Leadership and the Examined Life

Leadership and the Examined Life

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Just for fun, I logged on to this morning and typed in a search for “books on leadership.” Amazon listed 183,294 titles. I then narrowed my search to “Christian Leadership” and 15,547 titles came up. There is no shortage of interest or information on becoming better leaders.  

Is leadership innate or can it be taught? Based on the number of books available, we must believe one can improve, get an edge, find a better way to do what we Christians believe we have been called to do. Indeed, my library is covered with such books.  I firmly believe we are called to be continuous learners. Nine times out of ten, when a congregation speaks to me about a new pastor, the leadership conversation emerges. I am convinced more than ever that leadership first begins with a deep understanding and awareness of:  

  1. who one is as person
  2. how effective one is with the other considerable tasks of leadership.  

The early Church Fathers taught the importance of living the examined life. And yet, I do wonder sometimes how many leaders follow their practice. John Wesley’s first question, “how is it with your soul?”, continues to be spot on. And yet, we construct masks of denial.  We try to hide our own weaknesses. Trust is broken and betrayed. People suffer and organizations falter.

The Church today needs leaders rooted and grounded in Christ Jesus who allow the power of God’s spirit, over time to transform us into the likeness of Christ and to heal us in the broken places. I’m learning this, slowly, over time. In the covenant group that holds me accountable, we speak of Loving, Learning, and Leading. It is to live an integrated life inwardly and outwardly rooted and grounded in the love of God and to love who God loves.



2 Responses

  1. I grew up on a working family farm. In those days, much of the work we did was difficult, physically demanding, often dangerous hand-work. We had a number of families who lived on our farm and worked with us full-time.
    My father instilled in me the understanding that I had to work harder and faster than everyone else, so I could encourage the other workers to be more productive by following my example.
    Dad said, “The best leaders don’t tell people to go do something they are not willing to do. The best leaders ask others to follow their example, without ever having to say to a word.” Today, I believe some would call that “modeling a behavior you desire in others.”
    The Nashville Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church is blessed to have a spiritual leader who not only models what it means to live “an examined life”, but is a spiritual leader who works harder than everyone else at Loving, Learning and Leading by example.
    Thank you for your excellent words and thank you for leading by example.

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