces?

Perhaps there’s no way you’ll be persuaded. Perhaps nothing I can
say will make a difference. However, you’ve told yourself that before
and been wrong…

Will you buy if you get a discount? What if the price is high and going up tomorrow?

Do you want to be the first person to embrace an idea (or the last)?

Here’s the thing: unlike every other species, human beings make
decisions differently from one another. And the thing that persuades
you is unlikely to be the thing that persuades the next guy. Our
personal outlook is a lousy indicator of what works for anyone else.


It’s interesting to me that in the end, it all comes down to relationships. The best way to influence/persuade anyone, is to first understand that person and his/her needs, thoughts, & desires. Since each of us makes decisions differently, wouldn’t it make sense to figure that out before trying to influence them? Well, that is, if you have time to get to know them and the message/influence is important enough. Is the eternal message of Jesus as Lord important enough? Important enough to invest in getting to know others in such a way that we can persuade them?

Who will you get to know? How will you get to know them? Since no one cares what you know until they know you care, how will you love them? Care for them? Will that love and care be real or will it stop once the “project” is over and they have come to know Jesus?

Lessons from a Juggler

I have a friend, Jonathan Root, who is a professional juggler/comedian. His team has 5 International Championship Titles and 3 World Records. You can check him out at www.rootberry.net. Recently, we’ve been having a conversation on facebook about leadership and juggling. I just thought I’d share some of our conversations with you guys here. Although most of the ideas expressed here are his, I’ve marked specific things he said in blue. The rest is just my ramblings about it all.

I started out asking him the basic question, “How is juggling like leadership?”  Here’s his answer:

9:16am Feb 26th
Juggling is not like leadership. Juggling is a means to entertain people. I use juggling to draw and keep peoples attention. Then I use the juggling and comedy to relate to them. A pastor, a speaker and entertainer (in this case a juggler) are all trying to effectively communicate with their audience. If you cannot communicate with your audience then your message will be ineffective. And the message we bring is the message of salvation so we cannot (afford to) be ineffective in communicating our message. This has probably led you to more questions so feel free to ask.
Root

.

As our discussion got deeper, it became clear that he is passionate about communicating the gospel effectively – much like a pastor or Christian leader.

Here are some of the main lessons I learned in our conversations.
1. Juggling and leadership are all about practice. “Focused practice
make an excellent juggler. Trying the same tricks over and over till
you hit them every time is an art.”
In leadership, I’d have to say that the same is true. The more you lead, the better you become. The difficult thing is that a true leader is seeking to do something like it’s never been done before, while a juggler is trying to be consistent about doing the same thing over and over.  Still, even in a new situation, all of our past experiences or practice helps to guide our decisions as we lead. Practice is all about developing skills.

2. Like leadership, in juggling it is critical to not watch the ball hit your hands, but to watch a ball until it
starts to fall then you know where to put your hand.
In leadership, this is similar to the way that a true leader watches culture and the movement of God so that he can lead others to place themselves in the right place to serve Him. Watching the ball until it starts to drop is all about vision.

3. Professional juggling requires attention to details like directions to venues, time management for making flights, and constant improvement/development of your show. Otherwise, you’ll eventually burn enough bridges that you won’t be able to book anything. I wonder how many churches have found themselves in this place? It seems that our culture feels pretty “burned” by the church and I’m not sure it’s completely fair to them, but it’s still true none-the-less. It’s important for the Christian leader to seek constant improvement/development of the people (the church) too. Leaders must be managers too.

4. There is something called a “squeeze” in juggling where two balls end up landing in the same hand at the same time. These are not done very often because they are so difficult, but according to Jonathan, “you have to want to do them.” There are a lot of things in the church that we like to avoid. When a true leader’s vision requires a “squeeze,” he goes for it. No matter what the difficulty, like Moses, he finds the courage to follow God through the Red Sea’s parted walls of water. God saves us through the “squeezes” not from them.

