Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blog is Moving

It has been a while since I last posted on this blog - apologies. This blog is moving to www.cbn.com with a new name: Leading beyond influence. I will keep you all posted.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lenten Leadership

The ancient Christian practice of Lent has been described at times as a period to confront what is false within us - the false self - with the light and power of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Thomas Keating has called it a period of Divine Therapy where the false self is confronted by the light of God and transformed into the likeness of God' Son by His Holy Spirit.

Christine Sine at Mustard Seed House has put together a wonderfully inspirational and moving guide to Lent. She writes: "Our Lenten journey begins with an invitation to lay down all the inner burdens of self-centeredness, indifference and greed that distract us from a whole-hearted commitment to God. We come to the cross for forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Only then can we experience the full joy of Easter morning and be resurrected into the new life that God intends for us, a life in which all that we do and all that we commit our time and our resources to is truly governed by our love for God and our love for neighbors around the world."

May this be a time that we as aspiring leaders/servants rediscover the power of God's truth to confront, deliver and transform.

A Prayer for Lent, by Henri Nouwen

"How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death?

Yes, Lord, I have to die—with you, through you, and in you—and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess.... I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it.

O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen."

Nouwen, Henri (2002). A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee. Image Books.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Meaning at Work" Seminar

I will be presenting a seminar for the Center for Effective Organization on April 9, 2009. Here is a quick overview of the seminar:

Meaning at Work: Helping Leaders and Followers find Joy and Fulfillment at Work

Seminar Overview

Imagine an organization where people love coming to work, are highly productive on a daily basis, and describe their work as meaningful and fulfilling. Imagine an organization whose leaders measure effectiveness not merely by the “bottom-line” but by how much meaning and fun are being had by all. Could the redemptive and fulfilling nature of work be rediscovered in highly effective organizations? Could spirituality and work be seen as friends, rather than enemies? Could such an organization successfully operate and compete in our world?

Date: April 9th, 2009
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Regent University Campus - Robertson Hall Virginia Beach, VA
Registration Fee: FREE
Registration Closes: April 6th, 2009

:: Rediscovering the nature of work
:: The redemptive power of work
:: Combating organizational acedia, laziness and sloth
:: Vocation, discernment and meaning at work
:: A Spirituality of work
:: The joy-filled organization

Benefit and Use
:: Develop a renewed understanding of the nature, purpose and power of work.
:: Help leaders and followers to turn their work into meaningful, joy-filled experiences.
:: Help leaders and followers construct a philosophy, theology and praxis of redemptive and meaningful approaches to work that in turn will add to the construction of fully integrated spiritual and joy-filled organizations.

Intended Audience
:: Leaders and followers in organizations.
:: Any person involved in work.

To register for this seminar see here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fill me with Fire

The reading this morning from the Merton Institute's "Weekly Reflection" deeply engaged me. This is who I want to be:

"Justify my soul, O God, but also from Your fountains fill my will with fire. Shine in my mind, although perhaps this means "be darkness to my experience," but occupy my heart with Your tremendous Life. Let my eyes see nothing in the world but Your glory, and let my hands touch nothing that is not for Your service. Let my tongue taste no bread that does not strengthen me to praise Your great mercy. I will hear Your voice, and I will hear all the harmonies you have created singing your hymns. Sheep's wool and cotton from the field shall warm me enough that I may live in Your service; I will give the rest to the poor. Let me use all things for one sole reason: to find my joy in giving You glory."

Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions Press, 1961): 44.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Edition of Inner Resources for Leaders

The new edition of Inner Resources for Leader is available. There are four new articles exploring the link between Leadership and Christian Spirituality:

At the center of each human being dwells a unique spirit. By examining the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit as a product of Christian spiritual formation, Susan Gibbons provides the fourth in a series of nine leadership devotionals.

In her study Sharon Norris identifies the authentic Christological leadership characteristics of Jesus through sacred texture analysis of the Philippians hymn (2:5-11) to reveal a model of leadership that may answer the call for effective leadership for the modern day.

