Leadership Exemplified

Posted on August 14, 2011


During the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek, the following announcement was made:

There are dozens of lessons to be learned here — transparency, integrity, honesty, communication, respect, trust, love, etc. Adam Hamilton wrote a thoughtful response in the Huffington Post, and there are plenty others.

But as I have mused and read about this, there is simply one thing that stands out. None of the principles or lessons here are new, radical, innovative, or even amazing. They’re simple. My guess is that virtually all church leaders know the principles of “Matthew 18” so much so that the phrase “Matthew 18” has become synonymous with a methodology of reconciliation through direct and respectful communication. Virtually all people in attendance know that clear communication is a fundamental principle of leadership.

What makes this stand out is simple. This was leadership exemplified. In other words, they did what good leadership demands.

Why does this stand out? Well, I suppose it is because I have witnessed dozens of leaders not do what they clearly know to be the right thing; whether it’s because of fear, excuses, abdication of responsibility, etc. I have a feeling, I’m not alone in this. Leadership is quite simple. Anyone reading leadership books run into the same themes, over and over and over again, (trust, model the way, know who you are, credibility, etc.) But it is those leaders that actually put into practice those principles that make some leaders and their leadership stand out.

I consider this a human problem. Dallas Willard summed up recently what is the process of discipleship. “Do the next right thing.” Seriously? That’s it. Do the next right thing? Yup.

That simple.

And that scarce.

Action, exemplification, modeling, follow-through, … doing that which we know to be right and true is the difference that makes someone a leader versus a person that just attends conferences on leadership.

Kinda reminds me of someone else I read:

Whoever hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock… – Matthew 7:24

If you hold to my teaching [i.e. “practice”] you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… – John 8:31-32