5. Juggling is an art. The best leaders in juggling are the guys who are good at putting it all together – Routining the juggling, mixing in comedy and having it all relate to the audience so they laugh and clap. In those moments the audience experiences more than just juggling. There is a sort of “art” to leadership too – when everything comes together under the right leader there is something that can’t really be defined – something that transcends the task at hand – something that goes beyond the vision. True leadership “feels” God’s timing and transcends our humanity.

By the way, here’s a clip of Jonathan and his friend Bill from their shows.

Legalism

Calvin Miller says something in his book “The Empowered Leader” which is so simple and yet so clear that it forces me to think/meditate on it more. He says, “God can only direct the flexible.”

How often do we equate our legalistic (non-flexible) behaviors with being more spiritual – Saying to ourselves, “If I can do this or that or spend this much time serving Him, then I’ll be more spiritual.” Romans 14, it seems pretty clear that the weaker man is the one who is more legalistic. The one who lives in freedom seems to be the stronger.

Just thinking about this stuff this morning.

Servant Leadership

This leadership model is grounded in the idea that different people need to be led in different ways. Let me explain the basics.

Commitment and Competence – Development Stages
Development stage 1 (D1) – People are usually highly committed to a new project, but have low competence since they’ve never done it before.

Development stage 2 (D2) – When the honeymoon is over commitment levels typically drop and competence remains pretty much the same. (This is where people most often quit.)

D3 – If they persevere both commitment and competence rise again.

D4 – The longer someone does something the better they get. Both commitment and competence continue to rise.

Directive and Supportive Behaviors

All leadership breaks down to these two kinds of behaviors.

Directive = *goal setting, action planning, clarifying roles, *showing and telling, time lines, evaluations,  priorities, etc.

Supportive = *listening, praise/encouragement, info sharing about organization or self, *problem solving, asking for input, rationale (explaining the whys), etc.

* = most critical behaviors.


Putting it all Together

A “D1” (high commitment and low competence) needs an “S1” Leadership Style – S1 = Low Support/High Direction (leader decides) This is sometimes referred to as a “Directing” style of leadership. Motto is “Leader decides.”

A “D2” (low commitment and low competence) needs high direction and high support since they are in the “quitting” stage. This is “S2” style is a “Coaching” style. The motto is “Let’s talk, leader decides.”

A “D3” whose commitment and competence have increased needs a “Supportive” style of leadership with high support and low direction. Motto – “Let’s talk, you decide.”

And finally a “D4” (high commitment and competence) needs a “delegating” style. The “S4” is a low direction/low support style which empowers others to “run with it.” Motto is “You decide.”


OK -in my opinion, most of these behaviors come pretty naturally if you truly care about those you are leading. If you’ve developed a relationship with them, then you can sense a lot of this stuff. It’s certainly a good model to understand and having this knowledge will give you a way to evaluate your efforts, but it really all comes down to relationship.

This understanding of leadership could also be beneficial to parenting. Kids need to have a different type of relationship with their parents as they develop. In the first few years (1-5years) a lot of directing is needed. Between the ages of 6-12, they probably need more of a coaching-style of relationship with their parents.  The parents still make the decisions, but begin having discussions to help their children understand why they are making those choices. As teenagers (if parents have done well with the other steps), parents could begin to play a more supportive role where they allow kids to make some decisions based upon the talks they have together. It’s important to recognize that this stage has “low” direction not “no” direction. In certain cases, the leader/parent must still make the decisions. By the time they leave home, (like it or not) kids will be responsible (or not) for their own actions. If a parent has been successful in leading his children as God would call him to, he would probably be comfortable delegation or even with sending his child out on his own.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be the leader and parent that You’ve called me to be. Allow me a special ability to discern where people are so that I can lead them in the way that will most benefit them. Help me to be more intentional about training others so they can lead. Grant me favor in the eyes of those I lead so that I can grow deeper relationships with them in order to bring them to new places and to understand what challenges they need or what support they need. Give me a vision which is worthy of commitment – one which honors You at every turn. Glorify your name through my life and my influence upon others. AMEN.

Monkey Business

I just read a great article called “Management Time: Who’s got the Monkey?” by William Oncken Jr and Donald Wass. (It can be found in the Harvard Business Review Nov-Dec 1974 issue.)