Jon Tomlinson posits that the concept of active followership is most applicable with Jesus' doctrine of discipleship in the Matthean Gospel. Through the lens of followership, he proposes a practical guide to assist congregations in fulfilling the biblical mandate commonly known as The Great Commission.

David Gyertson describes his pilgrimage into the mission, message, and meaning of spiritually formed leadership. As he shares his process of transformation with his readers he motivates, and inspires to take our distinctive understandings of the call to world-changing leadership to its highest levels.

Here is a direct link to the new edition.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The On-going Quest

Two of my recent papers were presented at the Second International Conference on the Integration of Spirituality and Organizational Leadership in India this last week. These papers mark my ongoing quest to work with other scholars in this common effort to recover a Biblical and orthodox perspective on Christian Leadership:

"Cultivating Leadership Humility: Insights from Early Western Cenobitic Monasticism." (Corné J. Bekker)

The current global turn to spirituality coincides with the emergence of spirituality-based theories, models and approaches in organizational leadership studies. Contemporary Western ecclesial leaders and thinkers have increasingly participated in the dialogue between the sometimes opposing fields of spirituality and organizational leadership. This article seeks to join in this emerging dialogue by exploring the leadership wisdom of St. Benedict of Nursia (480-540 A.D.), the father of early Western Cenobitic Monasticism; first, by locating early Benedictine spirituality using Waaijman’s (2006) matrix for spirituality research and, then by illustrating the usefulness of St. Benedict’s rule in the cultivation of leadership humility.

"Empty to Lead: Towards a Model of Mimetic Christological Leadership." (Corné J. Bekker and Bruce E. Winston)

This paper proposes an early mimetic Christological model of Christian Leadership in Roman Philippi by exploring the judicial, rhetorical structure and the social function of the Philippians hymn (2:5-11) as a cursus pudorum (course of ignominies) that stands in stark contrast to a cursus honorum, the formalized sequence of public offices in first-century Roman cities. The Philippians hymn challenged the notions and principles of the prevalent shame/honor social matrix of Roman societies by offering an alternative set of behaviors and values that stood in stark contrast with those of the dominant culture. The hymn makes use of a cursus pudorum in which the voluntary abasement, humility and obedience of Christ becomes an exemplum that offers a critique of the tyrannies of the timocratic leadership style of Roman Philippi and offers an alternative vision of service oriented leadership rooted in humility and common mutuality.

Both papers will be published in the accompanying research volume by McMillan Press.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

John Michael Talbot on the Feast of St. Anthony of the Desert

John Michael Talbot gives a small, but great introduction on the live and testimony of St. Anthony of the Desert. May we all learn from the wisdom and insight from these early Christians.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Value of Community

"The monastic perspective can assist us specifically with regard to understanding the value of community. Imagine for a moment that the people you encounter at home, work, or school are the very people God has given you to pray with, eat with, and play with for the rest of your life. And you are supposed to thank God for this, every day, several times a day. This is what monastic people take on. And what they've learned from this particular asceticism, in attempting to live in peace with themselves and with others, may constitute their greatest gift to us. How radical to think that we can best know ourselves by embracing commitment, not rejecting it; by relating to others, not callously relegating them to the devilishly convenient category of 'other.'"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Leading with the Head bowed down

Lessons in Leadership Humility from the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia.

Leadership often draws the wrong kinds of leaders. Positions of power and influence have the tendency to attract the proud and the upwardly mobile individualists[1]. Contemporary leadership authors have gone as far as describing organizational leaders as idols, heroes, saviors, warriors, magicians, and even as omnipotent demi-gods[2]. But recently more voices within organizational discourse have been raised to question our perception and acceptance of these power-vested models of leadership. Could leaders be humble, many wonder[3]? It seems that the tide started to turn as the century did, in favor of a virtuous approach to leadership, culminating in the publication of Jim Collins’ pioneering article on Level 5 Leadership in the January 2001 edition of the Harvard Business Review[4]. Collins proposed that the “most powerfully transformative executives” surveyed in his study all possessed the virtue of personal humility.
Although Collin’s work[5] does not describe the process of formation of humble leaders, it does provide an erudite four-fold description of organizational leadership humility:

  • Personally humble leaders demonstrate a compelling modesty. They shun public adulation and never boast.
  • Personally humble leaders act with calm and quiet determination, not relying on inspiring charisma to motivate but rather inspired standards.
  • Personally humble leaders avoid personal ambition in favor of multi-generational organizational growth and development.
  • Personally humble leaders are self-reflective and tend to appropriate blame towards themselves are not others.

