Friday, September 28, 2007

Take a risk with Jesus

The following is an inspiring blog entry from John Michael Talbot's blog:


Luke 7:36-50If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is that touches him - that she is a sinner. v. 39 Are we like Jesus, allowing ourselves to be touched, kissed, even washed by the tears of sinners? Do we look beyond the externals of morality, culture, and religion to the heart? Do we judge and condemn or practice mercy and justice?


The Pharisees provided no water for Jesus to wash his dusty feet, no kiss of greeting, and no perfumed oil of anointing. Despite their rigorous religious exercises, they were sensitive neither to Jesus nor to a sincere repentant sinner. The woman was a known sinner, yet she experienced a radical change of heart. From her repentant heart, tears flowed and fell upon the feet of Jesus. Where she once embraced and caressed men for profit, she instead wiped Jesus’ feet and anointed his head out of reverence. These external acts are made holy because of her change of heart.


Jesus responded to the Pharisees criticism by saying, "I tell you, that is why her many sins are forgiven - because of her great love. Little is forgiven the one whose love is small ... Your faith has been your salvation." In this, Jesus directly connects faith and love. "God is love, wrote John. Likewise, the book of James reminds us that true religion consists of "looking after orphans and widows and keeping oneself unspotted from the world." How can one look after orphaned children and widowed women and mothers without having their hearts moved? The world tells us to look out for yourselves while James said we must not be defiled by the self-centeredness that hardens the human heart.“Love covers a multitude of sins,” says the proverb. So today let us be people of human love if we profess true faith in God. Today look to the sinner: the prostitute, the whore, the drug addict, and let your heart be moved. Treasure their tears, let them anoint your head. Let them kiss you and touch your life. Ironically, you might find your own life "cleansed" by the "unclean," and your openness may be the door to their salvation.

Take a risk with Jesus.

- John Michael Talbot

To read more from John Michael Talbot see:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Leader as Spiritual Director

Lately, I have been taken with the idea that the basic premise of the discipline of spiritual directing could be a good metaphor to explore the intersection of leadership and spiritual formation. Barry and Connelly's definition for Spiritual Direction might be a good place to start:

"We define Christian spiritual direction as help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship."

Barry and Connelly's good definition reminds me of a description I once read of the ministry of the Old Testament Prophet, where the purpose of the prophet was to recapture the imagination of God's People back to Him. Christian leaders get the attention of those that follow and lead them back into the presence of God.

William A. Barry and William J. Connelly, The Practice of Spiritual Direction (New York: Seabury, 1982)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Leadership in the Love of God

"And today God keeps on loving the world. He keep on sending you and me to prove that He loves the world, that He still has that compassion for the world. It is we who have to be His love, His compassion in the world of today. But to be able to love we must have faith, for faith in action is love, and love in action is service."
- Teresa of Calcutta

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Giving all to Jesus

I recently finished the newly published book on the private writings of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. What struck me was her complete and total determination to offer her whole life as a sacrifice to God. There is story towards the end of the book where one of the missionary sisters in her community witnessed the following a few days before the death of Mother Teresa: "I saw Mother alone, facing....a picture of the Holy Face....and she was saying, 'Jesus, I never refuse you anything.' I thought she was talking to someone. I went in again. Again I heard the same: 'Jesus, I have never refused you anything.'"

May we learn to give all that we have in obedience to Him. Nothing less could be called authentic Christian Leadership.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Creativity, Tribulation and Virtue in Leadership

Jackie Faulhaber's sacred texture analysis of 1 Peter in the New Edition of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL) explores the interaction between virtue, tribulation and creativity in leadership.

