Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Inner Resources for Leaders

Inner Resources for Leaders is a new online popular-press magazine on the subject of leadership and Christian spirituality covering such topics as:
  • Leadership and Spirituality
  • The Devotional Habits/Disciplines of Leaders
  • Devotional Reflections for Leaders
  • Leadership Profiles of Inspirational Leaders in Christian History
  • Spiritual Direction and Leadership
  • Spiritual Formation and Leadership
  • Christian Leadership in History
  • Theories and Models on Spiritual Leadership
  • Christian Leadership
  • Religious Leadership

I am overjoyed at working with Dr. Doris Gomez as a co-editor on this project. The bi-monthly magazine will launch later this week, but here is a link for an early preview:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Launch of Emerging Leadership Journeys

A new journal showcasing some of the best papers of first year students in the Ph.D. of Organizational Leadership was launched today. The journal is entitled, Emerging Leadership Journeys and my esteemed colleague and the director of the Ph.D. program at the School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Mihai Bocarnea, is the editor.

Dr. Bocarnea introduces the first edition of Emerging Leadership Journeys:

"Welcome to the inaugural issue of Emerging Leadership Journeys (ELJ). This first issue includes the top five student papers submitted during the first two courses of the students’ doctoral journey through the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program. In this issue, Roger Given’s literature review investigates the impact of the transformational leadership style on organizational and personal outcomes of the follower. John Smith’s exegesis advances a Spirit-empowered leadership model while Michelle Vondey’s model paper addresses the effect of follower self-concept and self-determination on follower citizenship behavior. Robert Van Engen’s conceptual paper reflects on organizational metaphors, and George West’s model paper considers the relationships among organizational mission, power, structure, and resources. "

One of the articles in this first edition is an exegetic-based exploratory paper by John, P. Smith on a possible model of Spirit-inspired leadership in the writings of Luke. It is a worthwhile read. Here is the abstract of the paper:
Acts 2:1-47 provides a snapshot of the Early Church on the Day of Pentecost; a day that ushers in the promised baptism in the Spirit, also known as the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples according to the promise of power for mission (Acts 1:8). This paper utilizes intertexture analysis in socio-rhetorical genre in order to present Luke’s perspective in the Acts of the Apostles as it relates to divine empowerment of leaders. The elements of intertexture analysis include oral-scribal intertexture, historical intertexture, social intertexture, and cultural intertexture. This paper examines how these elements are applied in Acts 2 to formulate a model of Spirit-empowered leadership. Contemporary social and cultural theories of leadership are presented in order to integrate a contemporary leadership understanding with the Spirit-empowered leadership found in Acts 2.

Here is a link to the journal and Smith's paper:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Frugality and Christian Witness in America: Learning from Puritan and Quaker Christian Traditions

Ethics of frugality have long been part of the economic norm of most Christian traditions (Nash, 1995). Weber (1958) notes that frugality combined with the values of industry, equity, generosity, and solidarity formed the core of a “Protestant ethic” and went on to describe it as “worldly asceticism”. But within the current Western culture of “progressive plenty”, frugality has been portrayed as “unfashionable, unpalatable, and even unpatriotic” (Nash 1995:138). Two spiritual counter-movements that had its start in the seventeenth century (it could be argued that both were birthed in response the religious formalism and economic excesses of seventeenth century Anglicanism) had the ethics of frugality at part of its core, “inner” values (Callen, 2001).

George Fox (1624-1691), a laymen started a counter-movement (later known as the Quakers) centered in the belief that a new age of the Spirit has come and that the ultimate guide of faith was the indwelling presence of the Spirit. Fox encouraged voluntary simple living based on the guidance of the Spirit and did not allow any ministers to receive any form of monetary payment for ministry.

During this same time period another spiritual movement arose from the critique that the emphasis of “salvation by faith alone” of the Protestant churches resulted in little interest in serious spiritual formation. This counter-movement became known as the Puritan revival and soon sought to balance Protestant “faith-alone emphasis” with elements of patristic and medieval spiritualities, amongst those elements the disciplines of frugality and simplicity (Callen, 2001).

The genius of both the marginal counter-movements of Puritan and Quaker spiritualities is that they both “rediscovered the power of moving from speculation to experience, thereby providing verification of the reality of spiritual experience by the only evidence which is convincing, ‘the evidence of the changed lives’…” (Callen, 2001:140). In time, both these counter-movements became known for the radical commitments and stances their adherents embodied, such as resistance against slavery, complete commitment to non-violence and the values of frugality and experiential simplicity. It is important to note that the discipline of frugality and simplicity were not limited to economic and lifestyle choices, such as where to live, what the wear, what kind of work to do; but also intra-personal (such as worship, introspection, etc) and inter-personal dynamics. The contemporary Quaker author, Robert L. Smith (1998:63) summarizes the role of simplicity in Christian witness: “Simplicity helps us to live to the point, to clear the way to the best, to keep first things first.”