How then is humility formed in leaders? It might not come as a surprise that Jim Collins is not the first person to describe the possibility and power of leadership humility. A sixth-century Christian monk, St. Benedict of Nursia (480-540 A.D.), the father of Western Cenobitic Monasticism[6], wrote a rule in which he provided his followers with a twelve step process description of how humility is formed in followers and leaders alike. Benedict’s rule on humility has worked well as a guide and “spiritual manual[7]” facilitating personal and communal transformation within the Benedictine Order and others for well over 1500 years[8].

For the rest of the article see this link.

[1] Taylor, Barbara Brown. 2005. The Evils of Pride and Self-Righteousness. The Living Pulpit, October-December 2005:5.
[2] Morris, J. Andrew, Brotheridge, Céleste M., and Urbanski, John C. 2005. Bringing humility to leadership: Antecedents and consequences of leader humility. Human Relations, 58/10: 1323-1350.
[3] See Dickson, John P. and Rosner, Brian S. 2004. Humility as a Social Virtue in the Hebrew Bible? Vetus Testamentum LIV,4:459-479; and Elsberg, Robert. 2003. The Saints’ Guide to Happiness. New York: North Point Press.
[4] Collins, Jim. 2001. Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. Harvard Business Review, January: 66-76.
[5]Collins, Jim. 2001. Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. Harvard Business Review, January: 66-76.
[6] Cheline, Paschal G. 2003. Christian Leadership: A Benedictine Perspective. American Theological Library Association Summary of Proceedings 57:107-113.
[7] Waaijman, Kees. 2002. Spirituality: Forms, Foundations, Methods. Leuven: Peeters.
[8] Mitchell, Nathan D. 2008. Liturgy and Life: Lessons in Benedict. Worship 82/2:161-174.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Reflective Leadership

I read a wonderful article on the discipline of reflection and spiritual leadership this morning by Leonard Doohan in the 2007 edition of the International Journal of Servant-Leadership. Doohan proposes that the emerging, post-industrial, values-based models and theories of leadership are no longer based on knowledge, competence or even experience, but rather on critical reflection, imagination, and an openness to "the unknown, the unexpected, and unexplored." This is where the ancient Biblical devotional discipline of reflection offers a sound base for the reflective attention to that which is ultimately real. Who better than Thomas Merton to shape our understanding of how all of this works:

"Puritas cordis [purity of heart] means much more than moral or ascetic perfection. It is the end of a long process of spiritual transformation in which the soul, perfect in charity, detached from all created things, free from the movements of inordinate passion, is able to live absorbed in God, and is penetrated from time to time with vivid intuitions of His action, intuitions which plumb the depths of the divine mysteries, which "grasp" God in a secret and intimate experience not only of Who He is, but of what He is doing in the world. The [person] who is pure in heart not only knows God, the Absolute Being, pure Act, but knows Him as the Father of Lights, the Father of Mercies, Who has so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son for its Redemption. Such a [person] knows Him not merely by faith, not by theological speculation, but by intimate and incommunicable experience."

Thomas Merton. Bread in the Wilderness (New York: New Dimensions, 1953): 20-21
Leonard Doohan. Spiritual Leadership and Reflection. (International Journal of Servant-Leadership,2007) 285.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stirring Editorial from Charisma

Lee Grady wrote a deeply stirring editorial in a recent edition of Charisma. It confirms my growing persuasion that our failure to honor the Scriptural guidelines for ministers and ministry has led us down this path (Paul's injunctions against divorce and avarice). We need a renewal/revival back to the Gospel values of Christian marriage and financial simplicity.