The abstract of Faulhaber's paper reads as follows:
"God’s strategy to diffuse Christianity in vacillating economic, political, and economic environments is creative and reflects his nature to work in inexplicit and paradoxical ways. In a sacred textual analysis of 1 Peter, employing the exegetical strategies of socio-rhetorical criticism, it is proposed that God uses tribulation and trials to effect individual and collective transformation. This transformative process, predicated on a believer’s grateful response to grace, produces organizational cooperation over competition, forgiveness over grudges, and harmony over discord, which is necessary to attain moral excellence and the good relationships needed for creating innovative organizations that require ongoing renewal for today’s turbulent environments that organizations face. This essay further focuses on the nuances of spiritual transformation and character development, a process similar to that noted by Paul in Romans 5:3-6. It also focuses on the creative tools Peter uses, such as metaphors and opposites, to teach the requisites for spiritual formation/character development, as well as transformational leadership used by Peter in seeking to transform the Christian community toward moral excellence."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Martyriological Model of Leadership

Jack Niewold's paper, entitled "Beyond Servant Leadership," in the new edition of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL) makes a good case for a renewed and determined examination of our models of Christians Leadership in the light of the sacrifice of Christ and his early followers.

The abstract of the paper reads as follows:
I argue that the servant leadership model that has been widely adopted by Christians has not been an unmixed blessing. Servant leadership in its secular form is based on non-Christian secular and religious ideas. But even in its Christianized form it is reflective of a heterodox and distorted Christology, which it in turn helps to perpetuate. I attempt to identify the elements of Christology that modern evangelicalism and its version of servant leadership neglect. Next, I endeavor to rehabilitate these neglected aspects of Christology in order to formulate a new model of leadership that I call martyria, a biblical term that I briefly explicate. Following a short exercise where I speculate what martyria might look like today, I argue that it is within this new martyriological model of leadership that the servant motif finds its true home. The implication is that when servanthood is lifted from its matrix as adjunct to martyria and permitted to usurp a central role in leadership formation, the result is weak leadership ill-suited to the exigencies of our time. Martyrological or witness-based leadership, on the other hand, contains the role of servant, but is much better suited in critical ways to the present historical kairos.

For the full article, see:

Picture by Leon Gerome

Friday, September 21, 2007

Upper Echelons Theory at work in the Church in Ephesus

Gail Longbotham and Ben Gutierrez have an article in the current issue of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership on upper echelons theory and the church in Ephesus. The abstract of this paper reads as follows:

This study relates Proposition 21 of Hambrick and Mason’s (1984) Upper Echelons Theory (UET) to Paul and Timothy’s leadership of the Ephesian church. Proposition 21 states, “In turbulent environments, team heterogeneity will be positively associated with profitability.” Using the texts of Acts, Ephesians, and I and II Timothy, this study demonstrates the merit of this proposition as evidenced in the historical, ministry context of Paul and Timothy as a leadership team in the turbulent environment of the first century and provides rationale for translating these concepts into a contemporary ministry context. A brief sketch of Paul and Timothy’s personal backgrounds (birthplace, family, education, and conversion experience) and leadership experiences provides evidence for the heterogeneity of their leadership relationship. Evidence of heresy and persecution support the contention that theirs was a turbulent environment. The conduct of the Ephesian church in the years after the instruction (documented in Acts, Ephesians, and I and II Timothy) and leadership of Paul and Timothy provides supporting evidence of the profitability of that leadership. A summary of the study, its benefits, and suggestions for future research conclude this study.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What would Jesus Lead?

Jay Gary's paper in the new edition of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL) is entitled: "What would Jesus lead: Identity theft, leadership evolution and open systems."

Here is the abstract of the paper:

Recent discussions of “What would Jesus drive?” by environmental groups have raised the issue of whether Jesus of Nazareth would embrace the industrial growth paradigm. This paper evaluates this public policy debate by examining various leadership typologies that have been used to study Jesus. Drawing upon Daft’s four-cell evolutionary theory of leadership studies, this paper lays out an open systems and post-industrial research agenda for leadership scholars as they examine Jesus’ actions within a first-century context.

Check out Jay Gary's site:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Second Edition of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL)

It is with great joy that I can announce that second edition of the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL) is finished and have gone "live" on the web today. This edition of JBPL contains a wide variety of views and approaches in our common quest to explore leadership perspectives in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. It is our hope that the articles in this edition will serve to further extend the base for rigorous and well-grounded exegetical research in leadership.

I want to thank the members of our international editorial board for their continued guidance and hard work. I also want to thank the dean and faculty of the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship at Regent University for their continued interests and support of the journal.