Anyway, they describe how  leaders fail to manage their time. They describe a fictional situation in which the boss is walking down the hallway and one of his employees strides up to him and says, “Hey, we’ve got a problem. . . .etc.” The boss knows enough to get involved, but not enough to make a decision on the spot. He thanks the employee for bringing it up and tells him he’ll get back to him about it.

This interaction seems to be no big deal, but think about it: The employee has just orchestrated a situation in which the monkey on his back has jumped to the boss’ shoulders. Now, the boss has an extra burden and more than likely, he has allowed a few other employees to do the same – pretty soon, he’s got multiple monkeys on his back. The authors are very clearly advising the boss to not allow such manipulation. They make a great case for empowering those employees to make the decisions and move forward with minimal interaction from the boss. He should focus primarily on those things he’s gifted in.

Here’s my question though: We’re studying Jesus’ model of leadership. He turned everything upside down. The normal top-down hierarchy is flipped with the leader at the bottom serving those he leads. As I look at Jesus, I see a man who was able to take the things which burdened others (their monkeys) and simply remove them from their backs. I’m not sure He took them on Himself – maybe He just knew that some monkeys weren’t worth anyone carrying. Of course there are other times when it does seem like He carried someone else’s monkey (like when He stooped to wash the disciple’s feet).

As a servant leader, who carries the monkey? How can a leader serve without getting bogged down or becoming unfocused from the vision? How can he remain attentive to the things God has gifted him to do while still carrying monkeys? or should someone else carry them? When does he serve and when does he lead? Of course leading is serving, but shouldn’t he also be an example of getting down and dirty in the mundane services too?

Just some thoughts.

Patch Adams Leadership Qualities

Introduction

The movie, Patch Adams, (Universal Studios, 1998) is based on the life a Dr. Patch Adams. A man who believes that “the most revolutionary act one can commit in our world is to be happy.” (from his biography on internationalspeakers.com.) Famous comedian, Robin Williams, plays the role very well. The film begins in a mental institution and follows Patch through a series of events which lead him to discover his vision for life – to help people. This in turn eventually brings him to medical school – the central focus of the film. During this time he spends many hours in the hospital working with patients on their health situations – this includes both medical and emotional needs. His desire to “treat the patient rather than just their condition” lands him in the direct line of fire of the dean of the school and in a climactic moment, Patch is vindicated by the school board in front of all the people who were closest to him – his classmates, school faculty, hospital nurses and patients, and many others. In the film Patch has a vision for a free hospital and in real life, we see that this vision has become true. He now serves as the founder and director of the Gesundheit Institute which has offered free medical care to over 15,000 people over the years. He combines his medical training and his experiences as a street clown to understand the relationship between laughter and therapy, and serves others by taking “clown tours” of hospitals and orphanages each year in Russia. (all personal information is from his biography on internationalspeakers.com) Patch is the kind of man that anyone and everyone can learn something from.

Patch is the epitome of good leadership. He was a man (1) with well-rounded character, (2) was good at making and keeping relationships with people, (3) had a vision for what his purpose was in becoming a doctor, and (4) had the skills to accomplish it. We will seek to demonstrate each of these qualities using scenes from the film. 

Character

If only one positive thing could be said of Patch Adams, it would have to be something concerning his character. A careful viewing of the film and study of his character reveals that it is almost impossible to find any kind of character flaws. Patch was pure in his intentions and he did not let anything get in the way of his drive for helping others. The only real character flaw in Patch was his blatant disregard for authority. However, what is interesting about this flaw is that it was always for the better. He broke the law or the rules of the school so that he could go and help people. As mentioned before, he did not let anything get in the way of his passion to help others. 

When first introduced to Patch, he is in a mental hospital – self-admitted because he had tried to commit suicide. While he was in the mental hospital, he was searching for help for himself but ended up helping others with their problems. He had a unique personality which allowed him to love others greatly, especially his roommate in the mental hospital. To help his roommate get over his fear, Patch acted like he was shooting all of the imaginary squirrels in the room so his friend could go to the restroom. By being real with his roommate and others in the mental hospital, he helped them with their problems and later in the movie, we see his roommate at Patch’s graduation from Medical School. What he did with his roommate had a lasting effect and Patch was passionate about helping others in the same way. It was in the mental hospital that he figured out what he was going to do (a vision) with his life. So, he went to Medical School.