Preparing for a Charismatic Meltdown

Three prominent charismatic ministries have suffered huge setbacks this month. What does this mean for our movement?

Foreclosure. Eviction. Bailouts. We’re hearing those terms a lot these days, and not just in the newspaper’s business section. In the last two weeks three charismatic churches that once enjoyed huge popularity have fallen on hard times.

In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church is facing foreclosure. The megachurch, which once attracted 23,000 worshipers and was heralded as one of the nation’s fastest-growing congregations, shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 that they were divorcing. On Nov. 4 their bank filed foreclosure proceedings and demanded immediate repayment of a $12 million loan on the property.

In Duluth, Georgia—northeast of Atlanta—sheriff’s deputies arrived at Global Destiny Ministries and ordered Bishop Thomas Weeks II to leave the property. According to documents filed in state court, Weeks—who divorced popular preacher Juanita Bynum in June—owed more than $511,000 in back rent to the building’s owners. He was escorted out of the building on Nov. 14 while a church service was in progress.

"The wrecking ball of heaven is swinging. It has come to demolish any work that has not been built on the integrity of His Word."

In another part of the Atlanta area, leaders of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill announced that their church is officially for sale. The massive Gothic building—which at one time housed one of the nation’s most celebrated charismatic churches, with a membership of 10,000—has slipped into disrepair after lurid sex scandals triggered a mass exodus. The church’s founder, Bishop Earl Paulk, has turned the 6,000-seat church (valued at $24.5 million) over to his son, Donnie Earl, who in recent years has abandoned orthodox Christian doctrines and embraced universalism.

In addition, the bank that called the loan on Without Walls also began foreclosure proceedings on its satellite campus in Lakeland, Florida. That massive campus with its 10,000-seat sanctuary was once known as Carpenter’s Home Church. Under the leadership of Assemblies of God pastor Karl Strader it enjoyed huge success, but its membership dwindled in the 1990s, and it was sold to the Whites in 2005.

A crisis hit Without Walls two years later when the Whites announced from their pulpit that they were divorcing. They did not give specific reasons, but Randy said he took “100 percent responsibility” for the breakup. He later told Charisma: “This was a decision of last resort after years of prayer and counseling.”

In the case of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill, many parishioners walked out 16 years ago when it became known that Earl Paulk and other staff members were involved in wife-swapping. Paulk created a bizarre culture of secrecy to cover the immorality, which included his affair with a sister-in-law—and resulted in the birth of Donnie Earl (who thought he was Earl Paulk’s nephew until last year). The church has only had a few hundred members in recent years.

Today, Donnie Earl has embraced the inclusionist doctrines of Oklahoma pastor Carlton Pearson, who left the faith in 2003 and was labeled a heretic by a group of African-American bishops the following year. The younger Paulk now preaches that all people, not just Christians, are saved. He told Charisma last week that the Cathedral “has expanded to include all of God’s creation—Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, gay, straight, etc.” And this distorted message is broadcast from a pulpit that hosted the premier leaders of the charismatic movement during the 1970s and 1980s.

Even before Weeks was charged with assaulting Bynum in a hotel parking lot in August 2007, the pastor of Global Destiny Ministries defiled his pulpit during a “Teach Me to Love You” marriage conference. He told married men they should use profanity during sex to heighten their experience, and he brought couples on stage to play a game in which men were asked to name their favorite female body parts.

Lord, help us.

Was it supposed to end like this? How did a movement that was at one time focused on winning people to Christ and introducing them to the power of the Holy Spirit end in such disgrace?

I hear the sound of bricks and steel beams crashing to the ground. The wrecking ball of heaven is swinging. It has come to demolish any work that has not been built on the integrity of God’s Word.

All of us should be trembling. God requires holiness in His house and truth in the mouths of His servants. He is loving and patient with our mistakes and weaknesses, but eventually, if there is no repentance after continual correction, His discipline is severe. He will not be mocked.