We welcome any comments, suggestions, and correspondence from our readers. I look forward with great anticipation to our continued interaction.
Peace and all good,
Corne J. Bekker
Editor of JBPL

Here is a link to online version of the Journal:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In the Footsteps of Saints Benedict, Francis and Clare of Assisi 2008

In the Footsteps of Benedict, Francis and Clare of Assisi Italy June 20-29, 2008

If you have a passion for discovery, consider joining us for an incredible learning journey as we retrace the footsteps of the Saint Benedict, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare of Assisi. This Study Abroad program, offered by the Regent University School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship, will take you to some of the most significant sites of our Christian history and examine, firsthand, the dynamics that changed the world .
  • Retrace the footsteps of the Saint Benedict, Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare of Assissi
  • Explore key historic sites through private tours.
  • Examine biblical perspectives, archaeology, theology, religion, humanities and the arts.
  • Gain spiritual insights and a deeper understanding of biblical leadership and its contemporary applications.
  • Enjoy the program as a leisure traveler or enroll for optional graduate-level credit (M.A. or Ph.D.).

For the first few years, the Leadership Study Abroad Program concentrated on the work, ministries, and leadership of the Apostle Paul in Asia Minor and Greece, covering most of the sites of Paul's first, second and third missionary journeys. The 2008 PROGRAM brings us to Italy, where we will walk in the Footsteps of Saints Benedict, Francis and Clare of Assisi.

The Entrepreneurs Guild

Entrepreneurs are drivers of the world economy. They are more than owners of businesses, they are innovators and, in many ways, trailblazers in commerce and industry. Within the many successes and failures are their stories. The Entrepreneurs' Guild seeks to tell those stories through a values-based worldview and, in turn, provide a stage for learning, dialogue and advancement of social business practice.

The [e] guild is co-hosted by Distinguished Professor and former Regent University President David Gyertson, Ph.D. and Regent Global Business Review Editor Julianne Cenac. Each digitally recorded program features leading and emergent entrepreneurs in dynamic and engaging interviews to uncover each guest's unique path to success.

The following notes is from Julianne Cenac, who oversees the work of the Guild:


I am excited to announce the upcoming fall series of the Entrepreneurs' Guild October 8-10th, 2007. Guests include: Pilar Nores de Garcia, First Lady of Peru; Ogbonna Abarikwu, CEO of CK Engineering, and Dr. M. G. "Pat" Robertson.

The Entrepreneurs' Guild is the vision of Dr. Winston and features leading and emerging entrepreneurs who have successfully integrated their faith in creating, launching and sustaining innovative ventures. Each program is digitally recorded before a live studio audience and will be available for viewing on the Entrepreneurs' Guild website.

While the website is being updated to include all the programs from the summer series, please click on the following link to view the outstanding interview with David Gyertson and Michael Louis of South Africa:

To reserve your seat(s) for the current program series, visit the Entrepreneurs' Guild website at:

In His Service,
Julianne Cenan"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Giving Ourselves to God

"If I am to know the will of God, I must have the right attitude toward life. I must first of all know what life is, and to know the purpose of my existence. It is all very well to declare that I exist in order to have my soul saveed and to give glory to God by doing so. And it is all very well to say that, in order to do this, I obey certain commandments and keep certain counsels. Yet knowing this much, and indeed knowing all moral theology and ethics and canon law, I might still go through life conforming myself to certain indications of God's will without ever fully giving myself to God. For that, in the last analysis, is the real meaning of His will. He does not need our sacrifices, He asks for our selves. And if He prescribes certain acts of obedience, it is not because obedience is the beginning and the end of end of everything. It is only the beginning. Charity, divine union, transformation in Christ: these are the end."
- Thomas Merton. No Man Is An Island. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1955: 63.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Response to a Comment on Yesterday's blog