Patch was an extremely diligent worker. He was one of the top in his class and yet it seemed like he hardly ever studied. He was always over at the hospital playing with the patients to improve their state of being. However, he told Carin that he had read the whole Biology book, which any college student knows is crazy. He obviously studied a lot since he was among the top in his class at the Medical College.

Another gold star on Patch’s character report is his honesty. When he told the Dr. at the mental hospital what he was going to do with his life and the Dr. defended himself by saying that is what he did, Patch told him outright that the Dr. sucked at it. Also, when Patch was accused of cheating by one of his classmates, he went straight to the student and confronted him about it. Patch told his classmate exactly what he thought of him and told him that in spite of the situation, he didn’t hate him. It might come as a shock that this extremely gentle and loving guy would have the boldness to be blatantly honest, but this extreme integrity and honest actually endears him to the audience. A couple of other confrontations within movie continue to do so.

Patch’s integrity is almost untouchable. His passion for his life was to help as many people as he could at any cost. That even meant buying a ranch house and opening it up to people who could not afford health care and could not be admitted into the hospital. He opened up his house to them and even had his friends help in building up this “free hospital”. He and his best friend in the college went around town looking for people who needed help and brought them back to the house to help them. Even with the threat of being kicked out of the college for “practicing medicine illegally without a license,” Patch stood his ground for what he was doing by explaining the operation of the free hospital. He was breaking the law technically, but Patch’s integrity, good grades, and “excessive happiness” had persuaded the College Board to allow him to stay in college. One of the biggest struggles and test of integrity for Patch was intertwined with this free hospital he was in charge of as the love of his life was murdered by one of the patients when she went to help him. He was ready to give it all up because this had happened. But in the end, he stayed with the hospital and stuck to his vision of helping people.

Relationships

In talking about the theme of this movie, it seems to involve looking at the simple view of humans and their emotions, instead of their ailments. In so doing, the movie expresses how people tend to produce defense mechanisms or even a cure to their ailments. No one else could have played this role as well as Robin Williams did. Not only was he very funny through out the movie, but he also captured the audience with the deep rooted problem that medical practice seems to miss. He touched people’s lives with his funny antics and his lively character, showing human concern and compassion; something not seen in the medical field in the movie. Patch Adams received his nickname (and identity) as “Patch” due to a moment where he patches another patient’s cup. He finds himself fighting an uphill battle as he faces different obstacles – including the dean of the university who tried to have him expelled from the school. Patch wins over most of his peers by his uncompromising faith in what he believed, and at the end he makes everyone a believer in his ideas.

Patch Adams is inspired to continue in this line of helping others as he did with the patient’s cup. His vision becomes clear to him due to the response he received from the patient and also of how he learned a principle that had been previously alien to him. He was shown how not to look at the problem but to look past the problem. The answer obviously is not the problem but beyond the scope of the problem. Interestingly, enough Patch begins pursuing his vision of helping people by going through medical school to become a doctor; he starts off being unpopular with the immediate crowd because of his vision and his non-conformity. Through many situations of treating patients with an uncanny effort of concern and compassion for them, he wins over the staff of the hospital and eventually his own colleagues. By going about and living up to his ideas and beliefs Patch succeeded in convincing others to believe in his views. Even the most adamant of his peers, finally breaks down and sees the value of his labor. The proof of his efforts makes the difference in the movie because people around him approve of his work.

Patch Adam’s represents the epitome of relational leadership. Patch exemplifies what leaders should first do before assuming a leadership role. Patch began by practicing his ideas in his view of treating patients. He modeled his vision and convinced people to believe in his ideas. His peers even began to join and help him with his techniques and succeed in demonstrating how his ideas were effective. His ideas involved sacrifice and time which was valuable to a student attending this university. Patch became a household name because of his charitable and compassionate disposition. He got to know many people on all levels of life; he listened to many people and helped them all. Even if the patient was beyond help of his or her aliment, Patch was committed to making their last days as comfortable as possible. Patch appreciated the simple things in life and this was reflected on his peers and coworkers.