Romans 11:22 says: “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (NASB).

God is not married to our buildings. If He allowed foreign armies to burn Jerusalem and its glorious temple, He will also write “Ichabod” on the doors of churches where there is no repentance for compromise.

I pray the fear of God will grip our hearts until we cleanse our defiled pulpits. Let’s examine our hearts and our ministries. Let’s throw out the wood, hay and stubble and build on a sure and tested foundation. It is the only way to survive the meltdown.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Instrument to Measure the Impact of Hope in Strategic Plan Implementation

I had the privilege to work with several colleagues on an instrument to measure hope in organizations. It is published in the inaugural edition of the International Leadership Journal housed at Thomas Edison State College. The article is entitled:

"An Instrument to Measure the Impact of Hope in Strategic Plan Implementation." by Bruce Winston, Corné Bekker, Karen Cerff, Doug Eames, Martha Helland and Delicia Garnes.

This research study presents a 13-item instrument to measure the level of hope in employees relative to their belief in the positive outcome of strategic plans. The singlefactor scale has a Cronbach alpha of .912. The premise of the research is that people may be unwilling to invest time and effort into the implementation of strategic plans if they do not have hope/faith in the success of the plans. Theoretical support comes from Vroom’s expectancy theory, means efficacy theory, Porter’s value chain, and Snyder’s hope theory. The practical application of this study lies in the notion that it may be beneficial for leaders to understand the level of employees’ hope in the success of strategic plans before implementing those plans.

For the full paper see: http://www.tesc.edu/5947.php

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Christ Hymn as a Song for Leaders

Mark Hardgrove has an inspiring article in the Winter edition of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership:

Through the use of hymn and homology, as well as the rhetorical dramatic use of language, Paul is able to illustrate the appropriate attitude for the believer. He also provides, through the example of Christ, a rubric for Christian leadership: humility, selflessness, and servanthood. This approach stands in contrast to the prevailing cultural context of the recipients of the epistle, and continues to be a powerful statement on a leadership paradigm that challenges many traditional leadership models. A socio-rhetorical examination of the text reveals as many questions as answers. Those questions challenge the exegete to take a broader view that takes into consideration the implications of the text in light of the prevailing culture of Philippi in the first century, as well as that of the twenty-first century. This text, in light of contemporary culture, is a corrective comment for modern human leadership endeavors. download/print article

Monday, November 17, 2008

International Leadership Association Conference

I returned yesterday from the International Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California. This year's theme was "Global Leadership: Portraits of the Past, Visions for the Future." I had the privilege to present two papers on some of my current research in the recovery of a Biblical and values-based approach to Leadership:

"Towards an Indigenous, Values-based Leadership Approach in Southern Africa": Recent studies have highlighted the desperate need for indigenous, innovative, values-based leadership approaches in Southern Africa. This emerging, post-industrial paradigm of leadership has helped South Africans to start thinking of leadership as something that is done in community instead of the actions--and responsibility--of one privileged individual.

"The Turn to Spirituality and Historic Understandings of Spiritual Leadership."
The presenter will use Kees Waaijman’s matrix for defining spirituality to explore and discuss examples of spiritualities that include leadership as part of their inner values. Two established schools of spirituality, as they relate to spiritual leadership, will be discussed: the asceticism of early Egyptian monasticism and the kenotic mysticism of St. Francis of Assisi.

I was encouraged to see how many researchers and scholars are willing to explore the moral, if not spiritual base for leadership. Many new possibilities arose from these meetings. I remain deeply grateful for the opportunity to work and learn with these fellow-seekers.

