leadership homogeneity: confessions of a recovering former leadership expert

Leadership. What images come to your mind when you see that word? A business suit? A white hardhat and clipboard? Mission statements, core values, and strategic flowcharts? A homogeneous blur of similarity, regardless of which leader is speaking, writing, or waving his under-exercised arms frantically to get your attention? Such is the problem with the deluge of leadership voices on the market today. They mostly sound the same. Not always, but mostly.

There are five points of this and seven habits of that; 21principles of the other thing and the occasional glorious irreverent jabs at the whole mess. Meanwhile, there is not a lot of leadership happening in the real world. Who has the time? We are too busy with S.W.O.T. analyses, TQM protocols, Six Sigma diagnostics, and rewriting our mission statements, core values, and short and long-term goals. Who has time to do anything of any measureable significance? We’ve created a generation of leadership gurus who quote the successful people better than they quote the Bible. Yet, our churches continue to decline and close. We teeter on the precipice of irrelevance, both to the culture and, frankly, also to the biblical text. We know a lot and tweet about it to others who are tweeting the same trite nothingisms. Well, not all of it. Some of it is actually quite good. But it would be so much better if we would live up to the hype we tweet and blog.

This is my confession. Yes, my name is Glen and I am a recovering leadership expert (you’re supposed to say “Hello, Glen” here and look attentive and supportive, even though you are simply glad it’s me, rather than you, under the interventional microscope). I even have a doctorate in pastoral leadership. But I’m feeling much better now….

I love leaders. I appreciate competent leadership. But I am sick and tired of this nonsense circulating throughout Christendom which demands that shepherds be put out to pasture, and “leaders” be given complete authority to run the church so that it can become “successful,” that is, big with lots of money. Or small with lots of money. Doesn’t matter. We just want to keep the financial pipeline open and flowing freely. But to benefit whom, I wonder? You get the idea.

Yea, yea, I know. Cynical. Also, I understand that finances are required to do certain things. I get that. I tithe to my church. I support their ministries financially. But good grief, if I hear about one more church which feels led to develop another enormous building program while at the same time ignoring the homeless and hungry, particularly widows and orphans (don’t look at me that way, it’s in the Bible) right outside their doors, I am going to make a really, really long list in the weaknesses and threats columns of the S.W.O.T matrix. There, I said it. I am laying down the gauntlet, using terminology which should cause any self-described leadership guru to shudder in mission statement and core value dissonance.

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