Saturday, March 20, 2010

I am Thankful for Leadership Theories in the COG

 [Please note that the following in no way reflects on the exemplary leadership I currently experience in the Church of God. MGHMOMS – personal acronym]

Some of the most entertaining and amusing sayings I have ever heard about leadership have come from leaders in the Church of God. We had a guest lecturer in a class on leadership I took with Martin Baldree at Lee College. He was a prominent lay leader in the church and of course a highly successful (wealthy) businessman. He offered the quintessential capitalist definition of leadership, “My definition of leadership is quite simple. A good leader is someone who knows how to get others to do for them what they do not want to do for themselves.” What a wonderful definition. As a graduate of Lee I don’t have to worry about ethics, values, mission, vision, authority, or power. It is all about me, narcissistic pragmatism.

At one point in my ministry I worked under an unnamed (to protect this not so innocent writer) school administrator who gave me two phenomenal statements. On one occasion we were attending an accreditation meeting. As we were walking into the convention hotel lobby he mused, “I love these annual meetings. Everything I know about running a college I learned at these annual meetings.” Now that breathes confidence into a faculty member. Our school is being administered by someone with advanced training in convention loitering.

The same administrator offered this helpful observation about administration/leadership. “My philosophy of leadership is to stop everything that crosses my desk. The things I can’t stop I accept as the will of God and I just get out of the way.” You can’t make that up. He was as serious as a heart attack (not a clue as to his identity). And he practiced it. The school librarian told me how he had petitioned that President multiple times to convert the library from the old Dewey Decimal system to the Library of Congress catalog system. The President vetoed it every year. The frustrated librarian fell back on that old adage about forgiveness and permission and proceeded to make the change anyway. The next year he was at the accreditation meeting where a session was held on the need for libraries to convert to the Library of Congress system. Our librarian was amused at the gusto with which our President bragged about our school being ahead of the curve on this one.

One of my favorite leadership concepts is more recent. A former General Overseer tried to change the denominational model of leadership by “turning the pyramid on its head.” Now think about it, an upside down pyramid. I would go to Egypt to see that, but you wouldn’t get me to stand in its shadow no matter how hot the day. Perhaps we could create a department of gyration responsible for spinning the upturned pyramid like a top. That would keep it up for a while, but how do you chart its course? I can just see the masses running to escape the colossal tornado before it crashes on the unsuspecting. Pity the Overseer with the whole denomination resting on his head.

Now you know the secrets of my success in ministry, I listen to my elders. Without such great counsel I would never have risen to such prominence as a mega-church pastor; I would never have become the mover and shaker that I am.

Cleveland, Tennessee
March 20, 2010


Anonymous said...

You are the son of Ellis and Ernestine Johns - destined to take take on your convictions despite consequences.

Lisa said...

You forgot the leadership theories revolving around narrow ideas of excellence. (though if you write about those, I'll probably throw up all over my laptop.. so don't.)

Derek said...