I normally do not respond to comments left on this blog, but I would like to comment on an anonymous and good response to yesterday’s blog. It is a great joy that we can interact and learn from one another – so I offer my small contribution to this well thought-through response. The measure of success in leadership that yesterday’s response to my blog proposes - the quality of relationships build with God and others - is precisely the transformation of leadership values that Nouwen hopes for and proposes in his little, provocative book. A close reading of Nouwen will reveal that he does not propose that leadership should not be relevant, spectacular or heroic: it is the desperate temptations to be relevant (in Nouwen’s Dutch-informed sense of writing – a desire to play to the whims and movements of the market), spectacular and powerful that he identifies as the main temptations for those who lead. These are the temptations that often lead to the kind of dysfunctional and ineffective leadership that all of us have witnessed too well. For Nouwen obedience to God equals effective Christian leadership, authentic leadership in the Name of Jesus – and this could end up being very relevant, quite spectacular and full of the right kind of power – but those leadership results are ultimately the work of God. Nouwen’s genius lies in his understanding that authentic leadership cannot start with those desires – it has to start with the determined commitment to follow God – and to leave the effects of that leadership to Him. For too long have we located the phenomena of leadership solely in the person of the leader. I would propose that leadership is much more complex that the desires and actions of one person (as good, needed and intentional as they might be) – at minimum any talk of Christian leadership should include the serious consideration of the empowering presence of God, the community, context, organization, mission and followers. Nouwen proposes in a very simple way, based on his reading of the last chapter of John’s Gospel (21), that the phenomena of leadership includes and depends upon these above-mentioned constituents.

Does Nouwen’s small book on Christian leadership address all the philosophical or Biblical elements necessary to construct an adequate theory for Christian Leadership? I do not think so. But this book, written in the early 1980’s does open the door to start to examine what a communal, values-based approach to leadership could look like. Nouwen is no longer alone in his call to a values-based approach to leadership (one could consider the work of Robert Greenleaf, Richard Barker and even the most recent writings of Bernard Bass for a few examples of this). Leadership scholars world-wide has proposed that a shift is occurring in our understanding of leadership and that this new, emerging, post-industrial paradigm of leadership has helped leaders to start to think of leadership as something that is done in community instead of the acts of one privileged and empowered individual. This paradigm shift from extreme individualism to perspectives in communal leadership is a global phenomena and is contrasted by Jean Lipmen-Blumen (Thorton F. Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Drucker School of Leadership) with the individualistic, competitive leadership approaches of the past: “…we finally began 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 individualist…”

I fully agree that Bruce Winston’s concept of Agapao love as the prime motivator of Christian leadership, is the closest we have come so far to describe this values-driven approach (and in my reading to the concepts Nouwen describes): doing the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time, to the right people will result in authentic Christian leadership that might very well turn out to be spectacularly relevant and powerful – but those results are God’s work, our work is to be obedient to the call to lead in the Name of Jesus.
I would also confess that Nouwen's three temptations: the temptations to be the person of the hour that is known for his spectacular and powerful personage and leadership are all temptations that I can deeply relate to.
Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leadership in the Name of Jesus

I struggle with the shameless pride and determined self-promotion that so often accompany those of us who present ourselves as "leadership gurus". Am I tempted by the "style over substance" stance that leadership simply equals influence? Where are we leading people to? Henri Nouwen's little book on Christian Leadership, "In the Name of Jesus" remains one of the few voices that calls for a renewed commitment to authentic leadership.

Jeanné Morson's review of Nouwen's book summarizes his most important thoughts:

"The increasing trend of many individuals seeking to nurture their leadership skills is to submit to the motivational gurus who preach well-packaged and dramatically staged formulas for success. The quest for self-direction, personal efficiency and effective leadership habits, however, still leaves many individuals empty over the long run. The late Henry Nouwen provides the link that is essential for those individuals who not only seek effective leadership skills but an approach that is consistent with their Christian identity. IN THE NAME OF JESUS provides a foundational understanding of effective leadership that centres itself in Christ. Any proposal of personal leadership styles that negate or avoid this authentic presence can offer only a partial definition of what genuine leadership and effectiveness is.

