Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To boldly go... Personal Leadership from StarTrek!

We have all seen the typical scene where the the wife proclaims that her husband is not the man she married.  He has changed.  Blah, blah, blah!  I would hope there has been some change.  I expect it in myself and my spouse, and even in my children.  I sure dont want my kids to act like a preschooler at their high school graduation.  I want them to grow and mature.  I want them do develop new skills and master their native language.  I want them to develop healthy relationships and to seek out opportunities to become who they are created to be.

In a follow up to the last post, I wanted to address the issue of personal change in the leader as part of the overall revitalization of the church.  In fact, not only is personal change in the life of the leader necessary in the process, it should be the spark that ignites the flame of revitalization.

We tend to define most things in our culture by generations, and leadership is no different.  My parents never sat in a leadership conference and probably never had a leadership book handed to them from a mentor.  The top-down leadership model was implemented everywhere from the office to the military, with the church jumping on the bandwagon.  Rules and hierarchy were established and enforced, and learning outside of the task at hand was optional, if available.  It was incorrectly assumed that either you are born to lead or you were a follower, and development of a skill-set to lead was not encouraged, and definitely not valued.  Apprentices were only so the long term people would have someone to boss around.

A great example of this was in the boomer and buster generation cult hit, StarTrek.  Their captain was an egocentric Captain Kirk who was seemingly always looking for a fight.  Everyone had their role, and you did not speak unless spoken to.  Kirk wanted everyone to look to him because he was the CEO of the Enterprise, and he had a plan.  The power was concentrated in him.  He was goal driven and valued uniformity.  Position and role give the right to lead.  And we all know, Kirk...lead by...talking.  (pause for corny theatrical effect.)

Then came the Next Generation of StarTrek, and a whole new kind of Captain.  Picard was willing to take the lead, but the crew knew he wanted their help.  Picard was a fellow journeyer and the power was not all focused on him.  He was relationship driven and valued diversity.  He knew that trust and relationships would provide the right to lead.  Picard didn't pause for effect, he paused to listen.

Leadership evolved.  As leaders, especially in this generation, many are caught knowing the need for change but struggling with the models of hierarchy they were raised in.  I must confess, this has been quite a journey for me.  Looking back, it is embarrassing.  I thought volunteers and students should listen because I was speaking and I had a title.  I made demands and offered little in return.  I was arrogant and immature, and far from being the leader I needed to be.  Today, as I write, I can make a list of areas where I need to improve.  (you dont need to send me a list!)

Sometimes the process is painful.  There have been lots of lessons learned over 18 years of ministry, and many of them were uncomfortable.  However, from the vantage point of today, I can see clearer and further because of the steps climbed in the past.  It is now our mandate to train and mentor the emerging generations to avoid a leadership vacuum in the years to come.  Also, we need to continue to grow ourselves.  A great practice for older generations is reverse mentoring.  Find a leader from the younger emerging generation and allow them to share with you what is happening in their generation.  Our culture is constantly changing and we need to understand that change to know how to lead for the future.  We cannot continue to lead like Kirk in the Next Generation!

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