Saturday, 30 March 2013

Leadership In The Big Wide World

Leadership 8 – In the big wide world
3 min script for            UCB

I have been looking at leadership in these short talks in the context of those who are followers of Jesus.  However I  hope that I  haven’t give the impression  that these skills of servant leadership are  only relevant and appropriate to the church community.  If I have given that impression let my try and correct that today.
I have spent a large chunk of my life establishing some independent schools, we have two in North London, one in Sri Lanka and one in Nakuru, Kenya.  When people ask me what is their purpose, I answer that I am interested in affecting the thinking of young students, but also I want to produce tomorrow’s national and international leaders.
I hope you don’t think what I say next is too strange, but even if you do, I believe it to be so. If you really are a follower of Jesus, and you are walking with him then certain things will apply.  First of all you are in touch with wisdom, I do not believe that wisdom comes from any other source but from God, he is the source of wisdom. Knowledge on the other hand can come from a variety of sources.  If you are a follower of Jesus then you should have a world view that gives great credibility to any leadership role into which you enter. Followers of Jesus also have a clear perspective about the future, where it’s all going, why we are here and what is our human purpose is.  You are also in touch with the ultimate law giver, ruler and therefore understand what it means to have a moral base.  Scripture talks about our thinking producing who and what we are, and that can, should and does reflect into the wider culture locally, nationally and internationally.
I learned a lot of my leadership skills as a follower of Jesus rather than from management training, or other training schemes. But I have discovered that it is very easy to transfer those skills into what we sometimes call the secular world, although I don’t like the word secular, as I know that the Kingdom of God can be found in every area of life and do not like the false dichotomy of secular and spiritual. I have been able to use the leadership skills obtained as a follower of Jesus in social service, education and business to name but a few.

Just the other day I was listening to a discussion about an emerging economy and they were talking about how the country could be improved by business, by politics, and by new laws.  But there was an element that was missing from the debate, there was no mention of how people think, the philosophy of a nation if you will.  In the UK, whilst I would never want to call us or think of us as a Christian nation we do have a strong Christian heritage which can be seen in our laws and the way the country works.  This heritage is, I believe, currently being rapidly squandered, but some of it is this is still there, which tends to make us generous and caring; and affect levels of honesty and corruption. If you look at national cultures in other parts of the world then you will see clear differences to the UK culture, due to the underlying philosophy, for some there is a lack of concern for others outside of their own country, some place a low value on human life and some have very corrupt systems.  Now I am sure business, law, politics and education can all help those things if they are wrong, but ultimately you don’t really change things unless you change the thinking and the underlying philosophy.
As one American president once said, ‘if you educate an evil man who was stealing from the railway, it doesn’t change his actions it just makes him clever, so instead of stealing from the railway he steals the whole system’.  What we often see as requiring a structural change actually needs a change of heart, or from my point of view, Jesus style leadership in all areas of life.  So how about you, where do you lead?

Adrian Hawkes
Editor A Brookes
W 727
3 min Script for UCB

Monday, 18 March 2013

Difficult People - and the Leadership of Them

Leadership 7


Let’s be honest there are difficult people around aren’t there?   And there are people who claim to be followers of Jesus who think we need to be nice to everyone.  The problem with being nice is that sometimes nice means, in modern parlance, untruthful.   When we are untruthful we need to ask the question are we really helping the other person?
 Let me illustrate where I am going with this; Have you noticed how people who tell you they are Christians sometimes say, and usually very loudly and firmly, ‘you need to accept me  as I am because God says he accepts me just as I am and He tells us to come to him just as we are, so you should do the same’.  And that is the problem with sound bite truth. Of course what they are saying is true, but  it’s not the whole truth or the whole story, but we so love those sound bites don’t we?  The truth is that  God loves us and calls us to come to Him as we are, but then he also calls us to change. This is made clear in scriptures like, ‘be transformed by the renewing or the changing of your mind’ or ‘he plans to conform us to the image of His son Jesus’. These scriptures give us the clear understanding that although God accepts us as we are it isn’t part of His plan to leave us as He finds us.
Can I be honest?  Thank you. Sometimes when people say, ‘love me as I am,’ I’m thinking, (but of course I don’t say it),   you really are horrible and you need to change!’  Then there are people who say, ‘do you know I never have these problems at work or at my book club I only have them when I am here in the church community.’  And the first thing that goes through my head is, ‘Uh oh, they are not telling the truth’. Perhaps they think they are, but actually they are not. 
For many years I have run a school, and sometimes I have a parent sitting in front of me saying ‘do you know I never had this problem with my child in their last school.’ What they don’t realise is that I have a  file on the child from the last school describing the behaviour issues and can also read the problems that the staff at my school  are experiencing;  and I know my staff!  Sometimes, of course, people don’t realise what they are doing, at other times, let’s be totally clear, they are not being honest; they are trying to circumvent their own problems.
That leads me to my next issue with people, that of their problems. There are those who want to dump their problems on others, especially if those on who they are dumping have assumed any form of leadership role.  What happens is this, someone will share their problem with you, and because you care you really put your mind into it. After they have poured out their problems to you, they go home and sleep soundly while you toss and turn and worry about their problem.  It is not good to allow people to dump their lives on you. We need to try and help people to find ways through difficult passages in their lives, and be as helpful as possible, but ultimately it is for them, to work out a resolution.
Scripture tells us that we are to work out our own salvation. That, again, could be a sound bite but of course God is there working with those who have problems, and, no doubt if you are caring leader you also will be alongside them. But don’t allow people to make their lives your responsibility.  God wants us to grow up, to be mature and work with Him as we work through difficult periods in our life, and he promises to turn them round and help us learn from them.  Maturing us and changing our thinking.
Finally to help any of you listening who do lead, and go through those terrible times when some person you have been trying to help turns around and blames you for the problem that they have, even though the problem was there before you even met them. Or they list the terrible problems that they are having with you that sends you home feeling a complete and utter failure and a really useless leader in fact a useless person.  Here is my little formula which I hope might help you.
Ask yourself, ‘do other people have this problem with me?’ If the answer is yes then perhaps the critic is right and you do have a problem.  If the answer is no, and I have to say it usually is no, then you  need to say to yourself, ‘well now as other people do not have this problem with me then it is probably  not my problem but theirs.’
Then ask yourself, ‘in my observation of this person, do they have a similar problem with other people that I know?’ if the answer is yes, again it confirms what I have just said. It is not your problem it is theirs.   Often we end up beating ourselves up when we should not do so simply because we haven’t thought through the situation, we have just reacted negatively to critisicm, and blamed ourselves for something that is not our fault or our responsibility.
I hope today that I haven’t caused you to no longer want to lead, or help those difficult or problematic people. God does love them; I just don’t want you to live in condemnation.  Happy helping and be blessed.

Leadership Script for UCB 3 MIN
Editor A.  Brookes
W. 974
Adrian Hawkes