Another treat was to work with Jan Spencer on a paper for this conference entitled:
"St. Francis of Assisi and Spiritual Leadership: Integrating Ancient Insights with Contemporary Practice for Greater Leadership Effectiveness."
Spirituality in the workplace is integrated with an historical/practical view of the life of St. Francis of Assisi in order to provide specific examples of how leaders lead an organization that ascribes to Jody Fry’s spiritual leadership theory and model. Each of the traits identified in spiritual leadership theory are defined—transcendent vision, hope/faith, altruistic love, calling, membership, and outcomes—and then discussed in terms of Francis’ example of spiritual leadership. Although 800 years separate Francis from modern research involving workplace spirituality, his inner life transformation and subsequent experiences involving the establishment of the Franciscan Order promote a dialogue about how workplace spirituality should be approached as well as what it will take in the life of the modern-day leader to enable spiritual leadership to function effectively.

Jan's poster presentation was one of the most beautiful and aesthetically moving ones I have seen in years.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Than Money - BK Life Book by Mark Albion

Interesting comments by Mark Albion. This could be a good foundation to explore the values of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in light of this.

A Couple of New Books

Two recent secular books have served to confirm my growing persuasion that there is a deep and wide shift occurring in the way that the world thinks about leadership. In the words of Jean Lipmen-Blumen: “…we finally begun to reexamine more critically our traditional concept of leadership. It is based on an outmoded ego ideal glorifying the competitive, combative, controlling, creative, aggressive, self-reliant individualists”. They are both worthwhile reads (the descriptions on each are from the dust covers of the books):

"Community: The Structure of Belonging" by Peter Block Modern society is characterized by isolation and a weakened social fabric. The various sectors of our communities—businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government—work in parallel, not in concert. They exist in their own worlds as do so many individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together.

We know what healthy communities look like—there are many success stories out there, and they've been described in detail. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation. How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.

"My intent" he writes, "is provide structural ways to create the experience of belonging, not just in those places where people come to just be together socially, but especially in places where we least expect it. This includes those places where people come together to get something done. These are our meetings, dialogues, conferences, planning processes––all those occasions where we gather to reflect on and decide the kind of future we want for ourselves."

Citizens have the power to change the community story and bring a new context into being. Block shows us how we can overcome isolation and anxiety and create communities alive with energy and possibility. This book is written to support those who care for the well being of their communities. It is for anyone who wants to be part of an organization, neighborhood, city, or country that works for all, and who have the faith and the energy to create such a place.

"More than Money" by Mark Albion

What are you going to do with your lucky lottery ticket? That’s a question every MBA faces. A lot of time and money has been invested in you, and once you graduate you’re supposed to cash that ticket in for as much money and status as you can. Your parents and peers expect it. And you may feel that there’s really no other choice. You can’t risk wasting that expensive education. It’s the safe thing to do. Isn’t it?Not necessarily.

Mark Albion doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but his unique perspective can help you find yours. There are other ways to look at potential risks and rewards, even when you have thousands of dollars of student loans to pay back. Money is important but it’s not the key to fulfillment. The “safe” choice, the most monetarily rewarding one, can carry enormous psychological and spiritual pain.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Sometimes money costs too much.”In More Than Money, Albion redefines the typical way the risk/reward equation is written, using his own life story and those of the many entrepreneurs, executives and MBAs he’s met as both cautionary and inspirational tales. He introduces a framework of four crucial questions to consider when thinking about your career choices, as well as “lifelines," principles that can help you answer these questions and guide you to construct your personal, strategic destiny plan.

A consciousness-raising book as well as a career guide, More Than Money encourages MBA students to give themselves permission to be who they really want to be and find their path of service. For, as Albion says, in the end “we won't remember you for the size of your wallet as much as the size of your heart.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Two New Monographs on Aspects of Pauline Leadership

I recently reviewed two new monographs on aspects of Pauline Leadership for Religious Studies Review. They are both worthwhile reads and go along way to providing a base for our continued quest to Biblically redefine Christian Leadership. Here are two short excerpts from my reviews:

Paul and Conflict Resolution: An Exegetical Study of Paul's Apostolic Paradigm in 1 Corinthians 9. By Robinson Butarbutar. Paternoster Biblical Monographs. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2007. Pp. xviii + 275. Paper, $33.99, ISBN 978-1-84227-315-9.