Where leadership gurus talk about an individual's internalized habits and methods of empowerment, Henri Nouwen begins his reflections on Christian leadership with a focus on the collective. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people 'called'. He acknowledges that it is the real presence of the Holy Spirit who motivates us toward a life that is lived not merely 'with' but 'for' others. This adds a distinctively unique layer to general leadership principles that tend to focus on an individualistic perspective. Nouwen's understanding of leadership is other-centred as opposed to self-centered; it is communal as opposed to individual. Skills are not what 'build me up' as a good leader, but what 'build us up' as a community.

Nouwen regards self-actualization -- that desire to be relevant, spectacular, heroic or powerful -- as a temptation. Leadership is not so much about personal effectiveness and success as it is about one's vocation to proclaim in the word and witness of one's life that God's redemptive presence continues to manifest itself even in the ordinary events of our lives. This emphasizes that it is not so much about what we do or who we are in terms of social labels, but our capacity to reveal WHOSE we are in the way we choose to live out our relationships and involve ourselves with the others in our community. According to Henri Nouwen, all principles by which we live, whether it be honesty, integrity, integrity, fairness, excellence, service, etc., pale in their capacity for effectiveness if LOVE is not at the root of them. Love is the first principle and finds its origin in what Nouwen refers to as God's first love - that creative extension of God's self into the life of the world. Stripped of all the criteria that made him relevant, spectacular and powerful, Nouwen discovered at l'Arche a deeper well-spring with which to identify his contributions as a Christian leader: "Success was putting my soul in constantly changing involvement in what seemed most urgent were signs that the Spirit was being suppressed." (P.10) Nouwen invites the Christian leader to nurture her/his spirit by contemplative prayer so that "we can keep ourselves from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from being strangers to our own and God's heart." (p.28) Nouwen defines this balance as something attainable when one responds in the affirmative to Jesus' question: Do you love me?

For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a "communal and mutual experience". (p.40) He reflects on the success of Jesus' disciples who were sent out in twos to proclaim the good news: Christian leaders are called to live the Incarnation...not only in their own body but... the corporate body of the community, and to discover there the presence of the Holy Spirit. (p.48) For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community.Like other types of leadership, Christian leadership too can get tangled in the charisma of a high profile individual who has all the skills to function well and be effective within the community. Nouwen challenges all Christian leaders to function WITH and FOR their particular community, not in the radiance of their own name and reputation but IN THE NAME OF JESUS. "

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Unmasked Leadership

"Our media are saturated with images of individuals wearing the mask of 'all togetherness'. I rub shoulders daily with people quick to reassure me of the unreality 'I'm fine, thanks'. I find myself trapped in a superficial community, stuffed in my self-imposed cocoon of fear and shame, afraid to admit my brokenness and weakness. I can't face the possibility of rejection and loss, not making the cut, not fitting in. To break out of this prison, we are invited into the honesty of becoming vulnerable. Vulnerability dismantles our obsession with getting it right.

As I take off the mask of 'all togetherness', I discover a vast world of freedom. In my vulnerability, I become accessible to fellow companions on the journey. My vulnerability invites others in, offers understanding and empathy, but also can be a cry for help. Even though vulnerability's path is often painful, its reward of deepening intimacy is welcome. Being vulnerable opens my heart to a larger worldview. I become free to explore beyond the exhausting self-focus of supporting my false image of 'OKness'. I find myself challenged to deeper transparency as I sing along with Leonard Cohen 'Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in'."

- Steve Imbach (A Spiritual Director with Soul Stream in the Vancouver Area)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gentle Leadership

"Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

"Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick" (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let's dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us."

~Henri Nouwen

Friday, September 07, 2007

Leadership Wisdom from Unlikely Voices

I am rereading Dave Fleming's book, "Leadership Wisdom from Unlikely Voices." It is excellent and practical exploration of the leadership wisdom that the leaders from Church History offer us. Fleming surveys leaders such as Francis of Assisi, Augustine, Hildagard of Bingen and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It is a worthwhile read.

Here is a link to Fleming's website:

And his blog:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Privilege of Focus

“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end.
Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creature.

What you are in His sight is what you are and nothing more.

Remember that when you leave this earth,

you can take with you nothing that you have received

– fading symbols of honor, trappings of power

– but only what you have given:

a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”

– Francis of Assisi (1182-1226 AD)