Monday, October 29, 2007

Love as the Source for Leadership

The following from Merton had me rethinking the importance of love as the base for all authentic forms of leadership. Merton asks for a redefinition of love in our consumerist society - I could not agree more:

"Psychologists have had some pretty rough things to say about the immaturity and narcissism of love in our marketing society, in which it is reduced to a purely egotistical need that cries out for immediate satisfaction or manipulates others more or less cleverly in order to get what it wants. But the plain truth is this: love is not a matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary. The insistence on always having what you want, on always being satisfied, on always being fulfilled, makes love impossible. To love you have to climb out of the cradle, where everything is 'getting,' and grow up to the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return. Love is not a deal, it is a sacrifice. It is not marketing, it is a form of worship.

In reality, love is a positive force, a transcendent spiritual power. It is, in fact, the deepest creative power in human nature. Rooted in the biological riches of our inheritance, love flowers spiritually as freedom and as a creature response to life in a perfect encounter with another person. It is a living appreciation of live as value and as gift. It responds to the full richness, the variety, the fecundity of living experience itself: it "knows" the inner mystery of life. It enjoys life as an inexhaustible fortune. Love estimates this fortune in a way that knowledge could never do. Love has its own wisdom, its own science, its own way of exploring the inner depths of life in the mystery of the loved person. Love knows, understands and meets the demands of life insofar as it responds with warmth, abandon and surrender."

Thomas Merton. "Love and Need" in Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, editors. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979: 30-31

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Leadership: Impact, Culture and Sustainability

The International Leadership Association's Conference (ILA) will take place next week in Vancouver, Canada. I have three papers that have been accepted for this conference:

Leading from the Desert: The Christian Monastery as a Spiritual Organization (Thursday, November 1):
This presentation builds on the ancient wisdom of the beginnings of Christian monasticism and illustrates the principles of building healthy and effective spiritually-based organizations led by integrated and grounded leaders.

Leadership Sins: Towards an Understanding of Leadership Failure (Friday, November 2):
Applying insights drawn from the philosophical and ontological exploration of sin in the early Christian Monastic traditions to contemporary leadership contexts provides leadership scholars and practitioners with a conceptual base to locate and identify the contributing factors of moral failure in leadership. This allows the possibility for strategically constructing programs and environments that will facilitate the formation of moral leadership in organizations.

Exegetical Assignments as a Form of Spiritual Formation (Friday, November 2):
This study examined the use of structured social-rhetorical exegetic assessments in two on-line doctoral programs, offered by the same school, as a means of stimulating spiritual growth and formation. The article presents background information on the five exegetical analysis phases of: (a) inner-textural, (b) inter-textural, (c) social-cultural, (d) ideological, and (e) sacred followed by the presentation of data collected from 31 doctoral students spanning two cohorts of both a PhD and applied doctoral programs. The data shows conclusively that the students perceive a positive impact on their spiritual formation through the use of the five exegetical assessments. The recommendation of the study is that Christian schools should consider the use of similar exegetic assessments as a means of helping students grow spiritually.

I have also been asked to fill in for a presenter on another panel and will present a recent paper:
The Role of Religion in Economic Development: A Case Study exploring the use of Religion in the Societal and Economic Transformation of the early Matthean Christian Communities (Saturday, November 3):
A recent study proposes that religious activities and beliefs are exogenous or independent variables in political and economic development. This study further shows that the interactions between religion and political economy generally involve two causal directions: economic and political development affects religiosity and on the other side, religious beliefs and activities influence economic performance. It is the second causal direction between religion and economic development, described above, that interests me as a scholar with interests in both the fields of theology and leadership studies. Thus, this paper seeks to describe the role of religion in economic development by exploring the use of religious knowledge to facilitate societal and economic transformation in the early Christian communities in which the Gospel of Matthew was produced.

Louis Morgan on Pentecostal History

One of our PhD students in Organizational Leadership, Louis Morgan, is the author of the cover article in next month's Charisma Magazine. The article is entitled "The Flame still burns" and is on the history of the Pentecostal church, the Church of God in Christ. Morgan writes: "One hundred years ago a son of slaves brought the Pentecostal message to African Americans in the South. Today, the Church of God in Christ is poised to spread the gospel worldwide." The article can be read at:

Congratulations Louis!
Link to Louis Morgan's blog:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jay Gary on Forgiveness in Leadership

A good friend and colleague of mine, Jay Gary presented an excellent paper on the role of forgiveness in leadership at the recent "Bridging Sunday and Monday" Conference in Seattle. Here is an abstract of the paper:

"A recent leadership survey found that ‘mending relationships’ was considered a vital skill of effective leadership, rising above three skills previously ranked highest: individual resourcefulness, decisiveness and doing what it takes. Can workplace forgiveness help mend relationships that have once been breached? What leadership theories view forgiveness as central to their theories? How do Christ-centered leaders embed a culture of forgiveness, especially in publicly held companies where religious and non-religious employees work side by side? This chapter examines how Christian leaders can draw upon the power of forgiveness to counter workplace dehumanization. It unfolds under five topics: (a) the construct of forgiveness (b) the leadership traditions that encompass forgiveness, (c) the developmental nature of forgiveness, (d) the research and measurements of forgiveness, and (e) how leaders can use interventions to cultivate an organizational culture of forgiveness."