Little scholarly attention has been given to conflict resolution models used in First-Century Mediterranean Christian communities. Butarbutar’s monograph bridges this gap in the literature and provides an erudite foundational work on this topic by examining Paul's apostolic paradigm in 1 Corinthians 9 through a detailed literary and historical exegesis of this pericope. This study defines and locates the argumentative rhetoric of Paul in the larger scope of Paul's unified arguments in 1 Corinthians 8-10, that sought to mediate in the cultural disputes in the Corinthian Christian communities. Butarbutar demonstrates that the conflict resolution model evident in this text is further evident in Paul's rhetoric of refusing to accept financial support from his audience. The monographs concludes by comparing and contrasting this Pauline conflict resolution model with contemporary approaches in Christian communities and argues for the serious reconsideration of Paul’s approach to conflict.

Saint Paul as Spiritual Director: An Analysis of the Concept of the Imitation of Paul with Implications and Applications to the Practice of Spiritual Direction. By Victor A. Copan. Paternoster Biblical Monographs. Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press, 2007. Pp. 342. Paper, $40.00, ISBN 978-1-55635-661-2.

Recent scholarly and popular-press descriptions of spiritual direction have widely disagreed on the nature, theories and applications of this age-old ministry of spiritual formation. It has been become evident to scholars and practitioners alike that a return to a serious re-examination of the Biblical roots of spiritual direction is what is needed. Cohan’s well-written and critical monograph seeks to provide a first step in a contemporary re-evaluation of the Apostle Paul’s approach to spiritual direction and formation. This study uses a case study approach exploring the social, cultural and spiritual functions of Paul as spiritual director in the various Christian communities that he founded along the Mediterranean Sea. Emphasis is placed in this study on Paul’s understanding, aims and praxis of spiritually forming his follower. Cohan concludes by drawing parallels to contemporary approaches of spiritual direction.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New Edition for Inner Resources for Leaders

The new edition of Inner Resources for Leaders was released yesterday. I contributed a popular-press article on St. Benedict's rule on Leadership humility: http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/innerresources/

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Leadership Conversion

Louise Kretzschmar approaches the study of Christian Leadership from the perspective of a Christian ethicists and philosopher. Set in the context of the moral failures of apartheid leaders in South Africa, Kretzschmar process description of leadership “conversion” that could produce “moral leadership.” Building in the insights of Franciscan spirituality, Kretzschmar invites discussion concerning five distinct elements in the moral formation of Christian leaders:
· Intellectual Conversion. Christian Leaders “constantly rethink or evaluate” their own and others “moral framework” and this involves the disciplines of “self-awareness and critique” in order to develop the virtue of prudence (correct judgment).
· Affective Conversion. Christian Leaders have a high regard for othokardia (right heartedness towards God). Leaders consider the ultimate location of their affections and adopt ascetic disciplines (such as the traditional Monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) to guide their hearts back to God.
· Volitional Conversion. Christian Leaders seek to have a “redeemed human will” that moves from willfulness (identified as arrogant self-sufficiency) to willingness (described as flexible receptivity).
· Relational Conversion. A Christian Leader’s “moral conscience” is formed and challenged in community. Christian Leaders engage in “moral relational power” that brings personal and communal transformation to perceptions and applications of leadership.
· Moral Action. The intellectual, affective, volitional and relational conversions of Christian Leaders result in “moral action” that facilitates the wider conversion of the world in which these leaders operate.

Kretzschmar’s work provides an erudite base for the inclusion of moral theology and spiritual formational studies to the ongoing quest to define Christian Leadership. It deepens the discussion from mere concern of leadership effectiveness to the moral dimensions of personal and communal leadership.

Kretzschmar, L. (2002). Authentic Christian Leadership and Spiritual Formation in Africa. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 113:41-60.
Kretzschmar, L. (2007). The Formation of Moral Leaders in South Africa: A Christian-Ethical Analysis of Some Essential Elements. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 128:18-36.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Merton on Self-knowledge and Knowing God

Do you want to know God? Then learn to understand the weaknesses and imperfections of [others]. But how can you understand the weaknesses of others unless you understand your own? And how can you see the meaning of your own limitations until you have received mercy from God, by which you know yourself and Him? It is not sufficient to forgive others: we must forgive them with humility and compassion. If we forgive them without humility, our forgiveness is a mockery: it presupposes that we are better than they.