Puritan and Quaker spiritualities have long influenced Christian proponents and activists of a simpler lifestyle (Bittinger, 1978, Bush, 1999, and Fager, 1971). The Christian ethicist James A. Nash (1995:140-144), deeply inspired by Puritan and Quaker thought, argues that in order to bring a contemporary revival and reformation to contemporary Christian witness, that one needs to not only bring back the Puritan value of frugality, but also that frugality must be seen as a “subversive virtue”. There is a strong counter-cultural tone inherent to Nash’s language and proposals. Nash (1995:140-144) offers four characteristics of this revitalized virtue as it could operate within a spiritual counter-movement:

  • Frugality rejects the popular assumption that humans are insatiable creatures, ceaselessly acquisitive for economic gains and goods and egoistically committed to pleasure maximization.
  • Frugality resists the temptations of consumer promotionalism – particularly the ubiquitous advertising that pressures us through sophisticated techniques to want more, bigger, better, faster, newer, more attractive, or “state of the art.”
  • Frugality struggles against the various psychological and sociological dynamics, beyond promotionalism, that stimulates overconsumption.
  • Ethically conscious frugality rejects the prevailing ideology of indiscriminate, material economic growth.

The transformative, witness-facilitating, counter-cultural values of frugality and simplicity have started to make something of a comeback in larger Christianity. At the International Consultation on Simple Lifestyle, sponsored by the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization’s Theology and Education Group (held at Hoddesdon, England, March 17-21, 1980) a statement was produced and endorsed, entitled, “An Evangelical Commitment to Simple Lifestyle”, which created a kind of Christian manifesto for downshifting. Amongst the many statements concerning the need and practice of simplicity, the following commitments regarding personal witness were expressed (Stott and Sider, 1980): “Our Christian obedience demands a simple lifestyle, irrespective of the needs of others….While some of us have been called to live among the poor, and others to open our homes to the needy, all of us are determined to develop a simpler lifestyle. We intend to reexamine our income and expenditure, in order to manage on less and give more away….Yet we resolve to renounce waste and oppose extravagance in personal living, clothing, and housing, travel and church buildings. We also accept the distinction between necessities and luxuries, creative hobbies and empty status symbols, modesty and vanity, occasional celebrations and normal routine, and between the service of God and slavery to fashion.”

The Puritan and Quaker expressions of simplicity and frugality have recently surfaced in unexpected blends with other Christian traditions. Olson (2005) reports that large communities blending Puritan simplicity and Pentecostal fervor are surfacing in rural Texas, joining their voices with those who offer “an alternative to the American Dream, a competing vision of the future - one that promises fullness of being in solidarity” (Nash 1995:159).

Downshifting in Puritan and Quaker spiritualities is integral to their missiological praxis. The Puritan and Quaker calls to simple living through the practice of the disciplines of frugality are counter-cultural calls to authentic Christian witness and sincere efforts to model the anti-materialism truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world steeped in an ideology of “more, better and faster”.

"Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD ' or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
(Proverbs 30:7-9, NIV)


Bittinger, E.F. (1978). The simple life: a chapter in the evolution of a doctrine. Brethren Life and Thought 23.2, 104-114.

Bush, T. (1999). Plain Living: The Search for Simplicity. Christian Century 116:30, 676-681.

Callen, B.L. (2001). Authentic Spirituality. Rand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Fager, C. (1971). Experimenting with a simpler life style. Christian Century 88.1, 9-13.

Nash, J.A. (1995). Toward the revival and reform of the subversive virtue. Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics 15.1, 137-160.

Smith, R.L. (1998). A Quaker Book of Wisdom. London: Orion.

Stott, J.R.W. and Sider, R.J. (1980). An Evangelical Commitment to Simple Lifestyle. Occasional Bulletin of Missionary Research 4.4, 177-179.

Weber, M. (1958). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Updated Program for the Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Research Roundtable

I am happy to announce that we have accepted two more papers for the Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Research Roundtable (May 16-17, 2008). Both papers are from Louis Morgan, a phenomenal professor from Lee University and a current Ph.D. student in Organizational Leadership at Regent University (I am deeply fortunate to be the chair for his dissertation work). The titles of Louis' papers are:

  • "Beyond Serving Others: Continual Self-Sacrifice as Normative Christianity.”
  • “The Admonitions of St. Francis: Implications for Servant and Transformational Leaders.”

For more information on the roundtable see:

Also check out Louis' blog:

Under the radar: Pentecostalism in South Africa and its potential social and economic role

There is an interesting new study that has been done by the Center for Development and Enterprise in South Africa on the role of Pentecostal Religion in socio-economic development in Southern Africa. Lydia van den Bergh, who now works at the Center, alerted me of this important study. The write up on this study is as follows:

"Noting the explosive growth in Pentecostal churches in post-apartheid South Africa, CDE, in conjunction with Professor Peter Berger of Boston University and Professor James Hunter of the University of Virginia, obtained funding to undertake research with the aim of opening up a discussion of the possible developmental implications of this phenomenon.

This project has revealed a world of activity, energy, and entrepreneurship previously unknown to this otherwise well-informed South African think-tank. Flying under the radar screens of politicians, intellectuals, academics, and journalists are a large number of institutions and individuals that are actively concerned about and working on questions of values and personal behaviour. These concerns include family life, personal responsibility, unemployment, skills creation, and a range of other national concerns.