Jay's paper make a significant contribution to our common quest to explore what an authentic Christian and compassionate approach to leadership could look like. His website can be seen at:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

John Michael Talbot on "Standing for Jesus"

This has been a real busy time for me - but I wanted to post a short section from John Michael Talbot's blog that really touched home for me today:

Luke 12:8-12: "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men - the Son of Man will acknowledge him before the angels of God. v. 8"

The world seldom speaks of Christ except to use his name in vain. Jesus is no longer found on the front page of popular magazines as he was during the days of the Jesus Movement. Today the world is preoccupied with the pragmatic realities of political power and money. It takes courage to stand up for the real Jesus of Bethlehem and Calvary, born in a shepherd's stable and crucified on a criminal's cross. It is not easy to stand up for the poor, or to give one's life for those treated unjustly by the political systems of the world.

We may feel at a loss when asked to explain the way of Jesus. How can we put into limited words an infinite Living Word proclaimed throughout eternity? Paul said, "I did not come proclaiming God's testimony with any particular eloquence or wisdom ... my message and my preaching had none of the persuasive force of wise argumentation, but the convincing power of the Spirit." As Jesus tells us in today's gospel, "The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment all that should be said."

We need not win an argument. We need only proclaim the simple message of Jesus. "The word of God will not return void," said Isaiah the prophet. Speak in clear simplicity and confidence. Let the Spirit do the rest. You may not win the intellectual argument, but you will win the spiritual battle for the soul! As Socrates wrote, "Just because you win an argument does not mean you possess the truth."Do we rely on the power of the Spirit when we share about Jesus with others? Do we share in the Spirit, or simply argue with the mind? The Spirit leads to humility and gentleness, while the mind only leads to presumption and pride. Do not be afraid. God will use your simple testimony and your personal story to evangelize even the powerful of this world.

- John Michael Talbot
Here is a link to JMT's blog:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

First Annual Roundtables of Contemporary Research & Practice

Regent University's School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship will host the 2008 Annual Roundtables of Contemporary Research & Practice conference on May 15-16, 2008, at The Founders Inn & Spa in Virginia Beach, Va.

Throughout this two-day event designed to facilitate interaction, learning and collegiality in a cordial environment, participants from around the world will gather to discuss contemporary research in the areas of global leadership and entrepreneurship.

The featured guest, Dr. Warren Bennis, will speak during the Friday morning plenary session and the Friday evening banquet. He is known around the world as the preeminent expert on the subject of leadership and has devoted more than five decades of his life to understanding and sharing the effective practice of leadership.

Papers are invited from the disciplines of business, leadership and entrepreneurship in the following six roundtables:

  • Biblical Perspectives in Leadership
  • Human Resource Development
  • Entrepreneurship and Global Business
  • Leadership and International Management
  • Consulting and Strategic Foresight
  • Servant Leadership

The submission deadline for completed papers is March 1, 2008. Full submission guidelines and the Call for Papers can be found online at All papers will be reviewed by appropriate roundtable chairs and will be considered for the "Best Paper" award within their roundtable.

For more information, submission guidelines and to register for this event, visit

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Developing Authentic Leadership from the Image of God

I attended the "Bridging Sunday and Monday" Conference at Seattle Pacific University last week where I presented a paper on the implications of the theological concept of the Incarnation on the development of a possible model for Christian Leadership. One of our Ph.D. students, Rick Franklin presented an excellent paper on the Imago Dei as the source for authentic Leadership. Rick's paper opens many possibilities for exploring the dynamics of spiritual formation as it relates to leader development. The abstract for his paper reads as follows:

"Authentic leadership theory defines effective leadership in terms of self-awareness and self-regulation. In particular, the greater the extent to which a leader is aware of oneself (i.e., identity, values, emotions, etc.) and regulates leadership behaviors accordingly, the more authentic and effective the leader is in leading and empowering followers.

In this regard, self-concept plays a critical role within authentic leadership, in that, it is often the focus of self-awareness. In this paper, I suggest that a secure, authentic self-concept is effectively developed by anchoring it to a self-transcendent source. Specifically, I propose that the image of God (as a self-transcendent source) provides a secure foundation for self-concept. As such, the image of God in humankind provides the fundamental definition of self-concept and thus, can be incorporated into the process of developing authentic leaders.

This topic integrates leadership theory, spirituality, and biblical theology, which is unique in authentic leadership theory studies. It also has practical value regarding developing leaders with a focus on the internal dynamic of self-concept."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Finding our Rest in God

"The doctrine of man finding his true reality in his remembrance of God in whose image he was created, is basically Biblical and was developed by the Church Fathers in connection with the theology of grace, the sacraments, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the surrender of our own will, the 'death' of our selfish ego, in order to live in pure love and liberty of spirit, is effected not by our own will (this would be a contradiction in terms!) but by the Holy Spirit. To 'recover the divine likeness,' to 'surrender to the will of God,' to 'live by pure love,' and thus to find peace, is summed up as 'union with God in the Spirit,' or 'receiving, possessing the Holy Spirit.' This, as the 19th-century Russian hermit, St. Seraphim of Sarov declared, is the whole purpose of the Christian life. St. John Chrysostom says: 'As polished silver illumined by the rays of the sun radiates light not only from its own nature but also from the radiance of the sun, so a soul purified by the Divine Spirit becomes more brilliant than silver; it both receives the ray of Divine Glory and from itself reflects the ray of this same glory.' Our true rest, love, purity, vision and quies is not something in ourselves, it is God the Divine Spirit. Thus we do not 'possess' rest, but go out of ourselves into Him who is our true rest."

- Thomas Merton. "The Spiritual Father in the Desert Tradition" in Contemplation in A World Action. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1971: 287.