Vision

In addition to his character and relationships, Patch is a great example of a leader due to his clear vision. This vision propelled him to accomplish much and fueled others to come along side him and join in these efforts. In his book Visioneering, Andy Stanley shares that vision is not just something that “could” be, but also something that “should” be. (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, pg 17, 1999, Multnomah Publishers, Inc.) Patch’s vision was no exception. While in a mental institution, Patch discovered both his vision and his identity. Another patient called
him “Patch” when he fixed his cup. With this new identity, and the realization that the doctors in the institution were incapable of helping others, his vision was born – to help people. Not only “could” people be helped, but in the situation that he found himself in, they “should” be helped. Something had to be done. This fueled everything within Patch. It motivated him to become a medical student,
but even more, to question the practices which had become the norm among
doctors.

Another experience helped him to solidify this vision. As described before Patch helped his roommate pee, by pretending to shoot some imaginary squirrels. It may have seemed like an insignificant accomplishment, but on the heels of his realization about his identity and vision, it was huge! It was the small success story that Patch needed to help him believe he could accomplish this vision of helping people. It was the very next morning that he began his journey to become a doctor by checking himself out of the mental institution.

Vision requires much more than just an idea about what could and should happen though. A true vision motivates one to go through trials. Patch gained an understanding from a character named Arthur Mendelsonn in another scene in the mental institution. Arthur, who has some clear psychopathic behaviors, is running through the ward holding up four fingers and asking people to tell him how many he is holding up. When they say “Four,” he gets upset with them and says that they all have small brains. In a tender moment after Arthur first calls him “Patch,” he explains that there are four when you look at the problem, but if you look past it to the solution, you see eight (each eye sees four). This concept is vital to understanding vision. Any vision worth striving for will come up against some opposition, and if we are able to look past the problem to the solution – to focus on the vision rather than the problem, we’ll be able to persevere and eventually succeed. There’s one particular scene where Patch is coming up against the dean of his medical school, where this proves to be true. Patch is able to see beyond the dean, to the vision of becoming a doctor.

One last incident in Patch’s life illustrates his quest/readiness for his vision – to help people. Patch has a strong imagination, and while eating in a little diner, he starts playing with the things on the table: a napkin dispenser, ketchup bottle, etc. He sees more than these items though. Patch sees a building, a “new kind of hospital.” Men of vision, like Patch, are able to see what others can’t see. They look through a lens of vision which allows them to notice things differently and apply situations to their vision that others would not have seen. Men of vision are consumed by their vision and so they’re always on the lookout for new or better ways to accomplish it.

Skills

For any leader, skills are a necessary thing to have in order to lead in the field in which they are a part of. Patch was skilled in many things, but his abilities in the area of study, medicine, and relationships are standouts. 

There were tensions in the movie between Patch and his classmates because of his ability to make time for his relationships and still be able to study the material thoroughly. His study habits were so good, that he was able to graduate near the top of his class. He, when talking with another student about studying, even mentioned that he had already read the entire biology book. His skills at being a good doctor/medical school student did not come easily, but as a result of hard work, and more than likely, frequent long nights without much sleep.

His excellent skills at being a medical student were shown in his grades, but as well as with the people he was able to treat. He treated his patients with laughter and love, but he also treated them with the knowledge he obtained at medical
school. His patients had an overwhelming recovery rate (though not clearly shown, it was implied in the movie) or improved level of living. His patients did not seem to doubt his ability to take care of them. He was able to identify a medical problem with relative ease, but was not afraid or ashamed to ask for help when he did not have a solution to a problem or if he did not know how to handle a situation he was in. When faced with the possibility of being dismissed from medical school due to “excessive joy,” he went to a person that would know exactly what would need to be done.