This report describes CDE’s project, places it in context, outlines its findings, and suggests ways in which policy debates in South Africa might take account of the phenomenal rise of Pentecostal Christian churches."

For more information and a short summary of this study, see: (

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Louise Kretzschmar on Moral Leadership

I read a great article this morning by an acquaintance from UNISA (University of South Africa) from the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa. Louise Kretzschmar hits the proverbial hammer on the nail with this. A short excerpt:

"Moral leadership is as essential now to the well being of society as it has ever been. Faced with poverty, suffering, injustice and corruption, a deep longing rises up in the human heart for leaders that can be trusted, even loved: for leaders that take individuals and communities where they need to go. towards wholeness of life. Simultaneously, the cost of moral leadership is high, and few are willing to pay the price. Struggle, courage, sacrifice and pain are deliberately avoided in societies that seek comfort, happiness and the promotion of narrow self and group interest. Yet. ironically. Christians believe that it is in the abandonment of selfishness and dishonest defensiveness that true human identity is discovered, and in the relinquishing of narrow group interests that genuine community is found. These difficult truths are encapsulated in Jesus' teachings about leadership as service (Mk 10:35-45) and the need to die. like a grain of wheat, in order to bear fruit (Jn 12:24-26). "

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 no 128 Jl 2007, p 18-36.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Merton on the Mercy of God

I am persuaded that authentic leadership starts with the simple understanding that all authority in leadership is delegated authority. All power ultimately belongs to God (Psalm 115:1). When we lead, we should be careful to tread lightly, remembering that we are working in God's domain. Thomas Merton helps us in this regard by reminding us of the ever-present refrain of God's mercy in the Holy Scriptures:

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a revelation of God in a word that has great importance through all the Scriptures from beginning to the end. It is a revelation of what the prophet Hosea says, speaking for the invisible God, "I will have mercy and not sacrifices." What is this mercy which we find spoken everywhere in the Scriptures, and especially in the Psalms? The Vulgate rings with misericordia as though with a deep church bell. Mercy is the "burden" or the "bourdon," it is the brass bell and under-song of the whole Bible. But the Hebrew word-chesed-which we render as mercy, misericordia, says more still than mercy.

Chesed (mercy) is also fidelity, it is also strength. It is the faithful, the indefectible mercy of God. It is ultimate and unfailing because it is the power that binds one person to another, in a covenant of wills. It is the power that binds us to God because He has promised us mercy and will never fail in His promise. For He cannot fail. It is the power and the mercy which are most characteristic of Him, which come nearer to the mystery into which we enter when all concepts darken and evade us.

Am I modelling God's mercy in the way that I lead today?

Thomas Merton. Seasons of Celebration. (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950): 175.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Program for Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Research Roundtable

I have completed a preliminary program for the Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Roundtable (May 16-17, 2008). I am looking forward to work and learn with these esteemed scholars!

1. Banks, Bonnie: "Jesus’ Method of Inclusion in Leadership: A Model for Innovation and Creativity in the Early Church."
2. Banks, Bonnie: "Was Moses Wrong? Ethical Dimensions in Leadership."
3. Bekker, Corné: "“On This Rock: Charismatic Mediators and Weber’s Theory of Religious Leadership in Matthew 16:13-20.”
4. Jenks, Deborah: "Transformation: An Examination of Jesus’ Creative Use of the Matthew 13 Parables and Theory U."
5. Petties, Vivian: "A Biblical Perspective on Women in Leadership: A Fresh Look at I Timothy 2:8-15."
6. Rittle, Dennis: "Managing the Conflict from Within: A Spiritual Model."
7. Self, Catherine: "Incarnational Leadership as Reflected in St. Clare’s Third Letter to Agnes: A Sensory-Aesthetic Study."
8. Self, Catherine: "The Leadership of Jesus: A Literature Review and Research Proposal."
9. Spencer, Jan: "Peter: A Phenomenology of Leadership."
10. Upsher-Myles, Chantel: "Exploring Paul’s Global Leadership Strategy Through 1 Corinthians 9:19-23."
11. Upsher-Myles, Chantel: "Organizational Leadership Lessons Based on the Pauline Epistles."
12. West, Bud: "Implications for Leadership in the Evaluation of Scripture: An Ideological Review of Matthew 8:5-13."
13. Wright, David: "The Leadership of Jesus in the Succession Process of the Disciples: A Dual Focus of Servanthood in Small Groups.”

I will update the program on here as any changes occur. For more information in the roundtable see:

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Roundtable (May 16-17, 2008)

This is the second year for the Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Research Roundtable aimed to provide a discussion and research forum for scholars, researchers, practitioners and ministers who work in leadership utilizing a biblical perspective. Representing the multidisciplinary fields of biblical, social-science, historical and leadership studies, the Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Research Roundtable hopes to explore, engage and extend the field of knowledge and understanding of the phenomenon of leadership as found within the contexts of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

To stimulate scholarly debate and a free flow of ideas, the proceedings from the Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Research Roundtable will be posted online and papers of high quality will be considered for the Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership (JBPL).