Thomas Merton. No Man Is An Island. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1955: 163.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Richard Foster on Leadership

Leadership is an act of submission to God. To be a leader means listening to all kinds of people and situations. Out of that listening, we are hoping to discern the mind of God as best we can. This is the price of leadership—it's an act of sacrifice. So leadership is part and parcel of the work of submission to God.

I could be perfectly happy to go up into those mountains and disappear. But at least up to this point, that has not been my lot. There is a sense of call to take leadership roles. You're serving people and submitting to God as best you can.

We all learn submission because we all have "bosses," whether we're presidents of companies or not. The easiest place to learn it is in family. Paul's words were, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ"—there is subordination, husband and wife, parent and child. We're doing that all of the time, looking to the needs of our spouse or our children, even though we have to make certain kinds of decisions they may not like. It's an act of submission to help.

I think of Pope Gregory the Great. He wanted the cloister. He wanted to pray and study, and yet he was thrust into this administrative job, and he submitted to that. And in that submission, he became a great leader. You could say that the only person who is safe to lead is the person who is free to submit.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Journal in Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership is at the forefront of the newest online journal published by Regent University's School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship (GLE).

Launched in early September, the Journal of Strategic Leadership (JSL) is led by the school's dean, Dr. Bruce E. Winston, and provides a forum for leadership practitioners and students around the world—publishing articles that address applied topics of strategic leadership at all levels within a variety of industries and organizations. The published work reflects the top papers submitted by Doctor of Strategic Leadership students and graduates.

"We believe that students studying strategic leadership have something of value to offer the leadership academy and have produced the JSL as a logical outcome of this belief," said Dr. Winston. To stimulate scholarly debate and a free flow of ideas, JSL is published in electronic format and provides public access to all issues free of charge.

To learn more about the Journal of Strategic Leadership and to register for a free subscription, visit www.regent.edu/jsl

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Regent University to Co-host International Spirituality and Leadership Conference in India

Regent University's School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship will co-host the 2nd International Conference on Integrating Spirituality and Organizational Leadership February 9-12, 2009, at the University of Pondicherry in Pondicherry, India.

Conducted in English, this conference strives to bring together different perspectives, disciplines and spiritual traditions as leading scholars from the USA, Europe and Asia systematically explore the nature, determination and implications of the spiritual dimensions of organizational leadership.

Those wishing to present at the conference must submit their proposals for poster presentations or abstracts for oral presentations by November 30, 2008. Notifications of acceptance will be provided by December 15, 2008. Full papers will then be due by January 15, 2009.

A pre-conference International Research Workshop on Spiritual and Ethical Foundations of Organizational Development will be held February 5-7 and will provide an opportunity for scholars to discuss on-going or proposed research projects and form collaborative relationships aimed at building a formal research base addressing multiple aspects of spirituality in organizations. Workshop participants will present their projects and studies in a roundtable format.

Those wishing to present in the pre-conference workshop must submit their abstracts by November 30, 2008. Notification of acceptance will be provided by December 15, 2008. Full papers will then be due by January 15, 2009

For more information and to register online for the 2nd International Conference on Integrating Spirituality and Organizational Leadership, go to: www.regent.edu/global/conferences

Waiting In Silence

I have not blogged for a while. It has been a real busy time as we finish the semester here at Regent and I recover from an extended travel schedule during the summer months. I have been thinking about the value of silence, rest and stillness. Here is a small section from Thomas Merton on the value of these age-old and devotional disciplines:

“Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence, an expectancy... In other words, the true contemplative is not the one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect or anticipate the world that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and when he is ‘answered,’ it is not so much by a world that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.”

Thomas Merton. Contemplative Prayer. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1969: 90