As mentioned before, when he was faced with the possibility of being forced out of medical school, he had to go in front of a school board for review. His actions were reviewed, but also his grades were under the microscope. These grades are a direct reflection of his skills or abilities to perform as a student and as a doctor. The board decided not to remove him from school, in part, because of his excellent grades. His grades were on a consistent basis near top of his entire class. If there was any doubt in his ability to be a good doctor, it could not have come from his grades.

One skill he had that many of the other students at the school lacked was the skill to communicate in a joyful way to people. The majority of his peers did not refer to patients by their names, but by their assigned bed or room. Just knowing someone’s name made the difference for his patients. He even went beyond that and got to know the person’s likes and dislikes. When he listened, he also remembered what was said to him.

These scenes help in understanding that this skill (memory, or heart-felt memory) is an amazing ability. Remembering such things as people’s desires comes as a result of hard work – it is intentional work. Patch excelled at remembering what people said. This helps any leader in building relationships with other people. When trying to gain the trust of followers, a leaders who remembers his follower’s visions and dreams, is more able to help them accomplish their personal goals while still being able to lead them to accomplish the vision for the
group. Patch did this with many of his patients. He helped them to fulfill some life-long dreams before they left this life.

Some skills, people are born with. Some would call these gifts rather than skills, but nonetheless, they help people accomplish their goals as leaders. Patch, whether born with it or if he worked for it, he certainly had the skill of listening. He talked quite a bit, but listening to the people Patch talked with, helped him lead. He may not have been able to read body language, but when people spoke, he was able to listen. He used this skill to aid his other skill of remembering other people’s desires. Patch had many other skills too: getting tasks accomplished, relationships, laughter, and others. His skills helped him lead in altering the medical field forever.

Conclusion

When it comes to leaders, it is difficult to find one that compares to Patch Adams. He had his faults like all leaders do, but his outstanding leadership qualities overshadow them in most situations. Patch was a leader with character that would impress angels. His developed deep relationships and through them was able to impact many lives. His vision to help people by offering free medical care was unheard of, but it was a vision that he was able to influence others to take part of. His skills in the medical profession were hard to match.

All of his leadership qualities were established through his personal pilgrimage through his life. He was able to discover his identity in helping others, what his integrity would be like because of the lack of integrity around him, his ability to be intimate through close relationships with people seen as outcasts, and his intensity to help others through their problems. He was a leader’s leader. His persona and enthusiasm was contagious. He never forgot his past, but always looked toward the future. He had a goal to not focus on problems, but to look past them in order to overcome them. Patch Adams – the leader’s leader in the medical world.

Tightrope Walking

There’s a classic story about a tightrope walker who rolls a wheelbarrow across the wire. When he asks if people believe he can do it again, they all say, “Yes!” but when he challenges them to get in the wheelbarrow and prove their belief. . .well, I guess it reveals their true belief. If we don’t step out in faith every once in a while, does that reveal our faith too? When we live our lives always always making the “smart” or “safe” choice, or we go after the goal that we’re sure to achieve, what does it reveal about our relationship with Christ? Do people look at our lives and wonder, “Is that all their God has called them to? Is this really all there is to being a Christian?”

What would it be like to have someone look at your life and say the opposite. . .”Whoa! He’s got this insatiable desire to change the world! He’s crazy to attempt that! What is it in a man that compels him to be that way?”

Could it be that our “Christian” lives are lacking the intensity and risky nature that God requires from a people who have been given faith? Is it a lack of exercising the faith we’ve been given or do we blame God and say He didn’t give us enough faith?

Warren Bennis quotes Karl Wallenda saying, “Walking the tightwire is living; everything else is waiting.”


Prayer:
Lord, may my life be that of a tightrope artist. I want to honor You with a life of not only walking the wire, but one of enjoying the trip and dancing through the process with You by my side.


PS – My first set of wheels – Here’s a pic of me @ 9 months. (June 1970 – I look like a girl.) As a kid, I had really good balance. Mom said I was walking at an early age. I can remember that learning to ride a bike, skate, walk on stilts, etc. came pretty easily to me. I wonder how good my balance is these days? Of course the “balance” I need now is a little different.

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