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Publisher / Editor:
Paul Hayden

Dueling Leadership and ‘Leadershifts’

April 1, 2024

This is an interesting time in world history. People feel used, violated, and even deceived everywhere I go by those in leadership and authority in many areas of society. It reminds me of a story by comedian Jackie Mason. “My grandfather always said, ‘Don’t watch your money; watch your health.’ So, one day, while I was watching my health, someone stole my money. It was my grandfather.” Sound familiar? 

It seems to me the whole world is simmering. One wonders when it’s going to boil over. The scripture reminds us, “A leader of good judgment gives stability; an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste.” Proverbs 29:5

May I say it this way? Today, many people in leadership and authority have opted for a ‘themselves-first, society-second’ approach to leading and governing. When this happens, personal character and servanthood are sacrificed for winning, indoctrinating, and controlling. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned how to obey are given the right to command.” In other words, if you feel too big for little things, it’s probably an indicator that you are too little for big things. Nothing is stable with this type of leader, and there’s mega-waste.   

Motivational speaker Steve Ventura said, “If there’s any concept that’s synonymous with leadership, it’s got to be responsibility.” However, in today’s world, it appears that a good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem. Many leaders these days want authority without responsibility. Why? There are no consequences to them, and they can blame someone else. Great politics, terrible governing. As Alfred Adler said, “It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.” 

Adler’s observation might easily be applied to today’s popular leaders who are long on promises but short on delivery and watch their popularity ratings more than govern, serve, spend wisely, and lead what they were selected or elected for. Just because you’re up in the air and harping on something doesn’t mean you’re an angel. Society's frustration is overwhelming, and the consequences are often severe.

Aesop tells the story of the frogs who wanted a king. They annoyed Jupiter with their request until he finally tossed a log into the pond. For a while, the frogs were happy with their new leader. Soon, however, they discovered that they could jump up and down on their leader and run all over him. He offered no resistance and gave no response. He merely floated back and forth on the pond, a practice that finally exasperated the frogs, who were sincere about wanting “strong leadership.”

So back to Jupiter they went, complaining about their log leader and appealing for much stronger administrative oversight. Jupiter was weary of the tiresome frogs, so this time, he gave them a stork that stood tall above the members of the group. The stork certainly had the appearance of a leader. The frogs were quite happy with the new situation. Their leader stalked around the pond, making impressive noises and attracting great attention. Their joy turned to sorrow, however, and then to panic, when very soon the stork began eating his subjects.

People let’s quit swinging back and forth between logs and storks. The Bible tells us what a real leader is like. “Kings like to throw their weight around, and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way for you (disciples). Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of a servant.” Philippians 2:3-4 Leaders don’t gather for themselves; they serve others without self-driven agendas. This takes character and values the essence of servanthood. Hint: You can’t change your character by getting a facelift. 

Yes, leadership is a big deal. Why? “People make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to improve things.” Harry S. Truman. I would say pop culture is shaping history, not skillful leaders who want the best for everyone. H. Jackson Brown says, “Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it will be forward, backward, or sideways.” 

Let’s explore some options regarding the type of leaders we follow or vote for. My good friend Drew Neal, a voice for Solutionary Leadership, wrote the following about Leadership and Protection. What a leader chooses to protect tells you about their motivation. 

Here are some unhealthy leadership protections. Imposter Leaders protect their credibility. Controlling Leaders protect their interests. Religious Leaders protect their ideology. Boundless Leaders will do anything to get ahead and protect their image. Manipulative Leaders protect their lies. Political leaders protect their seat of power. I think we can all relate to one or more of the tendencies on this list. Acknowledging and overcoming these tendencies is essential for good governance. 

Here are some healthy leadership protections. Authentic leaders protect their honest values. Empowering leaders protect their people and teams. Servant leaders protect their principles. Innovative leaders protect their culture and cause growth and honesty. These ‘Solutionary’ leaders serve as authentic and empowering innovators of solutions that dignify all involved with value. This is your better option. 

Let’s close with a leadership dilemma. Lovers of people are not always the greatest leaders of people, and leaders of people are not always the greatest lovers of people. Love and leadership work together. Jesus is a great example to learn from when resolving a dilemma. So, we can either use and support healthy and honest leadership or be used by unhealthy leadership.

Maybe it’s time to do something about it. Why? Nothing changes if nothing changes.  

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com