I’ve been writing on manhood for a few weeks, and have a couple of more topics to cover before we move on to a different theme for a while, so today we’ll hit one of those remaining topics. Leadership.
There was a time when I undersold leadership and its necessity because it’s so dang hard to define or at least I thought it was. I’m well-educated. I have a master’s degree. I made excellent grades in college and graduate school. I’m quite savvy in the world. I’ve been in some crazy locations around the world in some crazy situations with death knocking at my door, and I’m quite at home, can think and get on with stuff. I lead people to go to some of these places. I take teams into globally isolated locations. My single greatest strength, according to Gallup’s strengths assessment, is “Adaptor”. I can be anywhere, learn and adapt. Yet when I read some books on leadership, particularly of the Christian sort, I leave off on point 278 of good leadership (hyperbole…a little) realizing, according to what I’m reading, I suck as a leader. Yet, I’m one of the founding pastors of a successful church and global work that mobilizes people all over Rome and around the world. So, maybe I don’t suck so bad. Maybe leadership is not that complicated. Maybe its people trying to sell books and seminars…? Leadership is not that complicated.
Part of manhood is “leadership”. One of the challenges of the fall for the man is his fallen bent toward passivity. Passivity is the opposite of leading. Leaders are not passive. Think about Adam standing at the tree with Eve while she converses with Satan, says nothing, watches the rebellion go down and still does nothing. That is passivity. That is NOT leading.
That curse has been passed on to every male child who has ever lived. If you don’t think so, be a teacher. I taught for 10 years and watched day in and day out boys be the last to volunteer behind the girls, last to get a concept, last to care, last to shape up and get in gear, first to pick their nose, first to pick their underwear from their crack, first to screw up, and first to think that screwing something up is funny. It’s insane. There are a few exceptions, but by and large boys don’t lead. Yet, they have been given a role of headship among equals in the home and in the church.
Good news: The gospel of the kingdom is powerful to reverse that curse in boys. But part of that work is men who have been rescued from passivity and learning leadership must teach boys how to escape the powerful clutches of passivity.
Passivity manifests itself in that there are a bunch of boys in mens bodies and they act like it. Example, we have some girls in our fellowship who ought to be married and boys in men’s bodies just picking their noses (figuratively). You don’t need a class to figure this out: pick one that lights your fire, have a couple of dates to see if you mesh, get married and raise a kingdom family. But there they stand…finger in nose, hand picking their underwear, playing on their phone, no vision, no passion for life….just there.
Many of our women are better leaders than our men. Men slack and give crappy excuses on why they are slack. Many of our women are better organizers, better detail people, have better and clearer vision and simply are waiting on some dudes to pick up their game.
I’m going to give you the best leadership books I’ve ever read, and they are not Christian books, so if it’s not Christian enough for you, then stop reading here.
Beyond Band of Brothers, by Dick Winters
This guy is one of my heroes in life. He passed on a couple of years ago, but you may remember him from Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers”. Maybe you saw the HBO mini series, which is so dang good, or you actually read the book. Either way, you can’t help but love Major Dick Winters.
His Memoirs, listed above, have helped me as much as any to define leadership. Now, nowhere does Major Winters use the language I’m going to share here, but its my words to help summarize how Major Winters dealt with leadership. I love it because he thought people complicated leadership too much. That got my attention. So, here is my counsel from summarizing Major Winter’s thoughts:
Make good decisions and go first.
His men were surprised he lived through the war. There was not an offensive he didn’t lead the charge on when he was the C/O of Company E. He didn’t give commands from behind. He gave commands from out front and his men loved him for it. They’d all die for him.
His men also said he never made a bad decision. He had an impeccable ability to read the time and situation and make excellent decisions. He’d tell you he could have done better, and perhaps so. No one is perfect, but from his men’s perspective, he made excellent decisions. He thought about what do do and the consequences if “a” or “b” etc. happened and then took the best route. We can all do that!
Men, do your homework, and decide well. Then, go first.
Yes, I’m sure you can complicate things by asking, “how do you do the homework so as to…?” No. don’t do that. Know yourself and your little ways of doing things and make good decisions. Going first is anything anyone with courage can do (we’ll talk about courage next week).
Do this one and you’ll be on your way.
Finally, I’d recommend “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willing and Leif Babin
This book is by two former Navy Seals who have extensive combat experience in leading men through hard stuff and in training men to lead in combat. The things taught in this book have been developed from the need for men to lead in hard times.
What I love about this book is that the stories are awesome, and there are pictures!! But I also love that the principles are simple and applicable and not overwhelming. Anyone who finds themselves at the head of anything whether family or organization can take what they learn here and make it work.
You have to own it.
They would say that there are not bad teams only bad leaders. What a leader allows is the standard for all. Teams ascend to the demands of their leaders. But those leaders must demand they meet the standard as well. That’s just one nugget.
So, men, make good decisions, go first and own the task and you’ll be on your way to a good and strong role as a leader.
May I just say, that there is nothing about these principles that is ungodly if you may be apt to criticize that they didn’t come the bible or explicitly Christian authors. These principles are solid and will help anyone seeking to lead in a godly manner. Give them a try.